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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #16)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 02:35 PM

77. Although "Fredo" is not as bad a slur as many Cuomo surely knows, he

is simply explaining what this slur is like for an Italian-American, “like” not meaning the “same as.” He is not qualifying the degree of harm, or comparing Italian-American history with African-American.

He could have said the slur is like “to an Italian American” (meaning “feels” like”), many other ethnic slurs with terrible connotations, but since today we are focused on black American experience, he referred to a common slur most Americans know is unacceptable.

Historical slurs against new Italian immigrants were used in the context of a time when, in the criminological field, Southern Italian immigrants were considered a “criminal type” based on a “physiognomy” described as “simian.” Books contained measurements, photos, descriptions by facial features and head shape. Many more dark complected Italian-Americans were subjected to police harassment and suspicion, took up a fair share of the prison population, and were called “swarthy,” “greasy,” sinister. I believe Cuomo is a descendant of Southern Italians, associated notbtoo long ago, in the public mind, with the Mafia.

Any racial or ethnic slur arises out of discriminatory attitudes and practices. All have implications
entailing historical injustices, current bigoted attitudes, hatred that is often quite inclusive. Cuomo could have said “Fredo” for Italian Americans is like “Paddy.” Don’t think the guy baiting him would have gotten it. Despite “Fredo,” by no means, being equivalent to the slur Cuomo said it is subjectively like, there are some points of comparison, features universal to all ethnic and racial slurs,
exclusive to none. It is used to demean, shame, and attack an individual for her being a member of
a group which is maligned and stereotyped.

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