Italian-American

November 4th, 2006

Today, someone (an American) who doesn’t even know me, told me that I’m delusional and ignorant to call myself Italo-American, and that no matter what I say or do I’ll always be just American. I didn’t take it to heart too much, as I don’t know this guy, and he certainly doesn’t know my story or my family. But it did get me on the defensive a little bit (little does he know). I shouldn’t even be spending any energy talking about this, but I need to get it out of my system.

I have suffered through some serious bureaucracy to claim the Italian citizenship that I was unknowingly born with (please let that process finish up soon…!!)

I was raised Italian-American. I’ve never been taught to call myself anything but Italian-American. It’s just part of my identity, it’s who I have always known myself to be, ever since I could talk. I don’t think I could ever feel natural using any other term to describe myself. It just wouldn’t be right.

I have passed through this land so many times in search of myself, and have been fortunate to have a grandmother who always stayed in touch with our relatives over here. I am so thankful to have been treated as a daughter and sister by my wonderful cousins (etc.) in Lucca and Pistoia when I’m passing through.

I’ve always known, in the deepest part of my soul, that this is where I belong. The vibration of the earth here calms me. When I am here there is a voice that says, “home”. This does not mean that I am negating my American-ness is any way. I feel very blessed and proud to have been born in the United States, particularly Seattle. I am American. It’s just that Italy is my country too. I’m sorry if anybody out there is too jealous or narrow-minded to accept the fact that I have found myself here and am very much Italian-American, in every sense of the term. Nothing makes me more proud than this.

Update: Here is an interesting article on the internment of Italian-Americans during WW2.

Entry Filed under: sono io

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jessica Brogan  |  November 4th, 2006 at 7:35 pm

    italian or american…? Those are labels. What makes this boy Italian…besides the country where he was born. And that was not his decision. You were born elsewhere, but have apparently moved hell and high water to get to Italy, to embrace that aspect of yourself, and to honor that culture. And that’s probably more than he can say for being Italian. Leave people like him to rest with their pessimistic thoughts; He’s ignorant.

  • 2. Tina  |  November 4th, 2006 at 8:12 pm

    Hi Jessica! Correction – he was American. :)

    Thanks for your supportive comment! :)

  • 3. Autumn  |  November 5th, 2006 at 12:28 am

    Be proud of who you are. My mother’s family is from Messina. I have been living in Italy for almost 4 years and I still don’t have the courage to meet the “family”. I feel my italian is not good enough and I feel a bit ambivalent abount meeting them…
    Anyways you are doing the right thing. Don’t listen to those assholes!

  • 4. sassysonya  |  November 5th, 2006 at 9:44 am

    This was an interesting post as it is something that I think is commonly-experienced by people who are decendants of migrants. Countries such as the US, Canada, UK and Australia were built on migration and most of the population would be descendant of migrants. This being the case, how do you identify yourself? Like you said you identify yourself with your cultural heritage yet appreciate your American upbringing. I don’t think you can choose between the two because you do belong to both. I consider myself Maltese/Australian because my beliefs, values, lifestyle reflect both cultures…

    At the end of the day it’s all about what you feel most comfortable with – no one can tell you who you are supposed to be!

  • 5. bellissimatina  |  November 5th, 2006 at 10:33 am

    You know what’s interesting is Argentina. Even though Argentina is also made up of immigrants (mostly Italian!), they only consider themselves Argentine. Though if I came from the country that had Tango and good steak and yerba mate and the chacarera, I’d do the same thing. :-) hehehe

  • 6. nyc/caribbean ragazza  |  November 6th, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    I don’t know what that guy’s problem was. You are Italian-American.

    Very interesting post. I was born in America but my parents are French West Indian. I am applying for my French passport. Adding race to the mix makes it interesting. African-American means your family has been in the States for years descendants of slaves. My parents came to America in 1960s and I spent almost every summer with my grandparents on the island. I’m a combination of America and the Caribbean, two very, very different cultures. Of course the place where I feel most at home is Rome, which makes no damn sense.

  • 7. glittertip  |  November 8th, 2006 at 9:08 am

    That guy’s comments really bother me. I grew up (outside of philadelphia) being called Wop, Goomba, Guido, Dago and Guinea– to name a few… all because my last name ended in a vowel and my mother is from Rome. I was often asked how well she made pizza, if she had a moustache, and what kind of cars my mafia dad had in our voluminous garage. All the kind of stereotypes that definitely distinguished me as Italian-American.

    If you would like, please send your friend my email and I will describe to him why you can call yourself Italian-American– it is about pride for both cultures that make up your background. You have a history that you choose to acknowledge– thats what makes you Ital-americana…

  • 8. Katie  |  November 9th, 2006 at 5:16 am

    Amen Sista!!! Who cares what he thinks….ignorant Americans.

  • 9. marisa  |  November 28th, 2006 at 3:16 pm

    Wow! Ciao!
    So nice to happen upon your blog. I too am an Italian American. Both of my parents originally from Italy. My wish is to someday have dual citizenship. I consider myself BOTH american and italian.
    My father is from Pordenone(near Venezia) and
    my mom is from Marsala, Sicilia.

    I think whoever claimed to be all high and mighty with their IGNORANCE should be shamed. They are just jealous of your good fortune to be living in Italia.

    Go tango!

  • 10. Laura  |  August 6th, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    Tina- You are Italian-American. Period.
    I have had the same thing said to me and I am proud to say I am first generation American with an Italian father and Irish mother. A lot of people don’t know my mom is from Ireland but I believe that is because I feel more Italian at heart than Irish (or American). That said I have great pride when I tell people where my parents are from and you do as well-it’s part of who you are, and no one can take that away from you.
    Good luck with that citizenship!

  • 11. Tina  |  August 6th, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    Thanks for the comment Laura! :-)

    My mother is of Irish heritage as well…(though my mom’s side of the family has been in the States for generations) what a coincidence!

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