What I would like to convey with my lesson about the 6th chapter of Takaki is the difference in African and Irish immigrants, and how they became part of American society. The question I am driving at with the lesson is- Why were Irish immigrants eventually able to wield such greater influence than Africans even though they were treated similarly upon their arrival. What advantages did the Irish have? Was it all about race or were other factors more important?
I want students to get a real idea of how these two groups progressed differently as immigrants in this country, so I will divide the students in the class based on the proportion of African to Irish immigrants starting in the mid 19th Century. Each student will represent 1 million immigrants and they will be either African or Irish. The students will be asked to stand in the front of the class with African immigrants on one side and Irish on the other. To demonstrate the differences in their progressions, I will highlight a few indicators so that students can visually see the discrepancies. Among the things I will compare:
1. Number of them who would have been slaves
2. How many would have been unionized
3. Skilled vs. unskilled labor
4. How many were able to vote
5. How many were women
6. How many attended college
7. How many settled in the cities/ how many settled in the country
I think that these visuals will give the students some idea of the vast differences in the two groups. From there I will bring the class together for a discussion on the following topics:
1. How did the elite/ ruling class/ whites keep the other races down by pitting them against each other?
2. Were there attempts to join together in common pursuit of economic fairness and justice?
3. Why couldn’t they organize effectively?
4. Was being white really enough for the Irish to overcome the stereotypes and oppression?
I would end the class by reviewing some of the 7 criteria above and showing students where the two groups stand today. Why do they think that is? Will it change?