Values Across the Atlantic

The main theme that stuck out to me during my time in this course was the process of transatlantic movement and how it affected Black and Irish communities. Particularly, I enjoyed learning about how it changed the values and mindsets of these groups. It all started with Paul Gilroy writing about the idea of American exceptionalism. He explained that the world typically views blackness through the lens of Black Americans rather than understanding the nuances of the overarching Black community, which includes people from the Caribbean, Africa, and Latin America. This was significant to me because it emphasized just how complex the Black community when you take into account all of the different cultures are in it. All of these groups have values that are distinct from one another. Additionally, it made me realize how bad Western countries are at ‘classifying’ people since they usually have such blanket terms to describe communities, regardless of how diverse it is. A similar sentiment is expressed in the Irish community when O’Connell disowned Irish Americans and asserted that they were not truly Irish because their noble hearts would never support such a cruel act as slavery. This, coupled with Irish Americans ‘becoming white’, further pushed me to acknowledge the importance of transatlanticism and its impact. A change will happen to a group of people as they adjust to different places, whether it be through varying mindsets or something as simple as new types of food. The main message here is that it is nearly impossible to be completely unaffected once they interact with other people and alter their entire lifestyle. All in all, this class helped me come to the conclusion that it is a lot harder to define a community than I initially thought and I should be cognizant of that when studying race relations.