Many thanks to the National Organization of Italian American Women for honoring me, along with food editor/journalist Gail Chiampa and attorney Laura Pisaturo, as “Wise Women.” Each of the honorees spoke about our Italian roots and the importance of remembering those roots on behalf of newcomers.
From my talk: … “Growing up, this strong sense of place was irrevocably yoked to feelings of authenticity, of abundance, of safety, of belongingness. Feeling safe allows trust – and from trust springs courage.
This is the courage of our Italian ancestors – and the kind of courage that dreamers in the DACA program and millions of other Americans must summon today. They are suffering right now – as our relatives, who arrived in this country 100 or 150 years ago, suffered. Our families were discriminated against because they were dark and because of their religion – Catholicism. They were discriminated against because they were poor and could not speak the language.
Let’s not forget that the Italians who were doing well did not leave Italy. It was the southerners, the farmers, the peasants, our people, who came here to find a better life.
And they did. Because of their courage and sacrifice, and their unbreakable bonds, I am here, and you are here. Articulate, educated, comfortable, and confident. Let us express our gratitude by speaking up and defending those who came here after our own families did.”