Author: Matteo Tamburini, WPJC Board Member
Today's edition of the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica, one of the two newspapers with the widest circulation, has the following headline:
"Usa, Trump celebra Colombo: 'Un grande italiano'. E si scaglia contro gli estremisti che minano la sua eredità." [English Translation] "USA, Trump celebrates Columbus: 'A great Italian'. And he attacks the extremists who undermine his legacy."
I wrote them the following reply, in Italian (the English translation follows):
"Spett.le redazione di Repubblica,
Nel titolo del vostro articolo di oggi, non si capisce bene di chi sia la descrizione si 'estremisti' diretta a chi 'mina l'eredità di Cristoforo Colombo'.
A usare quel termine siete voi, o state citando Trump?
In quanto Italiano DOC (nato a Firenze, cresciuto a Pistoia), e anche in quanto cittadino statunitense che da un decennio insegna matematica in una università' di Nativi Americani, devo dire che continua a infastidirmi il vostro accanimento contro una rivalutazione del lascito storico del colonialismo europeo.
E' cosi' difficile vedere le cose da un altro punto di vista? O anche solo ammettere che possa esistere un altro punto di vista?
Visti i tempi che corrono, sarebbe opportuno celebrare altri eroi (che certo non mancano), e cercare di coltivare un po' più di umiltà nei confronti della nostra storia.
Un cordiale saluto,
iscritto all'AIRE del Comune di Pistoia
Residente a Bellingham, stato di Washington, Stati Uniti d'America
Dear editors of 'La Repubblica',
In the article you published today it isn't clear who is using the term 'extremists', directed at those who might 'undermine the legacy of Christopher Columbus'.
Are you using that word, or are you quoting Trump?
As an Italian (born in Florence, raised in Pistoia), and also as a US citizen who has spent the last decade working at a university run by Native Americans, I must say that I find your ongoing aversion to any re-evaluation of effects of European colonialism quite vexing.
Is it so difficult to see things from another point of view? Or even to admit that another point of view is possible?
Given the times we're living in, we might be better off celebrating different heroes (there is no shortage of those), and to trying to cultivate a greater degree of humbleness in regards to our own history.
- - - - - -
As part of my enforced isolation during the pandemic, I have been doing more research about the history of Italian Americans' path to becoming white. As part of my Capoeira practice, I turned what I learned (mostly from reading Dixie’s Italians: Sicilians, Race, and Citizenship in the Jim Crow Gulf South by Jessica Barbata Jackson, LSU Press, 2020) into a poem in Portuguese - included below with English translation. Happy Indigenous People's Day!
Speak Up Speak Out Radio Host jim justice Speaks with Damani Johnson, WPJC's 2020 Lifetime Peacemaker Award Honoree
Radio host jim justice speaks with Damani Johnson, the Whatcom Peace & Justice Center's 2020 Rosemary & Howard Harris Lifetime Peacemaker Award honoree. Damani is the WWU's College of Humanities & Social Studies Program Director for the Munro Institute for Civil Education & editor in chief of the African Journal of Governance & Development. In 1988, Damani was on the Advisory Committee for the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Presidential Campaign. He was also on the Steering Committee of the Washington State Rainbow Coalition from 1988-1992. He's been part of the Whatcom Human Rights Taskforce & offered week long educational sessions on Civil Rights in Washington over the past several summers. Listen in to find out more about all the work Damani has done to bring people of diverse backgrounds together to learn about others.
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