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May 5, 2019 03:45

Why Italian-Americans should not be racist? The way in which a question is posed is as important as the answer one may give to it. Let`s start by saying that there are no neutral questions; they hide all some form of inescapable prejudice. Prejudices are neither evil nor immoral but necessary tools to survive to emotional distress.Even children show bias and prejudiced attitudes towards other children being that a natural way to approach the great mystery others constitute to the I.
Others are a dangerous threat as their proximity teaches to the subject something new and unknown about himself.

My prejudice about racism in America is simply that everybody in America is racist; therefore, I pose my inquire in this manner: if everybody is racist in America, why the Italian-Americans should not be racist?
When I said that everybody in America is racist I do not intend it in a derogatory way. I am not referring to haters or to people who believe in the superiority of their race. America is racist because it is mostly organized by races: housing, neighborhoods, cultural events, many things are organized on the base of race, gender, heritage.
Racism was institutional long time ago through slavery, and even at the end of slavery, it continued by segregation. The amendment about equality states that everybody should be treated equally or that everybody is equal in front of God. However, among men, it is not matter of concern if some differences may persist.

Churches are an important part of the American society and they do contribute to keep such differences alive. It is part of the local culture to believe that liberty of faith needs to be constantly reassured and that new points endangered ours.
Despite the progressive narrative telling that every opinion can subsist among others without this meaning a threat for our beliefs to disappear, people perceive other religions and general ways of life as competitors and rivals.
That said, it is obvious that everybody cheers for their own 'team'. Seeing your own ideals winning justifies the idea in itself. Just an example: Dante, in "de Monarchia" believed that the way the faith in Christ was miraculously spread throughout the known world was a secure sign of its veracity.

Therefore, race is not the only base for differentiate people. Another one is this faith. Then there is gender. It is also part of American culture to categorize and label every new or old tendencies and the people who follow them. The idea of norm and transgression has been replaced by the idea of groups who favor and protect their associates. Nowadays individualism works only within groups; outsiders are outsiders and have their own special labels to wear; people do not seem very comfortable without classifying you and American use English creatively inventing every day neologism to define either temporary fashions or more consolidated customs.

Every single fashion or tendency get categorized and labeled. Children at school experience the first labeling process: nerds, geeks, dorks etc. I do not call this either evil or bad; it is what it is. It is the way in which America experience life and being. For an American, being in life corresponds to have a specific identity and having an identity means to belong to a group. Races do not escape categorization. Infinite discussions are carried out by academics or even by common people about races and sensibility about races.
Should we call black African-Americans or African-Americans black? What about South Americans who are not Latinos? Labels are very important. I spent hours of class at school listening to people arguing about the way to call heritage speakers of this or that language and discovered that it is insensitive to use the word 'incomplete acquisition' when it comes to heritage speaker of a language that is not the same of the country in which they live.

American society is based on the concept of race. Every single application you fill, be it for a house or a job it will ask you about race. Even a survey about your favorite drink would do that. There is this generally accepted idea, that people of the same race have the same tastes and by the same products; therefore, industries develop such products taking races in big consideration; school and university courses are set up based on races` needs. Equality means equal representation of races. Movies or TV shows adapt their plots in order to give an equal representation of races. American society is racist in the way that it is based on races. It also would consider 'racist' overlooking race differences; it would feels like not giving to everybody the same visibility, not granting the same chances to everybody.

Americans consider this the only way to progress towards future. This is not matter of debate in the country, it is an a-priory derived by the local culture and Americans consider it the only democratic approach to the issue.
Of course, there are countries, such as Brazil, with a different histories, that would feel such labeling and categorization unnecessary and almost offensive.
They do not consume products targeted on the base of identity, meaning identity is not a common good. Saying that, it does not imply that Brazilians do not make discrimination or that they don`t fear new immigrants, as showed by the recent election of Bolsonaro.

Anyhow, I came back to where I started: why should Italian-Americans be not racist? They are part of a group and they relay to it the most that they can. They strive for their ethnicity to gain visibility and to be treated with respect. They want to be fairly represented in medias movies and books. They want their history to be studied and well known. They are jealous of new immigrants as everybody else in America; they are even jealous of the new Italian immigrants who carry an idea of national identity they cannot share as not corresponding with their traditions.
As any other race in America, they want to consume the products of their identity and their identity as a product.