Luciano Lamonarca is president of the Puglia Center in America, which promotes the Region of Puglia in all its aspects, especially in the creation and exchanges of cultural, tourist and educational assets between the Puglia region of Italy and the United States of America. First and foremost, however, Luciano is an accomplished tenor in his own right, as you will hear when you access his commemorative site to Mario Del Monaco.
What you find below is an email that Joseph Guagliardo sent out to a number of people a few days ago. Being one of the people on his list, I asked him if I could share it with you all here on i-Italy, so that more of you would also see it. He immediately said yes. While Mr. Guagliardo’s email below speaks to the specifics of the Columbus Statue’s current state of affairs — namely, the Tatzu Nishi enclosure and the creation of a living room in which to visit Columbus — it speaks to a series of much larger issues as well, albeit indirectly in this context.
Italian/American Studies will flourish only if it gets the requisite support, first and foremost, from its community in order for it then to be part of the larger discourse. We need to support our artists, writers, and scholars.
Italian/American Studies is (some might say should be) becoming more and more part of Italian Studies in the United States. As some of you know, there are a few outlets dedicated to scholarship on the Italian diaspora here in the United States. I am connected to two of them.
While it remains unclear at this point who is responsible for the terrorist act in Brindisi (Puglia) this morning, the perpetrators' choice of target is absolutely inscrutable. It figures, as this blog goes to press, as an obscure episode that also fuels political and social tensions.
The ignorance of our history has cast some of our “paesani” into the hinterlands of bigotry and prejudice, and thus led them to their coincidental and shameful consequences of non-acceptance of those who are not like us! I can arrive at no other conclusion as I offer up the three incidents below.
Along with the various observations that have been made by three of our esteemed colleagues (De Stefano, Gardaphé, Krase), and I must emphasize that I am in agreement as well with other sentiments that they raise, one must indeed recognize the merits of Roberto Saviano’s work these past four-plus years. He has put himself, literally, on the line, and we might readily agree that no “fame” or “wealth,” however significant or insignificant it may be, is worth the risk.
A television host invites an Italian American to come and speak about the potential negativity from something like “Jersey Shore,” and yet cannot help himself from making a silly, equally offensive remark at the closing of the episode.
“After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, people from all over the world reached out to the firefighters and police officers of New York City and their families. At the forefront were people from all Regions of Italy who made generous contributions to the victims’ families and even hosted families during visits to Italy. Strong personal friendships developed, and many of us, individually and collectively, had renewed interest in our heritage. The FDNY Columbia Association, started by firefighters to meet the needs of the City’s Italian American community, now has an International Division with strong ties to our brothers and sisters in the Vigili di Fuoco. While ignorance and hatred may have been the cause of the tragedy of 9/11, concern for one another and the spirit of shared values ultimately triumphed.”
Chief, Fire Department, 2001-2002
2010 proved to be an intriguing year with regard to language studies. We saw some programs hit hard, others were actually saved (or so it seems), and others still were re-launched. In the end, with regard to Italian, we saw the Advanced Placement program in Italian re-launched, thanks to the efforts of so many within the Italian (read, also Italian/American) community here in the United States. One sentiment, however, seemed to raise its pesky head: namely, that we do not need to understand other languages than our own because, after all, we can read things in translation. One of these pieces was penned by John McWhorter and appeared in his The New Republic blog. I had sent a response to TNR, but they were “not interested” in it. Thus, after some musings and chats with friends and colleagues, I thought I would share it here with our readers of i-Italy.