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Cultural Diversity/Ethnic Group and Discrimination Essay Sample

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Cultural Diversity/Ethnic Group and Discrimination Essay Sample


Naturally, human beings have existed in close knit groups which share some common practices or culture.  An ethnic group is therefore particular group of people occupying a certain geographical region and sharing some similar aspects of culture. Since the era of colonization, there has been increased mixed up of ethnic groups and cultures and in any one single city in the world, there will be more than one ethnic group coexisting together.  One of the regions in the world that has a great cultural diversity is American. Since the discovery of New Land by Columbus, the American dream led to influx of people from all over the world leading to a mix up of cultures and ethnic groups.  Today United States is one of the most ethnic diverse regions in the world.  However, this mix up of culture brought about social stratification and inequality where the minority groups were discriminated in the society. It was only after years of struggle of human rights movements, and others that some form of equality can at last be seen in the country. In this paper, I want to describe the discrimination of my ethnic group. Being an Irish American, I have seen systematic oppression and discrimination of my ethnic group which I want to describe in this paper.

My ethnic group

Irish Americans are Irish immigrants who are now citizens of the United States.  It is one of the largest minority groups in the United States. Statistics reveal that in 2006, 12% of all Americas reported having an Irish ancestry and they come second to German Americans in terms of population  size (Negra, 2006).

Irish Americans started migrating to America as early as 1820 most of them coming as laborers. However, it was after the Great Irish Famine between 1845 and 1850 that millions of Irish Catholics moved to North America including Canada and United States. Most of the Irish who migrated to United States are however said to have migrated from crossed over from Canada after staying for a year or two.  From 1820 to 1860, Irish immigrants to the united states constituted more than a third of the total immigrants and by 1840, half of all immigrants to the United States were Irish (Glazier, 1999).  Even today, most of the cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Detroit, and others have a larger Irish American population.

Most Irish who fled the Irish famine were farmers. Once they arrived in the United States, they also went to farming and ranching.  Most of them however also went to labors and most of them took jobs   which were previously held by Yankees.  Most women worked as maid households and hotels.  However, early Irish immigrants were discriminated in most social situations. Since most of them were catholic and they could not intermarry with Protestants (Glazier, 1999).  A common phrase perpetuating Irish discrimination asserted “The Negro is black outside; the Irishman is Black inside”.  This showed that Irish Americans were discriminated. They were faced with many hate inspired attacks taking into consideration that Irish famine had tainted their relationship with Britons who were colonizing America.

Irish Americans faced different forms of discrimination right from the job market to institutional discrimination. When they arrived in the United States, they faced a different reality from what they had expected in their journey from home.  Once in America, it was difficult for them to survive in the dual labor market.  Most of them could not access well paying and prestigious jobs. In most shops and job places, “Irish Need Not Apply” was a common poster.  As a result, we have already outlined that they worked in menial jobs mostly hired by Irish contractors as “labor gangs” working on canals, railroads, streets, sewers, and in general construction. Irish women worked as maids for middle and upper class but also a substantial number of Irish become police officers.

Irish Americans were also affected by redlining (Negra, 2006).  As we have mentioned above, there were posters hanging in shops that barred Irish from applying for jobs which can be taken as a good example of redlining.   In regard to patterns of settlement, most Irish were restricted from mortgages and they lived in slums and except for those working in upper and middle class, they were not allowed to go the upper class neighborhoods.  Irish Americans also faced severe institutional discrimination especially in the job market (Kenny, 2000). Institutional discrimination entails different forms of discrimination from social, political to economic. Socially, Irish Americas were regarded as inferior citizens and they could not interact or intermarry with others for social and religious reasons.  Irish Americans were faced with glass ceiling which made it difficult for them to move up the professional ladder. However, Irish were not affected by double jeopardy, affirmative action and environmental justice issues compared to other minority ethnic groups.

As a current American generation, I identify with both United States culture and the Irish culture. Like most ethnic groups in the United States, our culture has been polarized and we now live as a part of mainstream American culture.  I still try to maintain my Irish culture but I have to live within the context of emerging American culture and therefore I within the context of both culture.


Before and after the Great Irish famine, there has been a grate influx of the Irish people to the United States. Most early Irish immigrants were faced with many difficulties including discrimination in the labor market, redlining, institutional discrimination, glass ceiling, and others although they were not affected by affirmative action and double jeopardy like other states. As an Irish American, I live within the context of my Irish origin and as part of United States mainstream culture.


Glazier, M. (1999). The Encyclopedia of the Irish in America. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

Kenny, K. (2000). The American Irish: A History. New York: Longman

Negra, D. (2006). The Irish in U.S. Durham, NC: Duke University Press

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