Italians:How white are they?
I have always heard African Americans refer to Italians as light skinned Niggers or Africans that have lost their way. Even a black leader named Noble Drew Ali claimed that Italians were actually half Asiatic Moors. I even had a teacher that told us about whiteness and how not everyone from Europe is technically white but over time have been allowed to become white. He pointed that this case is clearer in American history than any other because it is not hidden and one can easily go back and find the evidence to prove what he was teaching. I, being a curious person decided to take him up on his offer and see if it was true.
The Italian people started to come to America during the eighteen thirties, upon their arrival they were deemed a lower class of human than the Irish which says a lot since the Irish were considered the missing link between Humans and gorillas. Part of the accusations against the Italians were there skin tone and the proximity of Africa and Italy especially Sicilians. They were deemed to be a lazy, dirty, gossipy, and more of a criminal minded people. What worried the Americans the most about these new light skinned Negros were there primitive sexual prowess which had many pale white women wanting intense Latin affections. One of the strangest things I find is that the most Americans agreed that they were unfit to be Civilized, I find this odd seeing as America is named after an Italian and that our founding fathers looked towards Rome and Greece for there inspiration of how the New Nation should be and even the buildings were made to look like ancient Roman and Greece time period. But they were deemed uncivilized none-of-the-less.
In the south as in other parts of America segregating was normal and many white Americans did not want their children going to school with these greasy Italians. The main reason for this reason was that the Italians were considered Blacker than Blacker. In the 1890’s a new term was coined for the Italian population the term was GUINEA, which was originally been used for West Coast African slaves. This deepened the connection of Italians and Blacks even among the most liberal Northerners. Other comparisons were made between the two how both liked to play cars, throw dice, how they were over confident while being shiftless. It was pointed out that the Italian populace had tons of illegitimate children and how young girls had children of their own. Woodrow Wilson during his years at Princeton University wrote a paper on how the Italians were sordid and hapless.
An odd thing happened in the year 1904 Popular Science as well as the American majority welcome Northern Italians to America because of their light complexions and how they were more trade oriented. Many of them being Masons as well as many of them having Blond hair with light blue eyes. This caused a slight rift between the Northern and Southern Italians in America because the Northern Italians helped fuel the hatred of southern Italians. While the Northern Italians were considered a step in the right direction of whiteness the Southern Italians were considered sexual animalistic of very low dog like intelligence.
In 1911 an anthropologist named George A. Dursley went to Italy to study them in their natural habitat. He concluded that the southern Italians were of Negroid ancestry and should be held at arms length from civilized moral humans beings. During the same year many tried to get laws passed to disallow southern Italians from having the right to immigrate to the United States. The Congress seeing how criminal minded and low of morals the southern Italians were deemed that they held a debate as to whether they should consider them to be Caucasian which went unresolved. The reason this went unresolved was due to the open knowledge that the Calabrians and Sicilians had African ancestry from both the Berbers and the Saracen peoples. It was deemed that these southern Italians were the lowest people of Europe and that not only did they have African Ancestry but might even have Asiatic ancestry as well. Which is true for most people of the Mediterranean Sea. Another thing that bothered the white populace was the wide spread intermixing of Italians with both whites and blacks. They had children and often-entire families with people of both races. And to most it seemed that the Southern Italians lacked good Christian morals. According to most school system the Southern Italians were a people of boarder retardation the people to score lower was the polish. The only jobs they seemed to qualify for were labor jobs. As far as the military most people did not want them in due to their criminal tendencies and were would you place them among the races.
In 1919 Harvard professor wrote a study paper on how the Italians lacked the America work ethic and compared them over and over again to the former African Slaves. One of the primitive aspects he held against them was there ability to work in hot weather but not in cold weather seeing that only primitive peoples had those type of feelings. Many company owners preferred to have Black worker to the greasy foreigners. He concluded that Italians due to their loose living especially among the men had child like minds and that was the reason they could not be apart of Civilization.
During the Color Riot of Chicago during 1919 the Italians took no part and remained on good terms with their African neighbors. Many African Americans lived in Italian communities because they felt safe and often the two peoples helped one another out with financial, educational, and family life. During the 1920’s it was often remarked at how the Italians did not have any prejudice against the Black community. Many Italians and Blacks lived in the same houses. Also, the Italians were the only ones to vote along side African Americans and in many cases voted the same way as their African neighbors. During the 1930’s and 1940’s in New York the hardest fighter for Civil rights was Vito Marcantonio who was a left wing congressman of Harlem that had loads of Blacks and Italians living there.
One of the most fascinating things is that during all of this the Italian people never called themselves white. They would only refer to themselves as either North or Southern Italians or simply the place in Italy they were or family was from.
The religious practices of the Italians worried the majority of America as well not because the rituals but because they displayed depictions of Madonna and several saints as Black. In Harlem the feat day of St.Benedict the Moor: an Ethiopian brought to Sicily who was a pure man was held annually. Italians from Harlem were often referred to as the Holy Negro.
Though the Italian community did well they also did bad things as far as breaking the law that in some ways turned out to be good. The Italians are the soul reason prohibition against liquor failed. During World War 2 it was the Irish and the Italians that joined the military in record numbers changing the perception of their peoples. Still, it wasn’t until the mid to late 1950’s during the time of American Rock n’ Roll that the Italians (mostly Northern) were allowed in the White Club which Malcolm X often made fun of the Newly White Italians saying that he knew how they got there color and how many Italians had to give up the knowledge of there own ancestry, people, and culture in order to be allowed in. Malcolm was not 100% wrong though the Italians did hold onto some aspects of their culture most of it was chopped off or at least not spoken about. All the Catholic Churches made sure all depictions of Christ, Mary and all the saints were white. Many had to disassociate themselves with their African friends and often families.
Of course many still remember history though organizations such as the Sons of Italy and many Italians grand parents try to remove this part of history by not passing the knowledge down the truth is Italians are just Niggaz with short memories as Chuck Nice said. And in many cases its true, most Italian Americans will be reading this thinking its full of crap. I hope they go and learn. Many people of Southern Italian heritage try to maintain there pure whiteness despite the obvious mixed ancestry they have. I have even heard Southern Italians deny any breeding ever took place between Africa and Southern Italy but if you read your history you will know the truth. I leave now with Old Roman saying: Africa begins with Rome. It seems that they knew the truth and now you do too.