When Africa and Ireland Go To War
Full Title: When Africa and Ireland Go To War: An Irish-African Possibilty
Composer: Gussie L. Davis
Lyricist: Dan Packard
Published: New York, 1898
Description: Though intended to be humourous in tone, and plays on stereotypes of both African-Americans and Irish-Americans as violent, the fact that a song like this was written highlights the underlying tensions of the time. Immigrants and black Americans were on the lowest rungs on society, and often were in competition for the lowest-paying jobs. Their experiences were similar, but instead of coming together, a wedge was usually driven between competing immigrant groups, who blamed each other for their lot in life and accused the newcomers, who were usually the most desperate and willing to work for the least amount of money, for stealing their jobs. This tension often did break out into violence: in the 1863 draft riots of New York, many Irish-Americans participated in the lynching of black Americans and the burning down of the Colored Orphan Asylum.