Italy is a country usually mentioned when people talk of all the nationalities that have immigrated to the United States. However, there are many misrepresentations of Italians and our culture here that greatly annoy me and others like me.
Italians started departing for other lands in late 1800s and early 1900s; popular destinations included South America and the United States. Of the “new wave” of immigration during this era, three million Italians settled here, bringing with them their hard working attitude and unique culture.
I am mostly Italian (my mother is full-blooded), with most of my roots spawning from the southern region of Calabria. I am extremely proud to originate from a nation as impactful in history as Italy (Roman Empire, Renaissance), and I show it in all my personal life in the language I speak at home, sports teams I follow, and my musical influences.
However, I cannot go about in public stating how proud I am of my Italian heritage without interjections involving annoying stereotypes that have absolutely no foundation.
“I am pretty proud to be from an Italian family,” says freshman Maria Passalacqua. “I also don’t like some of these things people make up about us, and they’re unfair to Italians who are not like that.”
One is that we are loud and obnoxious. Non-Italians tend to think that all Italians do is yell and scream at one another and spread gossip.
I, admittedly, am very quarrelsome and generally unaccepting of opinions conflicting with my own. Yes, Italians do argue with one another from time to time. Apparently, people belonging to other lineages have absolutely no problems or debates. All people argue with each other, and this generalization should not be restricted to just Italians.
“The one that we are loud and obnoxious is one I definitely don’t like,” says sophomore Nick Lupiano. “I don’t think I’m loud or annoying, and I never want to be.”
Another stereotypical view on Italians, regarding our physical appearance, is that all Italians are fat, old Mafiosi types. Thank you “The Sopranos”.
This is completely unjustified. I admit I myself am a pretty big guy (shoulder-wise), but the giant belly people would expect I have is not present. Plus, even Mafiosi from the old years were skinny and not typically big, as well as being young.
The most annoying stereotype for me is the notion that we all appear and act like the “Italians” they see on TV shows such as the “Jersey Shore”.
Shows like this depict Italians as uneducated people all with names such as “Pauly” or “Vinny”, constantly tanned/tanning, having gelled up hair, striving to be DJs or MCs at parties, going to dance clubs on a nightly basis, and having New York accents.
I consider myself a very educated person as I possess considerably high grades across most of my classes. My name is Thomas (I hate being called Tommy). Despite having naturally tanned skin from my Italian blood, I hate tans (possibly a trait I inherited from my Irish blood), and I put on the highest SPF sunscreen I can find during the summer. I comb my hair back. I detest all forms of “music” typically used by DJs, usually putting in my headphones to listen to my rock/metal music at parties, let alone attend a dance club. I was only born in Brooklyn and moved here when I was young; I firmly consider myself a proud New Jerseyan.
Yes, you can enjoy and learn about our culture, although it is more likely that you will just like us for our food, which is a very good reason. Please, though, stop creating all of these stereotypes, as they are untrue and annoying.
What untrue stereotypes do people say about your heritage?