by Diane Rufino, August 21, 2021
Many years ago, when my children were in elementary and intermediate schools, I saw something that troubled me so much that it has continued to stick in my mind. I went to Wintergreen Elementary School to have lunch with my son (he was a shy one) and when I walked in and signed in, I had to wait at the office area while the first grade classes made their way, single-file, down the hall to the cafeteria. The teachers led the way and chaperoned their classes as they walked to lunch. There was one little girl, a black girl, poorly-dressed, clearly not getting enough attention at home (or maybe simply from a very poor family), walking with her head down. She looked like she was abused and used to being abused. And sure enough, her teacher, her white teacher, was standing next to her, in a bullying type manner. The teacher’s body language, as well as the young girl’s, told me that that the teacher was being unprofessionally harsh to her. She was scolding the poor child for some reason or another and told to “walk faster.” In short, she was being treated as if she was nothing more than a nuisance, of less worth than the other students.
My heart broke. I felt so sorry for the little girl. Was this a case of discrimination? Was I witnessing my first instance of racial discrimination? I couldn’t be sure. All I know is that a teacher should never treat a down-trodden child, no matter what his or her color, as a human being of lesser value.
I waited by the office area for my son’s class to make their way to the cafeteria so I could walk with him. When we finally got into the cafeteria, I looked for that little black girl to make sure she had a decent lunch. I spotted her, with her head still down, at her table and it looked like she had a suitable lunch.
The sight of that poor humiliated little girl has forever stuck in my mind.
The second instance of racial discrimination occurred this year and very close to home. About three-four months ago, a neighbor three doors away saw a black man walking in our development and for no other reason than that, she called the police. She told the police that he didn’t belong and “looked suspicious.” First of all, he did not “look suspicious.” He was not breaking any laws. He was simply trying to talk to homeowners about the “Good Word.” My neighbor acted out with what I can only conclude was racial animus. The police came and “talked to” the young man. No doubt, he felt humiliated, And if he hadn’t felt the sting of racial discrimination before, he certainly felt it that day for sure. I felt so bad for the young man, as any decent human being would. Luckily, the residents of our all-white development race-shamed her. As the scenario played itself out, she and her husband sold their house and moved away about two months ago. Good riddance.
This brings me to the topic of this article….. Discrimination. And not just racial discrimination…..
As we all know, discrimination is the unfair or prejudicial treatment of people and groups based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity (nationality), gender, age or sexual orientation. In other words, it is based on unfair and invidious stereotypes. Nelson Mandela once said this of race-based discrimination: “Racism is a blight on the human conscience. The idea that any people can be inferior to another, to the point where those who consider themselves superior define and treat the rest as subhuman, denies the humanity even of those who elevate themselves to the status of gods.”
Discrimination strikes at the very heart of being human. It gives a view of one’s heart. A person either has a Christian heart (a good heart) or a black heart. Anyone who thinks another person is of less worthy as a human being because of race, ethnicity, gender, age, or sexual orientation is harboring a sickness in their heart and in their mind. Discrimination harms someone’s rights simply because of who they are, what characteristics they were born with (inherent traits, unchangeable) or what they believe. Discrimination is harmful and confers a sense of inferiority on another. It is also extremely humiliating.
We all have the right to be treated equally, regardless of our race, ethnicity, nationality, class, caste, religion, belief, sex, gender, language, sexual orientation, age, health, or other status. Yet all too often we hear heartbreaking stories of people who suffer economically, psychologically and legally for no other reason than they think or act or believe “differently” from those who are in a position of power over them. We also hear heartbreaking stories of persons who discriminate against others in their ordinary course of living. I call it “random acts of hatred.”
Acts of discrimination may not bother others, but it bothers me greatly. So far in my life, thankfully, I’ve only witnessed, first-hand, two acts of racial discrimination. Additionally, I’ve witnessed “different treatment” of fellow Italians back in my home state of New Jersey. Background checks, for example, included a deep dive into connections to mobsters or mob families.
I’d like to make clear that there is no copyright on discrimination and oppression. Almost every ethnic group, (religious group, immigrant group, sexual preference group, etc) has experienced discrimination at some point in our nation’s history… some more than others. The black race specifically has suffered the greatest amount of discrimination – for almost 200 years, from the years of slavery and then the segregation laws (Jim Crow era), through to the Civil Rights era of the 1960’s. And almost every group has their bad element, which unfortunately tends to give a bad name to the whole group. It’s the basis of profiling and subconsciously, it forms the basis of a lot of our judgements and decision-making. I’m Italian. We have the mafia, crime syndicates, extortion schemes, hitmen. I can’t help that. I have no such characters in my family or in my circle of friends. But yet the first question that people will ask when they hear my name (Rufino) is this: “Do you have any mobsters in your family?” Or “Have you ever met a mobster?” Was there a mob presence in the town I grew up in (northern New Jersey)? Yes there was. A friend of mine, Debbie, who lived a few blocks away had to live with the sight of seeing her father dead in their garage. He was gunned down, mob style (kneeling down and shot in the back of the head). And my sister’s friend, Johnna, had her family swimming pool dug up to look for Jimmy Hoffa’s body. I understood the stereotype of my people. I lived with it.
Other ethnic groups have done the same.
For example, the Irish were treated for many years as undesirables. They came to America in large numbers between the years 1820 and 1930. It’s estimated that as many as 4.5 million Irish arrived in America between those years. Between 1820 and 1860 alone, the Irish constituted over one third of all immigrants to this country. In the 1840s, they comprised nearly half of all immigrants. The Irish were called “Micks,” which was a disparaging term. The name stuck because many of their last names had ‘Mc’ or ‘Mac’ in it, which roughly translates as “son of/daughter of.” In the mid-19th century, Irish immigrants were discriminated against in employment and in other areas as well. They were met with signs and ads that read: “No Irish need apply” or some other message to that effect.
When the Italians followed suit and came to America, they were treated just as bad, if not worse. Italians immigrated to America in two waves – the first wave starting in the 1880s, and the second wave in the early 1900’s (when Italy suffered its great depression). Italian migration grew steadily up until 1921 when Congress passed a law (The Immigration Act of 1921) to restrict immigration (severe restrictions included those on Italians and other ethnicities). About 80% of Italian immigrants were from the impoverished south of Italy or from Sicily. Only about 50% were literate and most were men. For the most part, these were men came to this country looking for work, hoping to make enough money to go home and buy their own farm.
Italians were called such derogatory names as “guineas,” “dagos,” or “whops.” They were called “guineas” to insinuate that their tan skin meant they were related to Africans.
They too were met with signs and ads that read: “No Italians need apply” or some other variation of that theme. They faced other types of discrimination – in housing and in the criminal justice system. They were often victims of police brutality.
Violence was perpetrated on them in other ways as well, for no other reason than they were of the Italian race. On March 14, 1891 one of the worst mass lynchings in US history occurred, in downtown New Orleans. Eleven men were hung or shot to death by a mob seeking ‘justice’ for a murdered policeman. The victims were all Italians. And that wasn’t an isolated case. All five Italians living in Tallulah, Louisiana, were lynched in 1899 after a disagreement over a goat. In all, there were about 50 lynchings of Italians in the period from 1890 to 1920.
In a 2015 article by Chris Woolf (“A Brief History of America’s Hostility to a Previous Generation of Mediterranean Migrants — Italians,”), he highlighted an editorial in The New York Times, which included this description of Italians: “These sneaking and cowardly Sicilians, the descendants of bandits and assassins, who have transported to this country the lawless passions, the cut-throat practices, and the oath-bound societies of their native country, are to us a pest without mitigation. Our own rattlesnakes are as good citizens as they… Lynch law was the only course open to the people of New Orleans to stay the issue of a new license to the Mafia to continue its bloody practices.”
Italian immigrants have been portrayed in other media outlets as ignorant, lazy, greasy, prone to crime, ignorant of the law, ignorant of democracy, and prone to addressing wrongs with personal vendettas and acts of violence. There is one scene in The Untouchables (with Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, and Andy Garcia as the Italian character) where Sean Connery’s character, Malone, says to Andy Garcia’s character, Stone: “You’re a lying member of a no-good race.”
My best friend growing up in East Rutherford, NJ, was a girl named Donna Lynch. She lived about 3 blocks away from me. She was full Irish. Her father and my father, a second-generation Italian, got on famously. Whenever Mr. Lynch saw my father, he would say call him: “You gineau.” And my father would greet him with “You dirty mick.” It always a light-hearted tribute to the stereotypes of both nationality groups and Donna and I would laugh.
While it may have taken a long time for Italians to assimilate into American culture, they have more than proven their love and appreciation for this country. They served heroically in America’s wars – World War I and World War II. In fact, in WWI, “Italians made up an estimated 12 percent of the men who joined the US military — despite being a much smaller proportion of the population.” Italians showed their patriotism and devotion to service during the attacks of 9/11. A good proportion of the firefighters and rescue workers who rushed into the burning and crumbling NYC Twin Towers were Italian.
As Mr. Woolf concluded in his article: “Today it’s hard to imagine America without the Knights of Columbus, the Sons of Italy, and of course, pizza.”
Jews have been discriminated again, individuals from the Middle East have been discriminated against (even before 9/11, refer to the Immigration Act of 1921), Poles have been discriminated against, Catholics have been discriminated against, and so on and so on.
Perhaps no one group was treated worse than the Chinese. From 1863 and 1869, between 15,000-20,000 were “hired” to help build the transcontinental railroad. They were paid less than American workers and lived in tents, while white workers were given accommodation in train cars. When they dropped due to exhaustion and died, no one cared. They were expendable. As if that wasn’t bad enough, The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 made it illegal for Chinese workers to come to the United States and for Chinese nationals already in the country to ever become US citizens. It was the first time that an ethnic group was singled out by name as being undesirable. Historians report that there was “horrific violence” against them. The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first in a long time of acts targeting the Chinese for exclusion in the US population. (The law remained in place for more than 60 years).
And then there are the African-Americans… the people who suffered the most. Ironically, they were valued much more than the Chinese (and perhaps other races as well) because they were chattel (= property, slaves), capable of an economic benefit for their owner. They were workers, servants, cooks, nannies, etc. But while the stigma of belonging to another human being, of being a slave, of being treated as if the only worth that the person with black skin has is in service to another was not unconscionable enough, the US Supreme Court handed down a most egregious judgement. Chief Justice Roger Taney, in the infamous Dred Scott case (1856), ruled that “a negro, whose ancestors were imported into the US, and sold as slaves,” whether enslaved or ultimately freed, were not citizens of the United States. According to his majority opinion, African-Americans were “beings of an inferior order. so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”
Taney asked the question: “Can a negro, whose ancestors were imported into this country, and sold as slaves, become a member of the political community formed and brought into existence by the Constitution of the United States, and as such become entitled to all the rights, and privileges, and immunities, guaranteed by that instrument to the citizen? One of which rights is the privilege of suing in a court of the United States in the cases specified in the Constitution.” He concluded that negroes were never intended to be and could not be citizens of the United States. As Taney explained: “The words ‘people of the United States’ and ‘citizens’ are synonymous terms and mean the same thing. They both describe the political body who, according to our republican institutions, form the sovereignty, and who hold the power and conduct the Government through their representatives. They are what we familiarly call the ‘sovereign people,’ and every citizen is one of this people, and a constituent member of this sovereignty. The question before us is, whether the class of persons described in the plea in abatement compose a portion of this people, and are constituent members of this sovereignty? We think they are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word ‘citizens’ in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States. On the contrary, they were at that time considered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the Government might choose to grant them.”
The question of citizenship having been decided, Taney concluded that the Court lacked jurisdiction and dismissed the case on procedural grounds. Taney further held that the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was unconstitutional and foreclose Congress from freeing slaves within Federal territories. The opinion showed deference to the Missouri courts, which held that moving to a free state did not render Scott emancipated. Finally, Taney ruled that slaves were property under the Fifth Amendment, and that any law that would deprive a slave owner of that property was unconstitutional. In other words, the Supreme Court upheld slavery and further held that persons of African descent could never be American citizens.
Luckily and thankfully, the stinging ruling of Justice Taney was rendered null and void by the 13th Amendment, which was passed 12 years later on December 6, 1865. The Fourteenth Amendment, an amendment codifying the Civil Rights Act of 1865, was ratified in 1868.
What followed then was a further insult to African-Americans, which was the era of the Jim Crow laws in the South, which lasted until the 1950’s. Parts of the South also refused to enforce the ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education ruling (1954) which prohibited de jure (“by law”) segregation in public schools. Martin Luther King Jr. described those years this way: “Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them.”
They say discrimination against African-Americans (referred to as “negroes” and “blacks”) is predominant in the South; they call it “racism.” There is a long history of relations between whites and blacks in the southern states (the Northern states were simply “anti-black”). During the years of slavery, despite the talking points from the left, groups like BLM, proponents of Critical Race Theory (and Race Theory in general), and the rhetoric from poverty pimps such as Reverend Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Rep. Maxine Waters, and other such race-baiters, for the most part, there was a good relationship between slaves, and blacks in general, and whites. In many cases, slaves were treated as members of the family. Their children played and grew up together. They got good physician and dental care. When slavery was abolished, many former slave owners gave their former slaves a plot of land, some farm animals, etc. During the War of Northern Aggression, Lincoln hoped for slave insurrection (violence against the wives and children of their slave owners, therefore causing Confederate soldiers to desert the southern army and rush back home to their families to protect them. (Nothing of the sort happened; instead, the slaves remained loyal and even felt a sense of duty to protect the families). But then something changed after the War. It was called The Republican Party and the Reconstruction Acts (acts of punishment; retribution).
The way I see how the relationship between blacks and whites deteriorated has everything to do with Abraham Lincoln’s decision to use slaves as a pawn in his game of “waging war to subjugate the South back into the Union.” When the government sought to prohibit slavery after the War, with the 13th Amendment, it did so under the political agenda of the Republican Party. (there is a whole history, not a good one, surrounding the Republican Party and its ambitions). After the War, there were two dominant parties – the Republican Party (dominant party in presidential elections) and the Democrats (the Southern Democrats being a more radical version). Of course, all the freed slaves associated with the Republican Party, the party of their liberation. And every Southern Democrat could count on that. Then, in order to punish the former Confederate states for not adopting the Fourteenth Amendment when it was first sent to them for ratification, Congress (without southern representation) passed the unconstitutional Reconstruction Acts, which organized the southern states into military districts, run by former Northern generals, and placed certain conditions on them in order to be re-admitted to the Union. Those conditions included ratifying the Fourteenth Amendment, altering their state constitutions to prohibit secession, and prohibiting all those who supported the Confederacy to vote or serve in government, including local government. Who were allowed to vote? Republicans. (ie, freed slaves). Republicans were responsible for the War; they were responsible for denying the South their independence. They were responsible for destroying their lifestyle, their farms, their cities and towns, their fortunes, their economy, their infrastructure, their means of income, and killing so many of their young men. So, in a matter of just a few years, the North managed to make enemies (political enemies) of the southern whites and the freed blacks. Blacks were all of a sudden seen as siding with “the enemy.” A relationship that was once friendly turned antagonistic. And that is why I believe the Jim Crow laws were enacted. The Southern Democrats were not going to sit back and accept the enormous social change that the North imposed on the South. Right or wrong, the South just wasn’t ready for a fully integrated society.
I understand why many blacks are bitter. Racial injustice was the black man’s burden and America’s shame. But I have such great respect for them for enduring so many years of hardship and discrimination and patiently (until the 1960’s) waiting for the law to catch up with their reconstruction amendments. Martin Luther King Jr. helped organize the black community to push for meaningful change, but he urged them to do it peacefully. He said: “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.” He also said: “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”
Wise words indeed.
Martin Luther King’s leadership, his call for peaceful protests, and his march on Washington DC (on August 28, 1963) at which he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech helped sway the LBJ administration to pass the great package of civil rights legislation – the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It was certainly about time. I only wish it wasn’t necessary to have to pass laws to protect citizens from discrimination, especially when our founding document, the Declaration of Independence proudly and audaciously proclaims that in America “all men are created equal.”
I can’t speak to the discrimination of other races or ethnic groups, and I wouldn’t dare to do so. It’s not my place. I can only speak to the discrimination of my own race, the Italian race.
African-Americans have something in common – their skin is black. Mexicans and South Americans have something in common – their skin is brown. Indians (from India) have a distinctive skin color as well, as do the Chinese and Japanese.
We Americans whose skin just happens to be something other than black, brown, or “yellow” are lumped into the large group known as “whites.” That doesn’t really seem to be fair; it doesn’t really do us justice.
Yes, our skin is considered “white,” but I know full well that each “white person” has a distinct nationality (mother country), a distinct heritage (a history of their “people”), and distinct beliefs, customs, and values. For example, the history of my people is tied up with the Roman Empire, with the tales of the Caesars, with the pride all its ruins stir in us, with its government system and values and its family values, and its sense of loyalty to country. It also has its customs regarding religion, food, genuineness, and good-heartedness. Other nationality groups have their own history, unique customs, and values.
When Italians first came over to America, their skin was a bit darker – an olive color as it has been described. My family came over from Naples and northern Italy during the years 1900 – 1920 and settled in Jersey City, NJ. Italian immigrants tried to remain a closely-knit community (because culture was important to them) but by the 1950’s-1960’s, it was getting hard to do so. Other minorities moved in and changed their peaceful, family-orientated, clean existence. My family had to move away from both my mother’s sister and her large family and her brother and his larger family, and being apart from cousins and aunts and uncles has certainly been a regrettable part of my life.
I often get offended when Italians are lumped together with the British, Germans, Irish, French, Russians, Greeks, Polish, Swedish, etc. under the term “whites.” Again, we are not all the same and we certainly don’t share the same heritage, customs, or values. We celebrate Black History Month, but I never understood why, in our schools, we didn’t afford other ethnic groups the same benefit. How wonderful it would be for all school children to learn about the history and culture, in detail, of all the different races and ethnic groups. I would never consider myself an “Italian-American.” I’m simply an American. The United States is my home, not Italy. I’m sure other ethnic groups feel the same way. But we sure would feel respected if our mother country and culture could be shared with others. Diversity today focuses so heavily on such a concept, but only for certain races and ethnic groups, such as African-Americans and Mexicans.
I think it’s important to understand the histories and cultures of the various groups that make up this amalgam known as “whites.” I think it’s also important to look at how these different groups value their own unique heritage and how they have dealt with past discrimination. And I think it’s also important to look at how each of these groups have assimilated into this country.
I read some commentary and letters written by members of various ethnic groups about past discrimination and they are telling. For example, Ms. Laura Compagni-Sabella, an Italian, wrote:
To the Editor (The New York Times):
I think that Brent Staples exaggerates the extent to which Americans viewed Italians through the lens of “racism.” There was plenty of skepticism and fear as millions of impoverished people — Italian and otherwise — poured into American cities. With them came crowding, crime, filth, disease, nondemocratic political ideas and social chaos. Urban places had not developed the physical and institutional infrastructure to accommodate this influx of needy people.
Yes, there were unfortunate events like the lynching in New Orleans (of 11 Italians) and plenty of condescension toward swarthy “dagos.” However, overall, American communities absorbed Italians, educated their children, provided jobs and supported their entrepreneurial efforts as small-business owners. The vast majority of Italian-Americans viewed these opportunities with gratitude, worked extremely hard and took meticulous care of their homes and families.
The results of their resilience are obvious today. As a descendant of these extraordinary people, I don’t buy your victim narrative. Italian-Americans were beneficiaries of America’s democratic capitalist system and pluralistic culture, not victims of it.
Laura Compagni-Sabella, Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y..
In a letter to the same newspaper, Mr. Gene Boccialetti, also Italian (obviously) wrote:
To the Editor:
What a short memory Americans have of their own immigrant experience. With very few exceptions, every family came here from somewhere else and went through, to one degree or another, some challenges, bumps and bruises on their way to becoming American. But it’s a bit like Snapchat, where their collective memories dissolve.
Without a trace of self-awareness, they just point at newcomers and shout: “We must raise the drawbridge! Keep them out! They are too different!” More than likely, someone (or many someones) was saying the same thing about them or their forebears when they came here.
America is — and always has been — a powerful, even irresistible idea that draws people to it. Understanding the meaning of America fully — and adjusting to it — takes some time. Freedoms are easier to grasp than responsibilities. Opportunities are more exciting and grab attention faster than do barriers and challenges. But, with some time and work, almost everyone “becomes” American and feels rewarded for the investment.
Gene Boccialetti, New York
Mr. Paul Leo appears to have some lingering trauma:
To the Editor:
Even as a third-generation half-Italian-American, I still feel a surge of nausea whenever faced with choosing an “ethnicity” on official forms or job applications. The only choice allowed for my mixed European heritage is “white,” but checking it feels like a betrayal of my ancestors and a forced whitewashing of this country’s true micro-diversity.
I resent, every time, that my identity will be assumed into a featureless, monolithic bloc of whiteness and ascribed to an established majority I neither identify with nor aspire to. And leaving the box unchecked in protest feels even worse, like choosing voluntary self-erasure over involuntary state erasure.
Paul Leo, New York
Mr. John Twomey, an Irishman from our very state of North Carolina, expressed his views:
To the Editor:
Both of my paternal grandparents were born in Ireland and emigrated to the United States around 1900. I remember their describing “Irish Need Not Apply” signs and being discriminated against in many ways. Their story is quite similar to what you have described for Italians.
As a country we have a very checkered history of our treatment of anyone not of British ancestry. Asians, Africans, South Americans, Southern Europeans, Eastern Europeans, Irish, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Hindi — all were treated as inferiors at one time (most still are).
Only when the accents disappeared and it became impossible to tell that someone was Italian or Irish were we “accepted” as white. Unfortunately, many still fall under the label of “them” — inferior and to be feared.
President Trump has done a very effective job of bringing out into the open how deep and alive racism still is in America. For a “Christian” nation we fall quite short of the values that Christianity stands for; we have a lot of repair and repentance to do, a lot of forgiveness to be earned.
John Twomey, Raleigh, NC
And finally, Mr. Greenway helped bolster the original article on “The Bigotry Towards Italian Immigrants” by providing additional facts:
To the Editor:
Your article cites Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, but he was not alone in the prejudice against Italians from the south of Italy in the late 19th and early 20th century. His hated rival, Woodrow Wilson, wrote in his 1902 “History of the American People”: “Throughout the [19th] century men of the sturdy stock of the north of Europe had made up the main strain of foreign blood … but now there came the multitudes of men of the lowest classes from the south of Italy and men of the meaner sort out of Hungary and Poland, men out of the ranks where there was neither skill nor energy nor any initiative of quick intelligence … as if the countries of the south of Europe were disburdening themselves of the more sordid and hapless elements of their population.”
H.D.S. Greenway, Needham, Mass.
Again, in summation, there is no copyright on discrimination and oppression. What is important is how each group has overcome it. What is important is how each group has worked to assimilate and “fit in.” What is ultimately important is that each person, regardless of gender, skin color, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation is protected by the Constitution and by the laws of our country. What is important is that everyone understands that “All Men are Created Equal.”
I call on everyone, regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, gender to put issues of discrimination and racism aside and hold onto what is most important, the gems of American liberty and American equality. There are the great values that unify us. Unity must be the goal. Together we are stronger; together we are better.
Mark Bulik, “1854: No Irish Need Apply,” The New York Times, September 8, 2015. Referenced at: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/08/insider/1854-no-irish-need-apply.html
“The Bigotrry Towards Italian Immigrants,” The New York Times (Opinion Letters), October 19, 2019. Referenced at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/19/opinion/letters/bigotry-italian-immigrants.html [Readers discuss an article about how darker-skinned southern Italians faced racism a century ago and had to struggle for acceptance.]
Chris Woolf, “A Brief History of America’s Hostility to a Previous Generation of Mediterranean Migrants — Italians,” The World, November 26, 2015. Referenced at: https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-11-26/brief-history-america-s-hostility-previous-generation-mediterranean-migrants
Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1856). Referenced at: https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/60/393
Scott W. Bixler, “The Right to Discriminate,” Foundation for Economic Education, June 1, 1980. Referenced at: https://fee.org/articles/the-right-to-discriminate/
I. The Immigration Act of 1921
The Immigration Act of 1921 was the first federal law in U.S. history to limit the immigration of Europeans, the Immigration Act of 1921 reflected the growing American fear that people from southern and eastern European countries not only did not adapt well into American society but also threatened its very existence. The law specified that no more than 3 percent of the total number of immigrants from any specific country already living in the United States in 1910 could migrate to America during any year.
II. The Immigration Act of 1924
The Immigration Act of 1924 limited the number of immigrants allowed entry into the United States through a national origins quota. The quota provided immigration visas to two percent of the total number of people of each nationality in the United States as of the 1890 national census. It completely excluded immigrants from Asia.