How the Irish Became White

I’ve been reading Krista Ratcliffe’s Rhetorical Listening: Identification, Gender, Whiteness for another class (English 483: Studies in Rhetoric and Style) and stumbled upon her interesting discussion of race. She defines it as: “a fictional category possessed of all-too-realistic consequences” (13). This seems to jive with previous discussions of race on this blog and in this class.

She also brings up the book How the Irish Became White, which is of great interest to me based on heritage and my general interest in race and culture. I haven’t read the book, but here is an interesting review. The book apparently discusses how the Irish, an oppressed “race” in America, became “white” by juxtaposing themselves against Northern freed blacks. By joining “whites” in subjugating “blacks,” they assimilated and became thought of as white.

This is also an interesting topic in terms of Certeauian thinking … what tactics and strategies do we use to re-produce ourselves in order to construct particular social identities and meet particular social goals?


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