FACT: The Irish Were NEVER SLAVES In America


We’ve all had that “But Irish were slaves too” BS thrown at us but facts are facts and this is a complete distortion of history. The Irish were not slaves and not owned just like Africans, this so far from the truth.

Liam Stack wrote in the NY Times:

It has shown up on Irish trivia Facebook pages, in Scientific American magazine, and on white nationalist message boards: the little-known story of the Irish slaves who built America, who are sometimes said to have outnumbered and been treated worse than slaves from Africa.

But it’s not true.

Historians say the idea of Irish slaves is based on a misreading of history and that the distortion is often politically motivated. Far-right memes have taken off online and are used as racist barbs against African-Americans. “The Irish were slaves, too,” the memes often say. “We got over it, so why can’t you?”

A small group of Irish and American scholars has spent years pushing back on the false history. Last year, 82 Irish scholars and writers signed an open letter denouncing the Irish slave myth and asking publications to stop mentioning it. Some complied, removing or revising articles that referenced the false claims, but the letter’s impact was limited.


The article continues to lay out the difference between slavery of Africans and the low paid badly treated work many Irish came over to do. Of course some were treated badly (as some poor American workers were) but the category is very different and they WERE NOT SLAVES in the same sense at all. Comparisons are not helpful for anyone.

Read more in the NY Times piece here.


PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.

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