An Italian Thinks Out Loud

26 November 2003

Why are Italians patronized?

By Craig J. Cantoni

(For Internet publication)

Last night, as part of a school assignment, I took my son to an exhibit on aviation. There was only one display at the exhibit that spotlighted ethnicity, and true to form, it was about Italians—Italian pilots to be exact. How embarrassing and insulting to feature my ethnic group and no others, as if it was surprising to the organizers of the exhibit that Italians have enough intelligence to fly an airplane.

There was a front-page story the same day about Italians in the Arizona Republic, which is the largest-circulation daily in the Gannett empire next to USA Today. The story was even more embarrassing and insulting than the exhibit. Fortunately, I was able to throw the newspaper away before my son could see it and think that there is something wrong with his ethnic heritage.

The story said that Italians are a minority, because they represent only 6 percent of the United States population, have olive skin, are not Anglo, immigrated to this country speaking a foreign language, and took menial jobs that no one else wanted. It went on to say that Italian students have difficulty adjusting to college life, due to their minority status and due to the fact that they are often the first member of their family to attend college and don’t have anyone to explain the ropes to them. Accordingly, Arizona State University singles them out for special hand holding, apparently assuming, as the organizers of the aviation exhibit did, that all Italians are inherently inferior because of their ethnicity and can’t make it on their own.

Isn’t that the definition of racism? Whatever it is, I find it very troubling that when my son goes to college, he will treated differently, solely because he has a vowel at the end of his name. That’s not why my impoverished grandparents immigrated to this country.

Thank goodness I was not treated differently when I went to college, even though, as the son of working-class parents, I was the first Cantoni to attend college. Had I been singled out, I might have grown up with an ethnic chip on my shoulder and viewed myself as an oppressed minority the rest of my life.

Okay, time to come clean. The exhibit and newspaper story were not about Italians. They were about Hispanics, who outnumber Italians in Arizona by a factor of four but are mislabeled as ”minorities” by the establishment media, the government, corporations and universities.

The question is, why don’t Hispanics feel insulted and embarrassed over being patronized and treated as inherently inferior to other ethnic groups?

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Mr. Cantoni is an author, columnist and leader in equal rights for 30 years. He can be reached at

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  1. InTheMex04    3 February 2004, 09:39    #

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  6. Raffaella    7 October 2004, 09:41    #

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  9. PhillyMob    18 October 2004, 21:52    #

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