Racial Formation And The Immigrant Groups Essay

Racial Formation And The Immigrant Groups Essay

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Many immigrant groups migrated to the United States of America in the 19th century to obtain a better degree of social freedom and opportunity such as job employment. However, the Whites racialized these immigrant groups, inserting them into the lowest position of the social hierarchy where Whites were at the top and Blacks were at the bottom. Racial formation is the society’s expectations and opportunities of a particular race, which is constantly constructed by the social institutions, such as labor opportunity and education, and social representation or stereotypes. The racial formation determines one’s opportunity availability reflecting one’s class and gender based on the place in the social hierarchy. Unfortunately, all of the immigrant groups were similar to Blacks: they were considered inferior and disposable to only do hazardous low paying labor. Therefore, many immigrant groups tried to work into “whiteness” by rejecting their “blackness;” however, the Irish and the Jews are the most successful immigrant groups to change their assigned racial formation to ascend from nadir to zenith of the social hierarchy.
Among the immigrant groups, the Irish were able to escape their low social status by working their way up to “whiteness.” Between 1815 and 1845, one million Irish Catholics came to the United States of America from Ireland because of the English Protestant’s religious oppression and the Great Famine during 1840s where the potato crops shortage left many Irish to starve to death and to be evicted. Many Irish migrated to the “Land of Promise” looking forward to escape poverty, starvation, and unemployment; unfortunately, the government restricted the Irish to low class labor as disposable workers working for low wage...


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...to escape religious opposition; but, upon arrival, the labor opportunity favored the Jews for their tailoring ability while the Irish were left with the railroad work. Both groups were placed at the bottom of the social hierarchy with a specific restriction: the Irish were labor opportunity and Jewish were higher education institution. Both groups worked their way to “whiteness;” they had a similar intention but used different methods. The Irish established an Irish union to reserve “white jobs” only for themselves because they knew to become “white” was to have “white” jobs to escape being associated with Blacks. The Jewish adopted “white” behaviors to escape being seen as a threat to the Whites. The Irish and Jews were able to challenge their racial formation and reshape it to meet the criteria of white supremacy to ascend to a higher class in the social hierarchy.

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