Category Archives: discrimination

No Columbus Day Parade in Philadelphia

Stu Bykofsky, a Philadelphia Daily News columnist recently asked how it is possible that Philadelphia will not have a Columbus Day parade this isgro_phillyyear.  Apparently, according to Columbus Day Parade coordinator Kathleen Murray, a state grant of $40,000 has helped cover costs in the past, but the funds didn’t materialize this year.  Bykofsky asks in his column, “How is it possible that a city with so many proud Italian-Americans, Italian cultural institutions, civic and fraternal organizations — not to mention Italian restaurants — can’t raise a piddling $40 grand? There’s almost a half-million Italians in Greater Philadelphia. If this were a family, they could be sued for nonsupport. Whatsa matter wit youse, anyways?”  While we agree with Bykofsky’s argument, his delivery is offensive! Clean up your act, Stu(pid).

Is MTV Filming “The Guidos,” a New Reality Show about Italian Americans in New Jersey?

If you thought that cable TV’s The Housewifes of New Jersey was a black eye for Italian Americans, and not just for those who call New Jersey their home, MTV may be topping that degrading program by reportedly producing a new reality show called The Guidos —  “a not-so-complimentary reference to young Italian-American men who frequent the Jersey Shore in Ocean and Monmouth counties,” according to Philadelphia’s Daily News.  If true, we say, enough is enough. Basta with the exploitation of Italian Americans.  If anyone has any more information on this planned further assault on the stereotyping of Italian Americans, please let us know.

New Jersey’s ‘Italian’ Problem

From our friends at the Wall Street Journal, we bring you the latest attention grabbing headline:   “New Jersey’s ‘Italian’ problem.”  Please ask the Wall Street Journal at askMainStreet@wsj.com, how did this New Jersey corruption scandal involving rabbis among others, turn into an “Italian Problem.”

“For the American innocent abroad, learning what our sophisticated European cousins consider scandalous can be instructive. So in the thick of an uproar involving Italy’s prime minister, a blonde call girl and lurid sex tapes, it was illuminating to flip on the TV and watch what had made the evening news: footage of a large group of politicians being carted off in handcuffs.

These were not Italian politicians, however. These were from New Jersey.

Here in Italy, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has responded to his latest scandal by saying that “Italians want me this way.” Thus far in New Jersey, no elected official has been that blatant. Yet this November’s race between incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine and Republican challenger Chris Christie will test whether New Jersey voters are fed up with the way their state has become a synonym for corruption.” (WSJ July 28, 2009)

Frank Ricci Comes To Town

You have heard about the Ricci case.  Next week, Frank Ricci will be on Capitol Hill to share his views of what happened in his case when he testifies at the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sondra Sotomayor.  In the Ricci case, the Supreme Court held that New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. discriminated against Frank Ricci when the city decided in 2004 to reject the results of a firefighters’ promotion exam.  According to Justice Alito, DeStefano rejected the test results at the urging of Rev. Boise Kimber, a black community activist who has been close to the mayor for more than a decade.  Kimber, who became chairman of the New Haven Board of Fire told the firefighters, many of whom were Italian, some men would not be hired because “they just have too many vowels in their names.”  The Supreme Court and Justice Alito had a different view.   As Frank Ricci said following the ruling, the Court’s decision shows that “if you work hard, you can succeed in America.” Let’s see now how Frank Ricci is treated by the Senators and by the media!

We are not the “Housewives of New Jersey”!

“If we take the sum total of the influences, of philosophy, of government, and in jurisprudence, discoveries, exploration, the influence on literature, on music, on art, on architecture and on science, then America would not have been the country it is without the contributions of Italians, and this stretches from the thirteenth century to the nineteenth centuries.”   Peter Sammartino 1984 (Founder of Fairleigh Dickinson University).

Miller Lite Beer Offensive Italian American Ad Withdrawn

Thanks to Joe Grano for bringing to our attention the latest attempt by a national company to promote its products by stereotyping Italian Americans as mafiosi. The MillerCoors  beer company had a new ad campaign promoting Miller Lite beer featuring a gangster character from the “The Sopranos.”

Fortunately, because of the efforts of two fast-acting Chicagoans, the company has already pulled the offensive ads. Click here to read the Chicago Sun-Times article which describes the ads and the campaign to have them pulled. You can then vote in the Sun-Times poll and let the MillerCoors company know that they did the right thing.

Apparently, in one commercial, Vincent and his sidekick enter a convenience store and ask the clerk if he needs “protection.” The clerk, pointing to a Miller Lite container, says he’s got all the protection he needs, which prompts an exaggerated “oh!” from Vincent and his sidekick. In a commercial set in a bar, Vincent asks — in a threatening tone — if the bartender needs protection. When the bartender says “no,” Vincent asks if he’s a wiseguy.

Congratulations to Lou Rago and Anthony Baratta from Chicago for their quick and effective action in having the offensive ads withdrawn. Thanks also go to Andre DiMino and Manny Alfano of UNICO New Jersey for informing the Italian-American community of the misbegotten ad campaign.

Columbus Day No More at Brown University

Early this April the faculty at Brown University voted to rename Columbus Day “Fall Weekend” on the University calendar.  Providence mayor David Cicilline ’83 said that “as an Italian-American,” he took “particular offense” to the decision.   Local Italian American groups were very upset.  “Columbus was the one that opened up this part of the world to Western civilization,” Raymond Dettore, Jr., former president of the Italo-American Club in Providence, told a local paper. Brown faculty acted in response to the clamoring of students, hundreds of whom had petitioned the university “to stop observing Columbus Day, saying Christopher Columbus’s violent treatment of Native Americans he encountered was inconsistent with Brown’s values.”  

Columbus Day, observed on the second Monday in October, has been a federal holiday since 1971. The writing is on the wall…