Recently there’s been some stories reported about Irish people claiming to be the first American slaves. This is pretty embarrassing but I feel the need to inform those who have seen those reports and comments that this is not the sentiment of the typical Irish person. Try not to hold this crap against the Irish. You see, my theory is that the Irish Americans hold onto many of the notions their original Irish ancestors who moved to the US in the 1800’s or early 1900’s likely held. Irish people back then competed against all other minorities for work at the time. Maybe the Irish Americans growing up felt their prejudice and bullshit was part of their heritage and want to keep that as their identity.
The Irish in Ireland have progressed as a people. So, while the Irish zigged, the Irish Americans seem to have zagged.
With that said, this article from Al Jazeera: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/03/black-lives-matter-irish-slave-myth-160315092722167.html is almost as infuriating. To suggest there was no Irish slavery in America is to downplay the treatment of our ancestors, kind of the same way those using the Irish slavery stories as a way to downplay the injustice black people in America have suffered and continue to suffer. Irish slavery has no place in a discussion about racial prejudice today.
Irish people were indentured slaves in the US. Many were put in such deplorable conditions that they died before they ever received an actual pay packet. For anybody interested to learn more about the treatment of the indented Irish slaves, I suggest you read about Duffy’s Cut. A tale about 57 indentured Irish slaves brought to Pennsylvania to work on the railroads by an Irish contractor named Phillip Duffy. Much like some cases with black slaves, in this story it was a fellow countryman that subjected these people to the horrors they endured all on Amtrak’s dollar. The killing of the 57 Irish slaves (some were found to have blunt force trauma to the head) is possibly the largest mass murder in the history of the state.
My great grandfather lived in California in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. A couple of years ago my grandmother found a receipt for a grave plot in San Francisco. As I live in the US, I called the cemetery to figure out who was buried in the plot. It was two young Irish men who died in the early 1900’s. Both in their early 20’s. Maintenance was not paid for the upkeep of the grave. It had completely overgrown. One of the men died in a mental institution from “exhaustion” and “other mental illnesses”. I couldn’t find any more information about them due to the state only providing death and medical records to family.
I took a trip to the cemetery in San Francisco with a couple of small Irish flags, intending to put them on the graves. Unfortunately, the cemetery was massive and sadly the section they were buried in was filled with unmarked graves. I had the plot number and row number but it wasn’t clearly marked in that section of the cemetery. It was very sad. Two young men who possibly have never even had a visitor to their grave couldn’t be found among the hundreds of others buried in unmarked graves across from a fancy new high rise apartment complex in San Francisco, a city which has long since forgotten about those who left their lives there.
In closing. Throughout history almost every nationality has suffered from slavery. That doesn’t speak to the current situation in the US for black people. If you don’t believe there’s inequality, you are living in denial.