Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne Issues Apology to Italian American One Voice Coalition for his use of Pejorative Term for Italian Americans
Coalition lauds auto executive for sensitivity to its concerns.
NEW JERSEY – The Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition (ONE VOICE) – the nation’s largest Italian American anti-bias organization – announced its receipt of a formal written apology from Chrysler/Fiat CEO, Sergio Marchionne, for his use of a pejorative term, offensive and denigrating to Italian Americans, that he verbalized earlier this year at a press conference at The Detroit Auto Show. At the widely reported incident, Marchionne was commenting on the long-delayed introduction of the new generation of Alfa Romeos. He stated, “I won’t put an American engine into that car. With all due respect to my American friends, it needs to be a wop engine.” According to Reuters, after reporters registered evident surprise at his use of an ethnic slur, Marchionne turned to one of them and asked, “Why are you surprised?”
Mr. Marchionne stated that he was (at the time of the press conference) of the opinion that the use of negative and derogatory terms, such as “wop,” were funny and, he alleges, that he used the term “in jest.” However, after a strong and relentless campaign by ONE VOICE, led by its Founder and President Dr. Manny Alfano, Mr. Marchionne issued a written letter to the Coalition, addressed to Dr. Alfano, wherein he acknowledged his remarks were unacceptable and apologized to “anyone who may have been offended” by those remarks.
During the effort to obtain the apology, ONE VOICE, through a campaign of emails and letters, repeatedly emphasized that ethnic slurs and negative images are not funny and, in point of fact, extremely damaging to the Italian American community at large. ONE VOICE is an organization dedicated to fighting negative stereotypes and images, which have perpetrated the public conscience to the detriment of the Italian American image.
“We are so pleased that Mr. Marchionne has responded to our efforts,” stated Dr. Alfano after receiving Marchionne’s letter. “On behalf of our Board of Directors, our members, Coalition Organizations and Italian Americans in general, I thank Mr. Marchionne and Chrysler/Fiat for their sensitivity to our concerns,” he continued. The letter is posted at the ONE VOICE Facebook page. Dr. Alfano also extended ONE VOICE’s thanks to Chrysler Senior VP, Jody Trapasso and the Chrysler/Fiat PR staff for “…recognizing, with great sensitivity, the importance of the subject matter to all those of Italian descent.”
To view letter, click here.
ONE VOICE is different from other Italian American groups in that its sole focus and objective is to fight bias, stereotyping and discrimination against Italian Americans. It is the only national Italian American organization with this exclusive mandate. Visit iaovc.org
ONE VOICE issues an email newsletter, “The Alfano Digest,” published by Mr. Alfano, to more than 5,000 individuals and Italian American organizations nationwide.
Contact: Sebastian D’Elia, ONE VOICE Communications Director, 908-770-3662