What are you whining about? We were slaves too! (Debunking the myth of the Irish “slave”)


So this eye catching meme popped up in my Facebook news feed recently. Before I begin to address this, I want to note that it is not my goal to turn this into an Olympics of Oppression debate i.e. “my ancestors had it worse than your ancestors.” That is definitely NOT my intention. What I would like to do is address the Irish “slave” phenomenon and why it appears to be picking up steam in recent years. This meme was shared by an Irish gentleman on my friends list, via an Irish Americans Facebook group.

Judging by the verbiage in the meme, I can assume the “pussies looking for free shit” are African-Americans, no? We’re the ones “bitching how the world owes [us] a living?” The narrative they’re trying to push is, what excuse do black people have for their station in life? I mean, look at us Irish folk; not only were we enslaved in America, but the number of Irish slaves greatly outnumbered those of African slaves AND we were brutalized far worse than African slaves. And guess what? We didn’t allow oppression to keep us in a perpetual cycle of poverty.

OK, I get it. You’re sick and tired of Black Lives Matter and “ungrateful” black athletes not standing for the national anthem but that doesn’t mean you get to revise history to fit a specific narrative. I mean, those poor Irish indentured servants were stacked like sardines, naked, in the hull of a slave ship departing the coast of Dublin for the New World, where 15% (roughly 2 million) didn’t even survive the journey. Next, the Irish had to endure standing naked on an auction block and watch helplessly as their children, parents, siblings, etc. were sold off to the highest bidder, never to be seen again. They were lynched and terrorized for generations just for wanting to possess the same basic civil liberties that other Americans enjoyed (the right to vote, equal education, etc.). Yes indeed, the Irish have most definitely endured a hell in America that African-Americans can only dream of.

Sorry for that bit of sarcasm but I was definitely taken aback when I saw this meme in my news feed. This same meme has been shared extensively on white supremacist websites as well. Yes, I am aware that there was a period in this nations history where the Irish were discriminated against. I am not denying that historical fact. But let’s not treat history like silly putty, stretching and contorting events to meet our hateful agendas (Civil War revisionists anyone?).