Monday, September 2, 2019

Happy Anniversary 11 years of Italian American Girl!


Another year its now 11 years from when I started the Italian American Girl web site.   Facebook was just starting, Twitter just launched and no Instagram then, my site took off so quickly just because of our tight knit Italian American community.  The support I received from my fellow Italian American friends from all over the country and in different parts of the world was amazing.  Till this day, we still have the same connections, its pretty amazing.  Being Italian American is definitely a very unique experience, I had the best of both worlds, growing up Italian American in the USA.   I think in today's climate of heavy immigration discussions, we are experiencing a new wave of immigrants who may or may not come into the country through the proper channels, but its also a severe economic and dangerous climate in the world.  When my father came over from Italy he was the oldest of his family expected to support the family after his father died in World War II, my father's uncle worked to get him to the USA to help him, everyone in Italy was poor, he knew if my father stayed there he would not make it to support an entire family.   My father is in the USA now close to 60 years, came over on a ship the whole nine...  true immigrant experience, yes my father is now almost 90 years old.   

Living in the USA and living the American dream is a challenge, the economic climate for most people is difficult, and if you don't speak the language even harder and you are treated badly, in my opinion.   America is about a dream, its about working hard.  If my father didn't come here and work as hard as he did, I would not have or do any of the things I've experienced or are able to have and enjoy.  I thank my father for everything he's done for me and my entire family.  Thank you for continuing to support my blog, my brand, my experiences; without you and our community we can't thrive.  Grazie a tutti.  xoxo 

~Margaret 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

I'm Italian and Yes, I Have Curly Hair -- Part 2

The struggle is real when we delve into the world of ethnic naturally curly hair and all that it embodies.  A long time ago I wrote a blog post for my Italian American Girl site talking about my feelings around being ethnic, first generation Italian American and having extremely curly hair.  My feelings and hair have not changed much but society and our ways of digesting and accepting others may or may not have changed too. 

 In that post found HERE I talk about my feelings around how people perceive and treat people with curly hair in and around work environments or just anywhere.  This is a real topic and real instances of discrimination do occur from what seems to be very a light topic or comment usually of "wow, I love your hair, how do you get it that way, or wow, that's a lot of hair.. how do you manage it...?" as if my hair is an issue or it makes someone else feel uncomfortable or even opens up the door for some people to cross my boundaries and assume because my hair is big and curly its associated to some sort of stereotype.  No women with naturally ethnic curly hair are not more wild, or put forth a vibe of more sexual energy.  

As humans we obviously perceive and absorb what ever feelings we have naturally, but when we are programmed by the media and cultural stereotypes we are in fact discriminating and maybe against other people for even more different qualities than curly hair.   If you look at more ethnic men and women who are in the public eye they tend to keep their rather ethnic naturally curly hair straight because that's more widely accepted and I believe makes people feel more comfortable because its more common.  Different scares people. 

More recently over the summer, I read this amazingly interesting story out of NYC, "This year, the New York City Commission on Human Rights received seven complaints detailing similar incidents, in which employees were told that their tresses had to be straightened in order to comply with business standards. In February, the agency stepped in and officially banned “hair discrimination” in the city, granting victims of this kind of racial bias grounds to take legal action. (The cases that prompted the move are still under investigation.)"  READ THE FULL STORY HERE

I love my curly hair, I do straighten it once in a while, but guess what? That's not me: the picture above is me, I don't think everyone is OK and or ready for the ethnicity of real curly hair and there continues to be stereotyping and discrimination, we must do a better job at educating our children and communities about acceptance and equality.     Also, the reason why I'm writing this blog post is because I've been asked a million times by my readers to talk more about this topic, and believe it or not the article was read over 20,000 times and counting.   I may do more on this topic, talk to someone for podcast and even do a video on how to do my curly hair.   If you have thoughts on this topic or want to add something for me to talk about, send me an email: margaret@italianamericangirl.com 

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Italian Summer Salad and DIshes

Summer is always the time of year for the best summer salads, especially summer salad. A variation of a well prepared dish is fresh tomato with mozzarella and basil from the garden.  Easy to make, slice the tomatoes downward to get the full circumference and shape of the presentation.   Cut your mozzarella and lay on top of the tomaotoes and then add the basil.  I drizzle olive oil and a pinch salt all over the dish.   We eat well but very healthy.    What's your favorite summer salad?



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Sunday, May 26, 2019

An Early Father's Day Telling My Italian Father's Story & Honoring Him

 As Father's day is closely approaching, I find myself taking more and more pictures and documenting my father and his daily rituals.  This past May my father turned 89, he suffers a multitude of health problems and can't move around like he used to and requires a chair anywhere he goes, its been getting very hard for him as he loses his breath dramatically and can't go far like he used to.   Its been hard to see a man who has always been so strong physically slow down so much and be limited.  Although this is the current reality right now, he continues to inspire me.

So, as he slows down at this fast rate, I'm faced with thinking about all the great things about him right now and in my whole life.  My father's story is this:  He came to America in 1956 and took a ship ( The Olympia, and Andrea Doria, which are famous historical ships) to get here, it was a 10 day journey on his first voyage. This trip he made several times over the first years as he went back and forth to support his family after he made his first minimal money here in the USA. 

My father landed on Ellis Island, as one of the last immigrant groups to actually dock there, but obviously the more modern version.   He settled in Newark, N.J., where my great uncle put him to work right off the boat.  My father also worked for the American Can Company, which was also American Can Company ranked 97th among United States corporations in the value of World War II military production contracts)

After earning some money, my father religiously sent money back to his mother and sister in Reggio Calabria, literally just to survive.

My parents both grew up very poor and poverty was common in Calabria.  Its was a very rural area (farm and agriculture) and with minimal work.  Even to this day if you're not in law enforcement, educator or government employee you're basically living the poverty line.  Today some families do well with their own businesses, but for the most part many emigrated out of Calabria and still do to this day and go towards either in Northern Italy or another country to sustain economic stability.

After World War II, my father was urged by my great uncle to come to America, so he could work and gain a better life.   The reason this all unfolded during that era was my father was the oldest of the family and was basically responsible for the family after my grandfather was killed in World War II.  My father's family never received official notice or my grandfather's body back from war, the government at the time sent a soldier to tell you that your loved one was killed in action.  It was a tragic time then for my father.  For my father when he was a small child he still remembers when German bomber planes were going over the mountains in Calabria and dropping bombs.  They were all living in bomb shelters built in the mountains, my father said there were actual true stories where German soldiers took Italian and American soldiers and would drown them in the wine vats.   My father also owned a goat who he loved that he said suffered a bomb injury from the shrapnel and eventually died.  My father was was just a little boy, can you imagine the horror?  Then fast forward to getting on a ship (mind you my father does not swim)  to a country you know nothing about because you have to make money and basically hope your family survives, it was the 1950s but even so, poverty was a reality.

My father married my mother when he went back to Italy for a visit and year's later in the 60s, she came to the USA on one of the first ever Pan Am flights.  My parents ended up having four children and I am the youngest.  Growing up there was never a time I remember my father not working.  He worked his day job in construction and then would come home eat and leave again to hustle and work other side job till late at night and then wake up and do again the next day.   What I learned from him was the hustle.  He worked his ass off, invested in buying his first homes in Newark, NJ - he would buy, refurbish and sell when he could, he did this all by himself and obviously at a time when the American dream was accessible.   My father was always an entrepreneur, he was busy none stop, but one thing I always knew was that he loved me, if he was leaving early in the morning, which was everyday at 5 am - he would stop in our rooms and say good bye and even as a smaller child he would bring me milk in the morning.  I mean you just can't make it up, so as Father's day comes around the corner, I celebrate my father for all things he did, does, and continues to do.   Let's celebrate all of our father's and Papas. 

Ciao- xoxo
Margaret