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View Diary: I just realized I starred in a racist school program 50 years ago (103 comments)

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  •  So this question was for me, yes? (12+ / 0-)

    Short answer: no!

    My maternal grandparents were none of those things above -- and let me point out again, we are talking about San Francisco.

    San Francisco was to Italians as Boston was to the Irish (if I may draw an awkward analogy). And I made my comment above to draw a parallel from an earlier time with the socially-accepted discrimination against Latinos that the OP describes.

    You don't have to look to fascism to understand prejudice. My grandparents on both sides were Anglo, Protestant, middle-class people -- and the first and second generations of Italian immigrants were other. They were widely discriminated against, and their children were just not considered socially suitable playmates by many narrow-minded people of the day -- including my grandparents.

    And I need to say also: over their lifetimes, all of my grandparents grew as people, and opened their minds and hearts considerably. Cultural prejudices shift over time, clearly -- one doesn't see "No Irish Need Apply" signs in storefronts anymore, for example.

    •  On the other hand, my uncle - who passed this (11+ / 0-)

      week - spoke about having black playmates in his early childhood in Carbon Hill, Alabama, but later there was separation as they went to separate schools and so on.  

      This was an institutional separation, and not something that people brought about through exerting their own energy on these matters, and also not something that "decent" people would question, let alone raise hell about.  

      Quite frankly, seeing these photos makes me think that it might be possible to do some research and find some of the other participants in this performance, and make a documentary about the whole affair.  


      It gets on my nerves, and you know how I am about my nerves...

      by ciganka on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 01:49:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Okay, I can definitely see where.... (6+ / 0-)

      You're coming from. People do indeed change over time, and such.

      Again, my apologies if I ended up offending anyone. =(

    •  As an Italian-American (8+ / 0-)

      I can testify to the discrimination.  It was much harder on my parents and grandparents--the latter were the immigrants.

      This was in upstate New York.  In my mother's high school, in the 1940s, there were no Italian-Americans in the college-bound classes.  My mother had straight "A"s in grade school, but was put in the secretarial and home economics "pool" once she got into ninth grade.  This is how the high school managed to segregate itself by ethnicity.  Don't look now, but it is still being done--only to other ethnicities.

      I grew up in the 1950s and it was nowhere near as bad.  There were incidents.  As a young teen I was at a party where everybody was kissing everybody else (just social cheek-pecking, really) and one boy came right up to me and said very loudly that he refused to kiss a "dago."  (Now I wonder if he would have said the same about Sophia Loren....)

      Mostly, though, I remember being angry with my mother for having what I saw as a "chip on her shoulder", poo-poohing her tales of discrimination.  I also remember, to my shame, being humiliated to go out in public with my wonderful, loving, but overweight and mourning-wearing grandmother who spoke what we used to call "broken" English.

      I grew out of the self-loathing stage.  But I cannot deny that it once existed, another casualty of American prejudice.

      "Historically, the most terrible things--war, genocide and slavery--have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience." --Howard Zinn

      by NCJan on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 09:11:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I wish my mother's family had made it to SF (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, TheDuckManCometh, NCJan, Powell

      They immigrated in 1904 from "the old country" and my grandfather found work in the coal mines of Indiana. They were from northern Italy near the French border, and they settled in a part of town with French immigrants and dropped the Italian language altogether in favor of French.

      My mother's nickname was "Frenchie," and even though the family never denied being Italian, they were desperate to assimilate, and later made English-only the rule of the house.  

      My mother's family lost their father early on, and my grandmother raised seven children by herself. The boys went to work in the mines at age fourteen, and the younger kids helped their mom with the struggle to get by.

      My father's family lost their father to the flu epidemic in 1919, and they also grew up in poverty, but they never completely accepted my mother because of her Italian-ness.

      To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut: Pure joy is waking up one morning to realize that your high school class will NOT be running the country for the next four years.

      by ebrann on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 01:53:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for your personal story. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        In my spouse's family, they went from Italian-speaking (well ... a dialect thereof) to English-only in a single generation. The grandchildren and great-grandchildren today speak and understand only English.

        The second and third generations were all given typical American names. Several in the fourth generation (my kid included) have been given beautiful Italian first and middle names -- to match the many vowels of the last name.

        There is little stigma anymore ... or there wasn't till those Jersey Shore kids came along.  ;)

        •  My mother's family dropped the final vowel (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          of their name, Barra became Barr. I gave my son an Italian middle name, Gino, which is what all his friends call him.

          I never did like the Flintstones because I thought maybe "Yogi Bear" was subtly dissing Yogi Berra. vbg

          To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut: Pure joy is waking up one morning to realize that your high school class will NOT be running the country for the next four years.

          by ebrann on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 04:27:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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