I’m getting a little fed up with the comments that the Irish, the Germans, the Italians etc. ad nauseum had adapted to the majority culture in the US so why can’t _______ I don’t think you’ll have to think too hard to fill in the blank.
Well for starters many of those minorities are white or at least rather tan in complexion. Lose the accent, alter your name, move to the other side of the country and you can pretend to be just about anything you want to be. If anyone is curious enough to ask, that is. Even the Italians. For every immigrant’s son who looks like Antonin Scalia, there’s a blue eyed blond from the north of the country that was settled by the Germanic tribes. Change your name from Bellini to
and nobody will ask any questions.
As for the minorities from the orient, they faced some very extreme prejudice in the early years. And let’s face it. I didn’t take the time to run the numbers but there just aren’t that many Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Asian Americans in this country. I suspect that there are parts of the country where the good citizens can go for years and not see an Asian face outside of the TV or movies.
African Americans have been the quintessential other from the beginning. Were they persons or property? The constitution came down on the side of what? They were persons but only 3/5 of a person and only so they could be counted for census purposes. Called “black” even though most African Americans are varying shades of brown it conjures up all those images of darkness.
The dangers of night. Going over to the “dark side.” Thanks George we really needed that and Darth Vader in his midnight black get up to let us know he wasn’t one of the good guys. The psy cops in the
Babylon 5 universe with
their SS wannabe’s black uniforms. The black sheep of the family. The black
market. All the negative images conjured up by “black.”
You can change your name. You can get an education that lets you speak like a BBC presenter. You can get a good job and dress the part. Even buy a decent car. There are still areas where the real estate agents will try to steer you away from. You can still be arrested for buying belt considered too nice for somebody like you. You and that nice care can still be pulled over for “infractions” that probably wouldn’t be noticed in a European American driver.
You can be stopped and questioned for walking while black with your hands in your pockets. (true story. Apparently a store owner had called because an African American with his hands in his pockets had been passing back and forth in front of the store and he was afraid he was going to be robbed. No matter that the man who was actually stopped was nowhere near the store. He was walking the mile between the house of a friend and his place about a mile away)
You can still be called every vile name in the book because, unlike other hyphenated Americans, you can’t change the color of your skin. From the day you’re born until the day you die too many people will only look at skin color and no further. And from the comments I’ve been reading on too many stories too many people aren’t interested in doing things any different.