The Vergognosi of Staten Island
It's happened again.
A morning news report on the radio announces a racist attack against blacks, this time on election night, on Staten Island.
In recent days, Jewish individuals and groups have been discussing the “shanda” (Yiddish for shame, disgrace) engendered by Bernard Madoff’s $50 billion Ponzi scheme and organizing public forums. We Italian Americans share the vergogna (shame) and disgrazie (disgrace) of this heinous racist crime on Staten Island.
In 2005, after an Italian American was arrested in Howard Beach for a hate crime, filmmaker/writer Kym Ragusa, historian Jennifer Guglielmo, and I organized an event entitled “Creative Responses to Race, Violence and Community: A Call for Peace” at New York University’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò. The evening of readings and performances by scholars and artists musicians, and the subsequent audience dialogue, sought to find creative and collaborative ways to combat racism.
Yes, Italian Americans can be the new anti-racist front, on this day we honor Martin Luther King, Jr.'s vision and courage, and as we ride the sweeping tide of history that is the Obama presidency.