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Though they may not have had the wealth of lowland planters, the Scots-Irish were part of the aristocracy of skin.But ultimately this system, which waxed around 1900, has left us in the 21st century in a confused state when it comes to talking about race and class.
What these people lack in cosmopolitan openness, they make up for in adherence to authentic values which can’t but help earn some admiration.After 250 years they have only the vaguest recollections of the nature of their British antecedents.In Ornamentalism David Cannadine makes the case that the British saw their Empire through the lens of class as much, or more than, race.The poorest white was superior to the wealthiest non-white in the social culture of the United States in the 19th century. But today the elision of distinctions among white Americans without explicit ethnicity (e.g., Polish, Jewish, etc.), those whites whose Anglo-American heritage is part of the cultural DNA of this nation, results in the bracketing of all together as beneficiaries of white privilege.
This position of Scots-Irish as part of the aristocracy of race and white skin privilege leads to perverse situations.On the other hand, when I’ve been introduced to their clan-based social structures by close friends, it is a uniquely close-knit and life-affirming culture that I’ve been honored to participate in.