Countering Discrimination, Immigration in the United States
I decided to explore the immigration of the Italian American because that I am one half Italian. I remember when I was little, my grandmother telling me that she had come to the United States when she was four years of age. That would have been in 1904 when millions of other Italians immigrated. She said life was extremely hard and her parents worked for little money.
Five million Italians immigrated to the United States between 1880 and 1930 in which they were part of the era of the mass migration. This era consisted of temporary migrants who desired immediate employment. They worked for little money and lived in squalor conditions. They worked as unskilled laborers. Italian Americans worked as scabs filling in for strickers struggling for better wages and conditions. Because of this there was a strong backlash against the Italian Americans. This was so strong that Italian Americans were lynched more than any other group besides the Africian Americans.
The Italian men outnumbered the women before the 1920s. Italian women were caught in between the traditional family life or working to help support their family. This put them into a double jeopardy status. They needed to provide for their family but the men believed they should remain at home and cook, clean, and care for the family. In public, the Italian male was the authority figure but at home the female played the controlling role as wife and mother.
They faced extreme prejudice which carried and shaped the Italian American ethnicity for succeeding generations. They did not experience things like Redlining, Reverse discrimination, Environmental justice issues or Glass ceiling, glass wall, or glass escalator which was barriers based on attitude or originalizational bias which prevented individuals from advancing upward in their organization into management levels.(definition by Google)
One of the most harmful forms of prejudice the Italian American faced was the labeling of his or her group. They were called WOP, dago, and guinea. “WOP” stands for without papers which was directed at illegal Italians. “Dago” was referred to the Spaniard “Diego” because they were mistakenly taken for Spanish. “Guinea” was referenced to the people of a Costal area in Western Africia because of their dark skin.
Webster’s Unabridged New Twentieth Century dictionary defines “WOP” and “Dago” in terms of racial characteristics. The use of these terms were in public and acceptable.
Ethnic labels are intended to insult the person and his or her feelings. These labels lead to stereotyping of the Italian Americans. Stereotyping gave the Italian American a distorted ethnic picture. They were view to be different and inferior to the Anglo Saxon race. They were thought to be dirty and