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. Greece was fostered by the Minoans, Black people. Rome began as a colony of Etruria, Black people. The Arabs didn’t arrive in Egypt until 639 A. D. Mesopotamia, Assyria, Babylon, the entire Middle East was originally Black people. Most of the modern depictions of Minoans, Etruscans, and Assyrians/Babylonians are falsely rendered to depict a European look.

  2. What explains the development of the various racial characteristics?
    “All men living today belong to a single species, Homo sapiens, and are derived from a common stock. . . . Biological differences between human beings are due to differences in hereditary constitution and to the influence of the environment on this genetic potential. In most cases, those differences are due to the interaction of these two sets of factors. . . . Differences between individuals within a race or within a population are often greater than the average differences between races or populations.”—An international body of scientists convened by UNESCO, quoted in Statement on Race (New York, 1972, third ed.), Ashley Montagu, pp. 149, 150.
    “A race is simply one of the partially isolated gene pools into which the human species came to be divided during and following its early geographical spread. Roughly one race has developed on each of the five major continental areas of the earth. . . . Man did indeed diverge genetically during this phase of history and we can measure and study the results of this divergence in what remains today of the old geographical races. As we would expect, divergence appears to be correlated with the degree of isolation. . . . When race formation took place on the continents, with the bottlenecking of thousands of populations in isolated gene pools all over the world, the gene-frequency differences we now see were established. . . . The paradox which faces us is that each group of humans appears to be externally different yet underneath these differences there is fundamental similarity.” (Heredity and Human Life, New York, 1963, H. L. Carson, pp. 151, 154, 162, 163) (Thus, early in human history, when a group of people were isolated from others and married within the group, certain distinctive combinations of genetic traits were emphasized in their offspring.)

  3. I have read every ones statement .I am sicilian,but since my gradmother is just Italian who is light skined brown hair blue eyes and my grandfather who is darked skin black hair brown eyes . My mother who is dark skin brown hair brown eyes .I was born red until my 12 birthday then my skin was getting lighter but people still think i’m spanishall the time. Now i’m 40 cross from a white women and cross from spanishthats what people see whenI walk out side. After all the raciam I have experienced from all sides even blacks even whites .I don’t like being called white or black or any thing eles except Sicilian.I know alot of people have made good points and thanks for writing every thing down because I have been trying to explain a lot of this histroy to my black children and my daughters black professor has been telling my daughter that every thing that has been said has been lies .And as he puts it only black people were being killed from mass lynchings .So thank you for expressing that it was the Italians,{Sicilians} in New Orleans after so called killing a white officer.I am so proud of who ever is teaching the right histroy for once .Thank you

  4. I’m northern Italian. There are people in my family who are super pale and some who are rather dark. I’m pale and all my genetic tests have 0% African of any kind and 0% Middle Eastern. I come out 100% European. I come out related to various groups in Europe and only come out like 50% Italian, even though all my grandparents are from Italy. I’ve seen results of Italian friends who are shocked to find out they are like 8% sub Saharan African. Usually they are from Naples and south in Italy, as well as Sicily. Actually, many Sicilians I’ve talked to about 23andMe results were more Levant than sub Saharan African. So it’s a mash up. Some people in southern Italy and Sicily will have no African and others will. I haven’t found one person on 23andMe from northern Italy who showed up with African or anything other than European ancestry. So, skin color doesn’t really matter, since I have a range in my family. My mother is dark and my father light. Both came out 100% European like me. I tested with three companies. All results were the same. With southern Italy and Sicily it’s anyone’s guess and there are inbred areas where they just aren’t related to Africans and Middle Eastern people. Sicilians do seem more related to them though. However, during the unification of Italy, half a million northern Italians went to southern Italy and Sicily for land. Not true that northern Italians did not go to southern Italy. When the feudal system broke, there was a land grab. Many of those blond Sicilians are really northern Italians. You can’t go by curly hair and dark skin or my family would be a mix and they aren’t. I have a blond German friend who has really curly blond hair. Southern Europeans like the Greeks could have inbred for curly hair. There is also the problem that Italians in the US lie about their ancestry big time. Many Sicilians did mix with people of African ancestry in the late 1800’s in the US south. They try to hide that and it makes it hard to know what the real story is. In any event, interesting topic.

  5. Well, I’m Italian and started to look at my origins. I started with a company that checks your DNA and the results were 70% germanic / celtic and 30% from North-Africa, Middle-East. And that matches what my mother family member told me. They told me that the origin of the family is original from North-Africa, and of Jewish origins. The family name itself “Gatto”, could be well of Jewish origins as in Italy Christians usually gave animal names instead of Christian names to Jews (Gatto is cat in english).

    What I sure of is that Egyptian, Roman or Greek civilization that created the foundation of the Western World were surely not white.

  6. Lol im actually of italian sicilian decent there are sicilians with african roots berber arab not all sicilians are of black thats a stupid mistake to make the arabs were thrown out of sicily by the Normans. Sicilians are not italian theres a big diffrence do your history right. Ll europeans have some extent of african heritage.

  7. All my grandparents came to America from Sicily. I’m light skinned with dark hair, freckles & green eyes. I don’t even tan. The funny part is that my father’s side of the family is descended from the Black Moors of Africa & some of them look it too. I picked up more of my mother’s genetics, which may have descended from the Arabs & other groups. I also just found out that my Sicilian last name originated in Burgundy, France & it’s a black name that means “one who is dark & royal”. Can’t wait for DNA test results to see what else is in my past. Also, I’ve read that any Sicilian/Italian name beginning with Mor is descended from the Moors. The Moors gave us the university system that we have, so I am very proud to have Moor & Sicilian blood.

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