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April 22, 2016     Post-Gazette
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April 22, 2016

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PAGE 4 POST-GAZETTE, APRIL 22, 2016 L'Anno Bello: A Year in Italian Folklore Finding My Roots by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz Nature has come a long way from the bar- ren, cold winter. I can now walk around my neighborhood in balmy sixty-degree weather, relishing the compara- tive heat wave in my pale blue windbreaker and orange polka-dot tee. I have also noticed the trees all around me, filling with fragile green buds, their roo{s firmly entrenched in the ground. These trees have inspired me to examine my own roots, which extend from Italy and South America to the United States, that I long neglected in the early years of my life. Just like nature, I, too, have come a long way in how I view my identity as an Italian- American. When I v~as a little girl in el- ementary school, being Italian was a mark of shame, a stain which forever labeled me as an outsider.., at least, that is how I perceived it. The problem lay not in the fact that I was Ital- ian, but that I was too Italian, too old country. My classes teemed with plenty of other kids who had Italian surnames, as is typical in the Boston area. However, their ancestors had arrived to the United States decades, or even centuries, be- fore and their first names and customs had become decidedly American. I was the only girl in the class with an unpro- nounceable name ... Alessia ... and I quickly grew frustrated and embarrassed over how many times I had to correct people about it. I was the only girl, it seemed, whose family opened presents on Christinas Eve instead of Christmas Day. When my friends gushed over Italian food, they meant Ameri- canized staples like spaghetti with meatballs and la- sagna filled with runny red sauce. My mother cooked odd things like orechiette with broccoli rabe, oregano-seasoned potato croquettes and choux pastries with thick yellow egg cream. I hated the fact that my family spoke Italian and Span- ish at gatherings instead of English. I hated the fact that the programs on the Italian channel were so loud and goofy. Most of all, I hated the fact that being Italian had such a nega- tive effect on my self-esteem. Gradually, however, I began to realize that the problem lay inside me, not in being Italian. I used to be blind to the num- ber of people who expressed interest .and admiration in m'y Italian heritage: the teachers who exclaimed how beautiful my name was, the friends who told me that they wished they spoke a foreign language, the many admirers of my mother's authentic Italian cuisine. As I matured, my Italian life be- came something to be proud (Continued on Page 14) by Sal Giarratani We Drown in Political Quicksand Around Here, Don't We? Someone recently asked me a good question. "How many elec- tions are too many elections?" I don't have a good answer, but it does seem of late that we have been having one ~election after another. We can't relax from one without jumping into the next fray. To make matters worse, on the national level we seem to we can't have a president from La Cosa Nostra. Memo to Cruz. Don't insult Italian-American voters. Remember this voting group is very often a decisive swing vote. When a Republican wins, usually they get lots of Italian-American votes. When the Democrats win, they get most of the swing group's votes. Insulting any!~fl~le~ic group is have lowered discussion into, wro~ig~ but whalav~,Republican the world of Mad Magazine, too. candidate inshlts Italian:Amer- I am so, so tired of all the bick ering back a~n~rth~ seemingly inte~ looking like angry kindergar- teners attacking each other over nothing. No one, or no political party, is immune, not Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, or Donald Trump. Recently, Glen Beck has compared Trump to Mussolini and Cruz to Moses. This is one reason why I don't listen to Beck on the radio. More recently, Ted Cruz compared Donald Trump to a Sicilian gangster, a.k.a. "The Godfa- ther." He actually stilted that iaahJ~ro~ete~/4~is plain dumb. fltodald ' tli may be many things, but please don't turn him into "Don Corleone." Isn't it time for those seeking our votes to keep everything on a higher plain? Democracy is a serious thing; it shouldn't turn into a hapless soap opera or plain bad TV. We the people deserve better than all that we have been get- ring thrown at us recently. Our votes count. When you play stu- pid with the people, the people can return the favor in spades. Reach for the stars and not for the mud under our feet. DIAMONDS ROLEX ESTATE JEWELRY Bought & Sold Jewelers Exch. Bldg. 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