This past month of October we were reminded by some media outlets that we were celebrating, "Italian Heritage Month." You may have known if you read my blog or visited some of the other Italian American sites, but if you hadn't --would you have known this fact-- that nationally as Italian Americans we were celebrating October as Italian Heritage Month?
I will say, many media outlets did a wonderful job in broadcasting & reporting Columbus Day parades locally & across the nation. But, honestly...if I wasn't so involved with my site and reaching out to other Italian Americans, I don't think many people had the opportunity to know or realize what resources are available to connecting to their Italian culture.
As Americans, yes --we are just that, American, but as an American we are part of something bigger, which is our cultural history. So, when you become surrounded by no resources, a sense of assimilation, and a society who shuns cultural education..then yes..I believe it could be possible we are becoming forgetful of our cultural history as Italian Americans.
Now, I don't want this to come off as negative, but there are so many everyday examples that can add to this theory. For instance, can your cultural identity be conflicting in your everyday life? My personal experiences have always leaned toward this being true, but you make amends with your upbringing and values, which then ultimately shapes your everyday life as an American.
You know, the more and more I am engrossed with my blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc..I realize so many Italian Americans are looking for anwers, relationships, ways of connecting to their cultural pasts. The biggest reason why they or YOU seek these answers to your Italian background is because this very thing I speak of, has happened--the fact that maybe your ancestors, parents, grandparents were forced to forget their cultural backgrounds not on purpose but because that was part of fitting in and becoming American.
So, now the generations come full circle and we all seek a common connection. I can only hope that collectively through my site and other Italian driven resources that we can remain, respect, celebrate and practice our traditions and memories as Italian Americans. So, lift a glass of wine this month and toast to your cultural background and be proud to be Italian American. Salute!
Interesting post. I suppose in some ways it's inevitable that people forget their heritage. If you don't associate with others with the same heritage, then you may begin to lose interest, or perhaps you have other things to worry about. And, as you point out, people simply want to fit in, in which case cultural heritage can become cultural baggage.
Tied to this is the worry that people might label you as being 'different'.
America though was created by people from many different backgrounds, so it could be argued that cultural heritage is part of America's history. It is what made America what it is today - and what led to Obama being elected.
Americans should be encouraged to celebrate their heritage and not let it evaporate.
As a matter of interest, how is this subject treated within America's education system? Are kids taught to be 'American' or to appreciate what made them 'American'?
I think it what would be great would be for Italian Americans to develop relationships with the areas of Italy from which they came. Both Italy and the US could benefit from the resulting interaction.
Alex - English, but with Italian and Irish anscestry.
We have been calling it Italian American Heritage month. We think there is a difference :)
Thank you everyone for your comments. I encourage you to continue your passion for our heritage. Unity is what connects not negativity.. so whether you refer to this month as Italian American Heritage Month or Italian Heritage Month makes no difference..we all seek the same connection.
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