Here are some interesting things:
Southern Italians were considered “black” in the South and were subjected to the Jim Crow laws of segregation. They weren’t allowed to marry “whites.” It was difficult, damn near impossible.
They were designated as “black” on census forms if they lived in the South and that is because the majority of them were dark-skinned Sicilians.
Mass lynchings happened to them often.
One of the biggest mass lynchings happened to Italians in New Orleans when they thought that a Italian immigrant had killed a “white” police officer.
The very few Northern Italians that immigrated here perpetuated the myth that Southern Italians and Greeks were of a different race than them in order to save their own asses. This wasn’t true, and there are actually dark-skinned Italians all over Italy, not just in the South, as well as light-skinned Italians all over Italy.
The reason I say very few is because over 80% of Italian immigrants were from Southern Italy (Sicily, Abruzzo, Calabria, Campania, Sardinia, Naples, etc.)
It was highly unlikely (damn near impossible) for a Southern Italian to own a slave because they were seen as the same as blacks, and at the time, they were the second (right behind blacks) most discriminated against group.
The mass immigration for Italians didn’t start until 1880 and even then, they were discriminated against. However, this mass immigration leads into Italian-Americans today:
Italian is the fourth largest ethnic group reported among white Americans.
The great majority of Italians are now middle class to upper middle class and wealthy. They also mostly work white collar jobs.
Their intermarriage rate is around 90%. It was at 80% in the 70’s. So most Italian-Americans also have a white parent of some other descent, especially if they were born after 1980. Exactly like my friend who has a Sicilian father (and he is very dark-skinned) and white Southerner for a mother. We spoke to my friend’s Sicilian grandfather, and he said that one of his brothers was dating a white girl from the South back in the day and that her family considered him “black.” They thought that was weird because by that time, they were living in New York.
They are now considered white
I thought it was interesting looking at back then and looking at them now. I knew they weren’t considered white back then, but I had no idea they actually wrote them down as black on census forms. That shocked me, and when I found that my friend’s ancestor was listed as black on that census form, I thought the ancestor was just a biracial who had a Sicilian father, and so did she. We were just as surprised to find that he was just a teenage Sicilian immigrant. My friend has tanned skin, dark hair, blue eyes, and freckles to boot. So you can see both ethnicities in her. My Greek professor is way darker than her, and he also has a white, WASPY mother.
Italians are still discriminated against. I remember hearing a group of white women referring to them as “Ghetto Whites”. Many whites who feel they have a “true bloodline” dont like them. Anglo Saxonism is a bitch. Pretty much anyone not from England, Gemany (not Jews), Netherlands and so on is not “truly white”. From my experience and when I look at history, this is how white supremacists feel. Spaniards are technically considered Euopean/”white”, but many dont accept them as that. Discrimination among the white race is very prevalent.
331 thoughts on “When Italians were “Blacks”: The dark-skinned Sicilians”
i guess we all came from one pair of ancestors, Adam and Eve, and the people that looked white through mutations and weather and climate -influence started naming themselves as the superior race and anyone else who was darker was seen as a lesser human being.
Discrimination will never end even among the white supremacist ideologies and i am sure if the caucasian white people of Europe, America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Russia etc took a DNA test, it would not show pure white ethnicities and now the coronavirus is being targeted towards colored people and people with health issues whether white or black and killing them like wildfire destroys the forest. This virus is the enemy and we should unite against it as one race/people/nation. Lets forget about our color, ethnicities and religious differences for awhile and save mankind from germ warfare.
I am of Sicilian ancestry, my grandparents immigrated in 1909 and 1919. I did know that a lot of Sicilians were considered Black, this was told to me by my grandfather when I was about 9 years old. I can home from school one day crying because a few kids in my class (1956) starting calling me a “sandblasted negro” that happened after I had to get up in front of the class and tell them what nationality I was. I did not understand why they were calling me this. nor what it meant. Never in my life did I think about the color of some ones skin everyone was the same to me.
My grandfather told me that back in Sicily a lot of people were considered Black because they had a darker complexion then some other people. Everyone in my family had different complexions, from dark to very light like me. I had always wished I had a darker complexion like some of my siblings and my grandpa, but he told me that I was very lucky that I looked white. At the time I did not understand why he would say that but as I got older I understood exactly what he had meant. So I asked him why did these kids make fun of me and call me that name when I said I was Sicilian, he said because I was light and most Sicilians have a darker skin then I did and he told me because they were being taught by there parents to be bigots (he had to explain to me what that meant). That night both of my parents and grandparents sat me and my four siblings down (had two brothers after this one darker the other lighter) and talked to us about bigotry. At school they continued to call me a Sandblasted Negro and other kids started doing the same thing until the Teachers stepped in, but in turn I would look at them and say I was very proud of where I came from and they all should be to and then I would walk away, they eventually stopped because I quite reacting to them or they got tired of my response.
Then my grandmother told me that her mother at first was not allowed to marry her father because he was to dark and came from a different class of people and it wasn’t until the Two Sicily’s united and her father passed that she was allowed to marry him. That was when I also found out that her marriage was prearranged and that she never met my grandfather until two weeks before they married. He was 11 years older then her. I asked her why she married him without knowing him she said that was her fathers wish and she had to do what her father said. She went on to tell me of all the prejudices that they faced along with their children and it was then I started to understand why we could not speak Italian outside of our home. My parents and grandparents tried to keep us, what they called safe from witnessing all the racism while we were growing up because they did not want us to go through what they had to. It did work for awhile then we all had to face reality and just try and educate people that were ignorant sometime it worked other times it didn’t but to this day I have never gave up on trying.
It makes me so sad now in the year 2020 we are still facing prejudice and injustices but I do get upset when I here Black life Matters, to me All Life Matters and if we continue to say only Black life Matters what is that telling our children that one race is better than another when we are trying to stop racism in this country and for that matter all over the world. Children are innocent they are not prejudice they learn from their parents and from what they see, just maybe we can learn a thing or two from them. My motto is “Live life without prejudice live in a Colorblind World” if that message can be spread just maybe our world would be a better place and people would not judge by the color of your skin but by what is inside.
All white people are Edomites that originate from Mt, Seir , Petra Jordan! The original Greeks were Black! (Japheth) Around 750 BC Edomites conquered Macedonia, then Philip conquered the surrounding islands, and Alexander conquered the entire Black in color world! The original Italians were black also by the way of Etruscans! Hannibal a black man from Carthage , almost conquered the Italian Edomites during the Punic Wars. The racism comes in because Hannibal raped slotbof the Edomite women in Sicily. Question is, was Hannibal an Israelite? That’s all that matters!