What’s the Matter with White People examines the myths, stereotypes, as well as commonalities that were/are prevalent and allowed to run rampant in America’s past and present. Ms. Walsh primarily focuses on the relationship between the Blacks and the Irish at the turn of the 20th century, as well as discussing Irish “slavery” and the “Black Irish.” Black Irish is the name that was given to Irish people who either went or were sent to various West Indian islands during the 17th Century as indentured slaves.
A quote from a political figure sets the tone for each chapter. The author draws from her own personal and professional experiences to paint the picture, tell the story and shed light on why some people behave the way they do. Each chapter reminds you of statements you may have heard before, but never gave it much thought; while providing plausible explanations for them. Ms. Walsh also exposes the underhanded tactics of some politicians &/or others of influence who pitted Irish against Blacks on a regular basis.
As a reader, I found it very interesting that once the first Irish generation “moved up” out of poverty and assimilated into the mainstream they “miraculously” developed amnesia and forgot the pain, struggles and despair that they went through. They [Irish] blamed the Blacks for not having a work ethic, etc. like them, but failed to make the connection that the “ticket in” was controlled by those in power deciding to let them in (skin color) and keeping others out (skin color).
The conclusion that I came to was that all immigrant groups have a starting point, we have more in common with one another than not, but when a wedge is thrown into the mix, most not wanting to experience that “pain” (or whatever trigger) again will sell their soul and conscience not to be “one of them.”
Let’s BOND over BOOKS rating: Medium read (151-300 pages)