When Italians were “Blacks”: The dark-skinned Sicilians

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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.

Courtesy Lipstickvalley

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331 thoughts on “When Italians were “Blacks”: The dark-skinned Sicilians”

  1. It’s so funny how I keep hearing and reading about dark- skinned Sicilians and how “most Sicilians are dark but I’m yet to see these people. I’m a third generation American of 100% Sicilian ancestry who grew up among many people of similar background with mostly olive to medium/fair complexion. My family being among the fairer type who burn in the summer if we don’t use sunblock.
    As a student of history, I am well aware about the racial categorizations of 19th and early 20th century America including the lynchings of Sicilian immigrants in New Orleans. I also know that most European immigrants during that time were not considered ‘white’ in this country including the Irish, yes, the ethnic group that today’s seems to be one of the greatest examples of what a true white looks like. There definitely was great bias towards southern Italians especially in the southern states however there is no actual documentation that These people were put in the same category as African Americans. This is truly an insult to all the Black Americans who were enslaved for over three hundred years and persecuted during the decades following reconstruction. The only time Italians really came into contact with African Americans was when they competed for labor jobs which Italians almost always would have the social advantage. By the way there are plenty of Sicilians and Sicilian Americans who are lighter-skinned than Anglo Saxons and many Anglo-Saxons, especially in the South and West have Native American DNA.

    1. There are census reports that have most of them listed as black or mulatto. The Greeks, Spaniards, Italiams came from black ancestors. Instead of constantly dying this just take a freaking DNA test but I’m guessing you all won’t because you already know its true. Your high level of melanin/dark skin, sickle cell traits, curly hair shows your African ancestry. Ancient Rome and Greeks were black societies. I’m so glad DNA testing is starting to tell the true history of the world. Having blonde hair and light eyes doesn’t mean you don’t have Sub Saharan DNA. It just means it wasn’t expressed in your hair, eyes, skin but its still there. I find this information that Southern Europeans are10% black because they are the most racist people in all of Europe. I guess they’re like Hitler who had Jewush and African DNA as well. Self hater is such a sad, ugly thing and makes you realize just how twisted this world really is.

      1. A knowledgeable person would understand that “White” are a pychologically advanced people. Being physically white with blond or red and blue yes does not place you in the category of “White”. “White” people know who dosen’t belong to them even if you come to them with blond hair & blue yes.

        Semetic people from Isaac, are a people with various appearences with colorful hair and eyes and skin, yet not “White”. In Afghanistan and Pakistan are people with colorful appearences who are thought to be the ten lost tribes of Israel. Isaac’s twin sons were Jacab and Esau. Esau is the father on the Roman who today called Italians. So, Italians do have a Semetic looks like their Israelite brother. They both have various colorful appearences. But the “White” people know us as non-Whites not because of appearence but manners and psychology.

      2. Hahahaha genetics disproof any recent genetic connection with Sub Saharan Africa. I’ve done genetic testing and have spend some time studying my autosomal results and those of others and there’s no connection with any SSA on this whole planet – you wish! The last significant IBD sharing from peoples outside of Italy was around 400 BC.

        From which source(s) do you have this misinformation about Italians from ?

        There’s a lot of genetic diversity among Italians with Northern Italians, Central Italians and Southern Italians/Sicilians being more ‘different’ from each other than e.g. a Brit and a Dane or an Irishman and German – however Italians as a whole form a cluster of their own and the Alps actually acted as a barrier against free gene flow outside of the Italian peninsula. The greatest immigration ever in Italy was during the Neolithic and after that there were some invaders from the North that have intermixed to some degree with the locals – but still far northerners are considered ”Southern European” on a genetic level compared to other Southern Europeans.

        The Greco Roman age interconnected the Near East with the Italian Peninsula and there were a lot of Syrians and Greeks in Rome for example, but if this has caused Italians to be closer to Near Eastern populations than Greek mainlanders or other Southern Europeans like Iberians for example is a mystery for me; I think inbreeding has caused a lot of components to maintain within the population.

        Sicily has some Norman influence (not very significant though and limited to the region of Palermo) and some Phoenician which could be one of the reasons their ‘West Asian’ is a bit higher than other mainland Southern Italians.

        The rate of IBD sharing within the Italian Peninsula is also very low compared to other Europeans except maybe Finns.



      3. That’s an interesting theory you have! I’m half Italian, my DNA did not show anythibg from sub Sahara Africa. 95% indo European, 100% Caucasian.

        1. Italy is part of Europe. Northern African people-Arabic are classified as Caucasian. Caucasian DOES not mean White. Italians, Greeks, Spanish are all classified as Caucasians,
          Even the people who occupy (Native Aboriginal) people ARE Caucasians. There are only 3 RAce classifications: Caucasian/Negroid/Asian. We are frequently mixed because people constantly moved in search of food, safety, etc., therefore, we get mixed up. I once met a Dr. who was very white, blond/ blue eyed. He informed me that he had a DNA test done and it showed he was a descendant of the Great Genius Khan. SURPRISE!

          1. I personally feel that everybody in the World has myths of their origins. It really shows that we are not at all what we think we are. What we think we are is just a fable taught to us by
            our parents and society as a whole. Race and ethnicity is not easily determinable, given the fact that there has been so much migration and mixing. For example, I am Indian, but everybody thinks I am Egyptian and my father looks like Genghis Khan. I don’t hate anybody. I love everybody. I have no hang ups about race, but unfortunately most people do. And the people who have the hang up have it because either they have insecurities about themselves or they use it to put people down. I have experienced racism from just about everybody, and I have learned one thing that most of the people who were racist towards me were racist towards me as a way of boosting their own ego.

      4. Sara…are you kidding?
        have you ever been in Spain, Greece or Italy?
        I am from Spain….among all my friends not a single one is dark skinned, being almost all of them of fair complexion, blonde hair and pink skin;….
        “black ancestors”?? it would be nice for me because I respect and love black people but it is false;
        well. ok, since all the human population seem to come from Africa 1 million years ago, it is not totally false….
        Have you ever seen pictures of classic italian artists, for exemple the Monna Lisa of Leonardo Da Vinci and italian madonnas?
        have you ever seen pieces of art from ancient Greece?
        there you will find the italian/greek type of people.
        It seems that you know nothing about spanish or italian population….that you even don´t watch tv.
        Look at the italian football/basket team. How many dark skinned people find you there?
        Look at the politicians, look any youtube interview to italian people….even look at photos of famous italians in US….how many dark skinned you see?
        If you knew the minimum about italian-spanish population you would know that spanish people it is also called “celtiberos”, that is “celtic-iberic”, beacuse the celtic origin; and in italy you would know about the germanic peoples which mixed with local ones,….
        Of my 3 sicilian fiends one is black haired with pink skin, he can´t even expose it on sun, other one is blonde, and the third is brown hair, with green eyes,…
        Here you have one of the latest genomic researches about genetic origin of spanish population:
        “”We have been surprised that the genome of the man comes from the Russian steppe and that of the woman is of Iberian origin”, explains Carles Lalueza-Fox, paleogeneticist of the Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (CSIC-UPF). In an investigation presented today in the journal Science, a hundred scientists coordinated by Lalueza-Fox have reconstructed the history of the population of the Iberian peninsula in the last 8,000 years through the analysis of genomes.”
        Please, don`t say so many stupid things, do a bit of research in google first….again, watch italian tv…you have so many ways to see how italian or spanish people are that it is inconceivable that you are that you are immersed in such a hole of ignorance

    2. There is documentation. Also, Italians were not hired in many jobs and paid less than ‘whites’ and ‘blacks’ on construction jobs. My family is very dark Sicilian and I was surprised to see ‘lighter’ Sicilians when I grew up.
      Whiteness denotes privilege in America. People from the Mediterranean are generally going to be darker than people in the north of Europe. The entire globe works that way with skin color and climate going hand in hand.

      1. There are a great deal of legal cases in Americas Judicial system . That show this “white Privlge “ it stains America. Susan Smith ALMOST got away with it.

      2. Exactly Ryan. I am from India, if you to Northern a India like Kashmir you will people who are very light and if you all the way south in India like Madras, now Chennai you will see people who are very dark.

    3. I’m sure that has a lot to do with our melanin adapting to our surroundings. I’m have Sicilian, and grew up in Florida, movies far north 15 years ago, and my skin has changed immensely. I never had to use sunblock until living where it snows

  2. I lived in Milan for twenty years, many of the people have very dark curly hair,and sometime curly kinky hair. Many of the woman have butts like bk woman. They also have brown complexions sometime and medium thick lips. These characteristics are not white Caucasian traits. Theyhave dark breast areolas, and brown Mongoloid spot on gluts.

  3. There is so much misinformation here that I don’t even know where to begin.

    Let’s clarify one thing right off the bat: Southern Italians and Sicilians are genetically very similar from region to region, with some minor differences.. but NONE of them have any significant Sub-Saharan African or otherwise non-Caucasoid ancestry. For Sicilians it’s usually 1 percent at best, and this is lower than the amount you find in Spain and Portugal. Anyone on here claiming to have seen autosomal DNA results for Sicilians scoring any significant amount of Sub-Saharan (Black) African DNA… I’d like to see screenshots and proof, because this is scientifically unsubstantiated.

    On the other hand, West Asian genetic admixture is very high in southern Italy, particularly in Sicily and Calabria, and North European genetic influence is very low for European standards. There is limited Norman admixture in southern Italy, if any at all. You may find pockets in which it is higher or has been maintained, but one or two Norman ancestors assimilated into a large population of Sicilians would have very little autosomal impact and nearly undetectable today.

    In general, the admixture of Sicilians is very close to that of Ashkenazi Jews and Greeks from Crete and the Dodecanese. Very low Northern European, and high West Asian. There is also a high prevalence of genetics that are shared with other Southern Europeans and yes, a small North African component that is under 10% of total genes. Recent studies have demonstrated that Sicilians, Maltese, and Ashkenazi Jews do not plot with other Europeans perfectly due to their excess of Near Eastern DNA, which is not even present in Spain or Greece. It is also important to note that Greece has been heavily influenced by populations to their north and most of their recent admixture has indeed come from Albanians (who were likely genetically similar to Greeks to begin with) and Slavic poeples.

    Phenotypically, Sicilians and other southern Italians resemble one another (there are not great differences region to region), but there is some regional variation. People from Apulia, and from the inland regions of Sicily (Enna, Caltanissetta etc.) tend to be lighter and more robust, possibly due to more influence from further north such as Lombards. People from Calabria, and the coastal regions of Sicily are much darker and look more similar to Cypriots and some Near Eastern people. Every now and again you will find someone who looks strikingly Northern European (call it “Norman” if you will) or North African, but neither is a common look. On average, Sicilians and other southern Italians look like they should given their genetics and location.

    1. U know so much, it’s a beautiful gift. u make me want to get my back pack & travel into time. Unfortunately I’m strapped for international cash for traveling the globe.

  4. I was on this blog by a Sicilian woman who explained the African or Moorish heritage of some Italians. She posted these vases and pottery from Siciliy depicting dark skin black men juxtapose fair skin women and explained it as when the Moors ruled in Sicliy they often interbreeded and their history in the land is one that is very much celebrated. So many Sicilians know of their mixed heritage. Listen to them not Internet trolls that go to ever site saying the same thing…Moors were white….Egyptians were white…..to think not you’re Afrocentric….look at these outdated bias studies….you guys try to steal everyone’s culture. Those tactics are dried up. What is beautiful is connecting with Greeks, Portuguese, Latinos, and others who know and represent their culture. They surely out number the latter.

    Oh and the whole… Egyptians depicted themselves dark to represent the soil…yet the sky and water is still blue…..doesn’t stand up as any justification. We still depict ourselves brown. The Mayans apdepicted themselves brown with locs…..but if you listen to an Eurocentric they will say it’s stylized. Basically they are saying….ignore the obvious and believe the confusion and the lies….follow me I’ll lead you off a cliff. Trust me I will keep you lost. I had an art teacher that said the cornrolls on the statue kourus was stylized, they didn’t know how to depict their own hair……yeah okay. Woke, not asleep.

    1. Thank you ” Me” finally I can stop reading now, thought for a minute there I was not going to fine someone who made sense Smh.. Disinformation is a scary thing…

  5. I am Jewish and look 100% like a ‘Dark Sicilian.’ My Ancestors arrived in Missouri in the late 19th Century. White Supremacy was widespread in the Ozarks of Southern Missouri, and Jews were not allowed at local motels as late as the Mid 20th century. They were not ‘White’ enough.

  6. “The reason I say very few is because over 80% of Italian immigrants were from Southern Italy (Sicily, Abruzzo, Calabria, Campania, Sardinia, Naples, etc.)”

    Sardinia??? Sardinians migrated to US represent only the 0.04% of all italian americans, being the italian region with the lowest migration towards USA. None ethnic sardinian faced any kind of racism in the US.

  7. My grandfather is from Sicily and grandmother from Algeria.
    I have a bit dark skin, the problem is that I live in Poland and had some not so nice incounters.
    People mistake me for a gipsy or arab, morons cant understand that there are some european nations that are dark skinned.

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