White Ethnic Americans
111e American Dream initially brought many white ethnics to the United States. The term white ethnic Americans is applied to a wide diversity of immigrantswho trace their origins to ireland and to Eastern and Southern European countries such as Poland, Italy, Greece, Germany, Yugoslavia, and Russia and other former Soviet republics. Unlike the WASPs, who immigrated primarily from Northern Europe and assumed a dominant cultural position in society, white ethnic Americans arrived late in the nineteenth century and early in the twentieth century to find relatively high levels of prejudice and discrimination directed at them by nativist organizations that hoped to curb the entry of non-WASP European immigrants. Because many of the people in white ethnic American categories were not Protestant, they experienced discrimination because they were Catholic, jewish, or members of other religious bodies, such as the Eastern Orthodox churches (Farley, 1995). Russian Americans constitute a growing population of white ethnics ill the United States today. About three million Russian Americans live in this country, and most of them were born in the United States and know only the English language.
Although they constitute only 1 percent of the u.s. population. theirnumbers have i creased Significantly in some communities (such as Pikesville, Maryland. and oslynEstates. New York). where they make up slightly less than 20 percent of the population. Since the beginning of the post-Soviet era. which is marked by thefall of the former Soviet Union in 1991, many people who immigrated to the United States from Russia have been political refugees, particularly a large number of cientists and engineers who have been employed in U.S. high-tech industries. Discrimination against White Ethnics Many white ethnic immigrants entered the United States between 1830 and 1924. Irish Catholics were among the first toarrive, with over four rnillian Irish fleeing the potato famine and economic crisis in Ireland and seeking jobs in the United States (Feagin and Feagin. 2008). When they arrived. they found that British Americans controlled the major institutions of society. TIle next arrivals were Italians who had been recruited for low-wage industrial and construction jobs. British Americans viewed Irish and Italian immigrants as foreigners”:
The Irish were stereotyped as ape-like, filthy. badtempered, and heavy d rin kers, and Ihe Italians were depicted as lawless, knife-Wielding thugs looking for a
fight-“dagos” and “wo s” (short for “without papers”) (Feagin and Feagin. 2008).
Both Irish Americans and Italian Americans were subjected to institutionalized discrimination in employment. Employment ads read “Help Wanted-No Irish Need Apply” and listed daily wages at $1.30-$1.50 for “whites” and $1.15-$1.25 for “Italians” (Gambino.