The Irish – The Hated Tribe of Europe
From the 1100s on, discrimination against the Irish was rooted in Henry II’s anti-Catholic sentiment. As they immigrated to the US in the 1800s, they were treated lesser-than-human. Cartoons were created in publications depicting them as uncivilized monkeys. Many of the modern street gangs in the US can trace its roots to the Irish-American street gangs from Five-Points, NYC. ( read more https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Irish_sentiment )
South Buffalo – My Home
Lucky for me, I lived in a better time to be Irish-American in the 1970s and 1980s. Most of my childhood was spent in South Buffalo and West Seneca. I didn’t have to worry about survival in the streets, since my father fought his way out from it to provide a better environment for me and my siblings. I fought when I had too but I took out most of my aggression in Little League Football. We weren’t well to do by any means, and may have been considered the higher class white trash in our suburban neighborhood. It wasn’t always a cake walk, but I won’t complain. Living in my area, I never really experienced any anti-Irish prejudice. The majority of this area had Irish-Catholic settlements.
The majority of the European-Americans in the city were integrated, even though many still had pride in their diverse roots (like Italians, Polish, Germans, and Irish). Most of the division were among the adolescence in the neighborhoods. The adults took out their aggression in the local pubs. Many rivals from South Buffalo and West Seneca did their fighting at Caz Park (short for Cazenovia) since it was considered neutral ground, and had less patrolling of police. Vandals weren’t uncommon in the 1990s, like one incident one moment in our history in 1993 [ https://buffalonews.com/1993/04/17/vandals-plague-historic-casino-in-cazenovia-park/ ].
Caz Park hosts many events, including the popular Caz Carnival, by the South Buffalo Football Association. In 2010, celebrating their 45th annual carnival, one of the largest fights on the grounds occurred involving over 200 people. Two South Buffalo rival gangs representing South Park Ave and Seneca Street were suspected as being the perpetrators [ http://mikeblake-myopinions.blogspot.com/2010/06/large-brawl-disrupts-otherwise-peaceful.html ].
As an adult, I returned to my roots to live in South Buffalo in 2010, right after the brawl. This section of the City of Buffalo has a rich history of Irish-Americans making their home here. Abbott road, from McKinley Parkway to Potter Road is known as the Irish Heritage District, with pubs, shops and an Irish Center. Two annual parades and two festivals are celebrated through South Buffalo, with the celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day being the biggest.
Many descendants of the original immigrants have slowly moved slowly from the city limits and beyond, but still come to celebrate their heritage here. Even though their has been a history of racial tension in South Buffalo, the neighborhoods are more diverse now, than they have ever been, and everyone is invited to join in these festivities.
There was one event in 2016, that was created by a Detroit-based white supremacist group, trying to create racial tension with their White Live Matter” group. Most of our local people weren’t having it though, protesting the out-of-towners and the small handful of local supporters. One of our local Irish-American politicians Pat Burke, who is married to a Puerto Rican woman, stated “the people who came and decided to do a white supremacist rally aren’t from here,” (Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke was on of a few elected officials who came to speak in protest of the rally). [ see new article: https://news.wbfo.org/post/white-lives-matter-rally-buffalo-outnumbered-300-protesters ].
Another racist incident occurred in 2017, when African-American man Henry King’s vehicle was vandalized with racial slurs. The local neighbors rallied in support of King, in the #IAMHOME rally [ https://www.ny1noticias.com/nyc/noticias/news/2017/06/15/anti-racism-rally-caz-park ]. For the most part, we are all from Buffalo, no matter the neighborhood. There is still a racial divide, and certainly some neighborhood rivalries, but somehow, the majority of our city’s people live together in peace.