African American in Italy

Sep 7th, 2001, 08:44 AM
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Jean, I am from Southern India very dark and am often referred to as black in the U.S., perhaps this is why African Americans? Noone has a problem when I ask them not to refer to me in this way. I think your preoccupation with this issue is what Kelly is responding to. Why do you take the time to tell people the term African American is “silly”? Why this judgment? Why here where someone is concerned about racism they might face in Italy? This is where your motives or thinking comes into question.
Sep 7th, 2001, 10:44 AM
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What is your problem? I think that Jean has said that she is respectful and will call people what they want to be called. But bear in mind not all Blacks want to be called african americans. You are like a dog on a bone!!!
Sep 7th, 2001, 11:05 AM
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Pat, Kelly is not alone in finding fault with Jean. Why not read all of her posts as well as other responses.
Sep 7th, 2001, 11:07 AM
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Hi, Elise-
I went to Italy a couple of years ago to visit a good friend who is African America who lived in the North of Italy.
During my visit there, we did not encounter any unpleasant experiences. We did find that a lot of people were intrigued by my friend because Italy is a very homogenous country and they found his looks quite exotic. I found in general the Italians like to stare at friend and I came to jokingly call it The Italian Staring Disease. But they are staring out of a harmless curiosity...and believe me, you'll be staring right back,as I've found that, in general, many Italians are very good-looking and stylish. I hope you enjoy your visit as much as I did. Bon Voyage!
Sep 7th, 2001, 03:18 PM
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It is a pleasure to read the positive comments from people about their experiences in Europe and comforting to know that one can focus on the culture and beauty of the various countries without too much concern about racial issues.

What continues to amaze me is a tiny minority of respondents have focused on the use of the term: African American.

What is amazing is that in the African community, the Afro-Caribbean community, the "black" American community, etc. this term is not an issue.

No "black" American is forced to accept the term African American. But if a person chooses that label, that is nobody's business but that person. Every individual has the right to accept or reject personal lables.

I think where the controversy comes in is some people associate radicalism from the 60's with the use of the term African American. They feel that people who lable themselves that way have a certain chip on their shoulders or a hatred for American.

Not true.

As I stated earlier, I am African American. I am proud of my heritage and very proud to be an American as well. I love living in a country that celebrates diversity. I love going to Texas and celebrating Oktoberfest in New Braunfels with a good friend of mine who may not use the label German American, but daily celebrates his German heritage.

I love participating in the St. Joseph's altar in March with Italian Americans who are very proud of their Italian heritage.

I love going to Miami and dancing the night away on South Beach listening to Salsa with Cuban Americans who proudly use the term Cuban American and love this country as fiercely as they love their heritage.

So lets end the debate on "lables".

Elise, I hope you have a great time in Italy. I am looking forward to going back to London in two months - had a marvelous time there.
Sep 7th, 2001, 06:54 PM
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XXX (mmm),

Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your posts explaining the preference of some African Americans to be referred to in that fashion.

This is not the first time certain Fodorites have expressed impatience with the term "African American" or called it wrong or silly. Consider the history, however. Long ago, "blacks" were called "Negro" or "colored" in polite company. Then, "blacks" began to prefer that term, largely to make clear that we accepted and took pride in our dark skin.

Recently, it occurred to people that it was odd to refer to ourselves as "black." Other racial groups aren't referred to by skin color. Asians aren't "yellows"; Latinos aren't "browns"; Native Americans aren't "reds." It was felt that it might be best to use a term that reflected the connection that "blacks" living in the U.S. had and still have with Africa and its cultures. Hence, the term "African American."

Note that with each name change, some "blacks" objected to the change. Hey, some people have problems with change. That does not mean the change is wrong or silly. When you know which term the person prefers, use it. If you don't know, I think it is safer to go with "African American," but black is OK. Just know you might get a correction. But that too is no reason to get upset. If you call a woman "Miss" and she corrects you with "Ms.", there is no cause to be offended, right?

So now you know: when someone asks to be referred to as African American, they are not referring to birthplace or citizenship. They are using a very clear term to communicate who they are, in situations in which race is a relevant issue. So can certain people please stop getting their noses all out of joint about it?
Sep 8th, 2001, 11:53 AM
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I was have been to Italy a number of times and have never had a bad experience. The people are not only very warm but very friendly (especially the men).

Please do not be concerned with how you will be treated. For that matter, you will be asking that question no matter where you vacation. Just enjoy your holiday.
Sep 10th, 2001, 06:45 AM
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Kjames, thanks for the info. I too am going to get the book--as I can remember almost all the details of something that I heard just once months ago (god knows I can't do that at work, unfortunately), I'm sure I'll enjoy it! And re the rest of this, how about a little more tolerance here, please...
Sep 10th, 2001, 08:20 AM
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To XX:

I am glad I could be a resource. I have pretty much ignored the raging (and lengthy) debate over "African-American" versus "black". I hope the woman whose question I answered is preparing for her trip to Italy and has moved on from this now useless section, as I will. I am interested in going to Spain sometime in the near future and hope some of the other sections will have useful travel info. Cheers!
Sep 10th, 2001, 09:19 AM
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Please, this was not written by a person of color, you people
were fooled.

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