Were immigrants discriminated for their race,ethnicity,social class,etc?

Charles

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Mar 28, 2015
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As many people know, the Steerage Class section onboard was where most immigrants traveled through.

On behalf of these immigrants onboard, how were they treated by Steerage passengers that were not either on business or vacation? Were they nativists like many First Class and Second Class passengers were, OR were they friendlier?

Also, the passengers that looked down on the immigrants- what was the main reason they discriminated them? Was it because their race was White, Black, Asian, Pacific Islander, American Indian, ANY RACE THEY DISLIKED? Or was it mostly upon that they were not a SPECIFIC ETHNIC HERITAGE as them? Or was it based on THEIR SOCIAL CLASS?

Or was it all of these combined or nothing at all?
 

Arun Vajpey

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Apr 21, 2009
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As far as I can understand from what I have read from various sources, there was probably no more discrimination against passengers of non-Caucasian origin on board the Titanic and other ships than was considered the "norm" for that day and age on dry land. The same thing was probably true for different social classes as well but perhaps not as sharply demarcated.

Harsh as it may sound, both the discriminators and the discriminated were products of the society at the time and the latter simply accepted being looked down upon as a fact of life.
 
A

Aaron_2016

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Got a busy commuter train on Saturday (standing room only). The conductor had good sense to ask everyone to bunch up close together so that more passengers could board the train and she advised all sitting passengers to remove their coats and bags and store them away to allow more room for others boarding the train. One girl refused because she did not want anyone sitting next to her, a man pretended the seat next to him was damp (it wasn't), and another girl pretended to have a coughing fit every time someone approached the seat next to her which made them think twice and moved away.

This made me think of the snobbery boarding the lifeboats and if this had in any way affected the duty of the officers as they tried to fill the lifeboats. According to Lightoller the officers used their own initiative to fill the lifeboats, but if they did not believe the ship was sinking would they focus too much on the comfort of the passengers instead of the safety of the passengers? e.g.


Did the officers fail to count the number of heads in each lifeboat before lowering away? (sounds like a common sense thing to do).

Did they fail to ask the passengers (regardless of class) to sit close together and to ignore their complaints about discomfort and being overly crowded? e.g. I'm sure some ladies in First class must have objected to sitting close to steerage passengers and may have kept their distance and yelled to the officer that there was no more room in the boat when they knew there was plenty of room.

Did the lifeboats fail to return after the Titanic had sunk because the survivors thought the cries were coming from steerage passengers and therefore not worth saving until the noises had quietened down as the steerage were deemed to be too hysterical? e.g.


Mr. Harder - "After it went down, we heard a lot of these cries and yells. You could not hear any shouts for help, or anything like that. It was a sort of continuous yelling or moaning. You could not distinguish any sounds. It was more like what I thought it was the steerage on rafts, and that they were all hysterical. That is the way it sounded in the distance."

Mrs White - "We heard the yells of the steerage passengers as they went down"


.
 
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Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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There was certainly discrimination in the loading of the boats, but only that relating to age and gender. Plus the passenger/crew distinction - Lightoller, for instance, refused admission even to the stewardesses. If there had been any tendency to favour those who paid most for their tickets, the crew loading the boats would have found it rather difficult to precisely assess the status of each passenger - the 1st Class were mostly 'dressed for the deck' rather than in white tie and tails, and neither were the 3rd Class conveniently dressed like costermongers. If you look at contemporary crowd photos of people at locations like railway stations and seaside promenades, it's hard to tell the social class of each individual even in broad daylight and without the encumbrance of life jackets, and I doubt that the Titanic's deck crew had the time or inclination to cross-examine their charges..

The reluctance to take in swimmers after the sinking was clearly due to the lifeboat occupants' concern for their own safety rather than their comfort. But certainly there were 1st Class women survivors who later expressed disgust that their eminent husbands had died to make room in the boats for female members of the great unwashed who had no distinction other than their gender.
 
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Rose Sullivan

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Jun 7, 2019
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I am stunned and dismayed to read in the comment above that Lightoller « refused admission even to the stewardesses »

Is this really true?

I am reluctant to believe that Lightoller would have turned any woman away, even if he knew her to be a stewardess...However, if it is true, here is a disturbing thought: Is it possible that the two second class stewardesses known to have perished in the sinking died because they were turned away from the lifeboats by Lightoller?
 
Nov 14, 2005
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I am stunned and dismayed to read in the comment above that Lightoller « refused admission even to the stewardesses »

Is this really true?

I am reluctant to believe that Lightoller would have turned any woman away, even if he knew her to be a stewardess...However, if it is true, here is a disturbing thought: Is it possible that the two second class stewardesses known to have perished in the sinking died because they were turned away from the lifeboats by Lightoller?
Yes he turned away the stewardesses according to his testimony at the inquries. I guess its possible they did but I don't know that for sure. Welcome to the board.

Senator SMITH.
How were these passengers selected in going to the lifeboats?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
By their sex.
Senator SMITH.
Whenever you saw a woman?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Precisely.
Senator SMITH.
She was invited to go into one of these boats?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Excepting the stewardesses. We turned several of those away.
Senator SMITH.
Except the employees?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Except the stewardesses; yes.
 
Nov 14, 2005
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No problem. I had to go and look that up myself so I learned something new to me. Its been awhile since I read thru the whole inquries and didn't remember that. Its all good.