ARE ITALIANS WHITE? HOW RACE IS MADE IN AMERICA (PAPER) by IGUGLIELMO, JENNIFER .
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Journalist to construction boss,
"Is an Italian a white man?"
My father calls to tell me he has been cleaning out his files. He has found
some documents, he says, that I might want, since I have recently showri such
interest in my immigrant Italian grandparents. I ask him what they are.
"Oh, naturalization papers, visas, some birth records, death certificates,"
he says. "IVothing really important."
I tell him to bring them over right away, for to me they are important. I
know that if I do not claim them immediately, they might wind up in the
trash like other family mementos did after my father remarried, for my father
likes to jettison what he considers to be the detritus of his former life.
My father, more than anyone I know, lives in the present, considers his
past a burden, an obstacle that he overcame that is unconnected to who he
has chosen to become: an American. That he once lived in Italy in a small
village near Sorrento, that his heritage is southern Italian, that he grew up
poor in Hudson County, New Jersey, that he was taunted as a boy for being
Italian and short and scrawny, that he was savaged by a superior in the Navy
during World War
for the same reasons, he shrugs off as insignificant. So
that, in the 1940s and 1950s, I did not grow up with stories of "life in the