I am a 21-year old, Italian female, but I am categorized as white on my college transcripts, just as everyone whose ancestors originate from some part of Europe. I have never been to Italy, but I have a deep recognition of where it is I came from, even though I have accepted that in this world of so many minorities – African-American, Asian, Native American, Hispanic – I will never be regarded as or treated as anything but “a white girl” in the eyes of those who do not know the difference and do not care regardless.
Like many minorities who have had to suffer through some injustice that was unfairly placed on them upon first coming to America, my grandparents were given inferior treatment when they each first stepped off the boat into New York Harbor, before they met and married. Eventually my grandfather found work as a bus driver in the Bronx within a predominantly Italian district. They had a son named Nicholas, my father, who is categorized in today’s societal breakdown as only white.
I guess you could say I do lead the life of the stereotypical “white girl,” if that means anything. No I do not drive a new car, and my parents do not have a lot of money, but I feel I am well bred, morality wise, and I have been raised to value the importance of education. No, this is not true of all “white girls” my age, but the category is broad. It is, however, indicative of what the government seems to say about a majority of Caucasian college students-that they cannot comprehend the strifes of minority students because they have always had it easier culturally and economically. This is not always true.
However, if there were more promotions of learning in school about all cultures, including the many different breakdowns of the “white” cultures and not limited to “minority” cultures, as they are considered as such in America, than the United States might really have a notion of what people’s identities are. We might have more respect for individual cultures and then begin to break down the immense divisions into small pieces, easily taken in and digested and without resentment, animosity or remorse.
A year ago, I went out with a Mexican guy. Always, but not purposely, true to the white girl I have grown up as in California, I had never dated out of what this country says my race is before I met him. One day he and I stopped at Burger King on our way somewhere, and by the fact that it was sweltering hot out, we decided to eat inside. While in line, a family of people came up behind us. I guess you could say they were white. One of the guys wore a shirt with a Confederate flag printed on the front. His wife had no shoes on. When she laughed, or smirked, her brown, rotten, crooked teeth became exposed. Normally I would not have paid attention, but they were laughing at us.
The two of us became victims of a racial attack because we were of different races. We were snickered at and called “disgusting.” It may have had something to do with the fact that we were in Ontario and in Burger King, (home of the 99 cent Whopper), that we were harassed, but it just goes to show the ignorance that can prevail. Hate is a very scary thing, especially when it is for no real reason.
I want to protect my children from racism by educating them. If they are born from a white man, I want them to know about their heritage as far back as it can be traced, as well as other races. If they have a Mexican father, I want them to know all about the Mexican struggle in this country as well as the struggle of the Italian, regardless of which is considered worse or more important. Maybe if parents took the extra step to educate children about all races and at the same time taught them to accept beauty in all people, racism would be exterminated by education.
The day my daughter comes home from school crying because she was called, “a dumb white girl,” is the day she will begin to understand the difference between what they call her and what she really is – a human being bleached with love and understanding from inside her heart to the surface of her skin – she cannot be marred by ignorance, only strengthened.
Raechel Fittante, a junior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.