One More Role for the IAOVC: Educating the Ignorant Ones

By: Corrado Gigante, IAOVC Board Member

As the IAOVC has become more active and more vocal about anti Italian American defamation and discrimination, we have also been faced with responding to blatantly racist and ignorant attacks. As the organization became larger and the need to put our message out to the public became clearer, we created a Facebook page. Now into its third year, our Facebook page has over five thousand followers, but not all of them “friends”.  In fact some of them can be outright vicious in their racist ranting. Others appear to be quite naïve and gullible, expressing sentiments that clearly demonstrate that their thoughts have been formed by exposure to the constant drumbeat of negative images of Italian Americans delivered daily by the larger media. Some of these non “friends” are also Italian Americans.

Let me share with you one recent Facebook posting. It is an exact copy of that which was received. I will not disclose the sender’s information but I will share the response sent to him by one of our members in the hopes of educating him. This posting came to us just last month, December 2013, from a male writer:

Hi,

I don’t really understand what your organization is about.. you want the media to portray Italians as smart, lawyers, doctors etc ??

If the media did that, it wouldn’t be believable. There needs to be some kind of truth when doing a TV show or Movie.

Italians are NOT known to be lawyers etc. Italians where I’m from (New York) are involved in organized crime and the younger ones coming through are now involved in the ‘Guido’ culture.

And before you say that’s a stereotype.. it isn’t. Have you seen Jersey Shore? They’re REAL people. Same goes for the girls on Real Housewives of New Jersey.. Jerseylicious etc.. the list goes on.

It’s not a stereotype.. It’s just the way Italians are. They like be in crime and they like the trash culture like guido and guidette style.

 It’s just the way Italians are.

In response, Dr. Stephen De Fronzo addressed his comments as follows:

….I assume you`re not doing a comedy routine, because your mail contained statements that were neither funny nor factual. Your letter wouldn`t be funny even if it were meant to be  A “PUT-ON”, but I suspect you really believe the ignorant assertions you made in your e-mail. You cited a few depraved TV Shows, using people from many Ethnic groups, whom purport to be ‘Italian” and act in the Guido-style. Yes, you can be of ANY ethnic group and adopt that  style of behavior(Andrew Dice Clay, Rob Bartlett, Snookie-none of whom are Italian) but that is in no way representative of the behavior of the large majority of American -Italians. I happen to be a Physician of Italian extraction, just like My Father, my Brother, my Paternal Uncle and my Paternal Great Uncle, who was one of the first Colo-Rectal specialists to practice in this region. That`s 5 Physicians from only one Italian-American Family. Besides my family, most of the Italian -American Families I know also have relatives who are Physicians, Teachers, Attorneys, Engineers, Business-Managers and Pharmacologists. All of them of Italian extraction. What do these facts do to your asinine argument? Your assessments were anemic before my reply. They should now be considered too diseased for life-support. Your ignorant conclusions are insulting not only to 20 Million- plus Italian-Americans but to all Americans who regularly exercise critical thinking and rise above the level of perpetuating inaccurate and demeaning stereotypes. Please, educate yourself before making such statements in the future.

In reply to Dr. De Fronzo’s response the writer sent the following:

I never said there are no Italian doctors or lawyers etc… yes, there are.. of course! but the majority of Italians are involved in white collar crime jobs, and the younger generation are now guidos and guidettes etc..

You sir do not follow the news or watch TV.

This is not made up.. Italians are going on TV saying they’re proud of it. They are REAL people. It’s a fact. Stop trying to hide that.

Italians are depicted in the media how the majority of Italians are. I am talking about the ‘MAJORITY’ and the majority of Italians in New York/ New jersey are either mobsters or guidos & guidettes.

I think because you are different, you want Italians to be seen as smart doctors etc.. but in reality, that’s not the case.

No offence intended, I just think you’re not up-to-date in today’s world.}

This is the unfortunate reality facing the Italian American One Voice Coalition in its battle with the media. As the writer notes emphatically,” You sir do not follow the news or watch TV”. Ignorance is a self inflicted disease that many willingly succumb to. Our battle is not a short term scuffle, but indeed the reeducation of a great number of people, including many Italian Americans. Join us in this journey of reeducation.