Politics

It’s time to end Columbus Day: An Open Letter to the City of Philadelphia
Culture, Politics

It’s time to end Columbus Day: An Open Letter to the City of Philadelphia

For too long we have honored colonizers and slave masters and silenced the history of Indigenous and enslaved peoples. It’s time for Philadelphia and the world to stop celebrating the architects of genocide and white supremacy. It’s time to end Columbus Day. Contro Colombo: Italian Americans for Indigenous People’s Day We are a growing group of Philadelphian Italian-Americans petitioning the City of Philadelphia to officially replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day. We stand in solidarity with groups like Indigenous 215 and Indigenous Peoples Day Philly who have been making this demand for years. For too long, members of the Italian-American community have stood behind Columbus and lifted him up as our hero, but any student of history can plainly see he was not. The hi...
Italy’s Oil Colony: Basilicata
Politics

Italy’s Oil Colony: Basilicata

An interview with Giorgio Santoriello, author of Colonia Basilicata A regional map of Italy with Basilicata in Red. The region of Basilicata is historically one of the poorest and most rural regions of Italy. With a total population of only half-a-million people, Basilicata is known to outsiders for its vast landscapes, its picturesque villages, and its many heritage sites: The Sassi of Matera, the abandoned city of Craco, the beauty of Castelmezzano, and the Roman city of Grumentum. But behind the postcard images is the toxic reality of the oil industry in the region, which has an environmental track record that borders on the criminal. The areas most impacted by the oil extraction have seen sharp rises in the rates of cancers, yet Eni, the petroleum giant, exerts undue influen...
Why Pummarolə?
Culture, History, Politics

Why Pummarolə?

Some explanation of our name by Samantha Pinto, on behalf of Pummarolə July 31, 2020 Image description: Painting by Renato Guttuso, Sicilian painter. Five red, furrowed tomatoes appear on a brown and white background, perhaps a wooden table. Pummarola is the Neapolitan word for tomato. What food staple is more emblematic of the Italian Diaspora than the tomato? It is the basis of gravy (otherwise known as “pasta sauce”) whose acidic-garlicky scent wafts through the streets of South Philly every Sunday afternoon. The tomato, despite being native to Central America, has become the basis of our peasant dishes, our street foods, and our comfort foods. Like the Italian diaspora, it’s a fruit that has been contested, mischaracterized, and sometimes maligned; yet, it has also become ...
The Fascist Roots of Columbus Day
History, Politics

The Fascist Roots of Columbus Day

A statue of explorer Christopher Columbus after its beheading by an unknown vandal. (Photo by Sarah Betancourt) This article was originally published by CommonWealth Magazine on June 25, 2020. The modern-day holiday has an inglorious history. by Patrick Breen AS STATUES OF Christopher Columbus are toppled (or beheaded), from St. Paul to Richmond to Boston, Americans are beginning to question the motive for raising certain historical actors to mythical status. Though almost every American will recognize Columbus’s name, the origins of the calendar-recognized October holiday remain insidiously unfamiliar to most people. While most arguments in favor of ending the tributes to Columbus focus on the history of the carnage he directed at indigenous people on the Caribbean islands...
Philly Italian Americans Sign Open Letter for Racial Justice
Opinion, Politics

Philly Italian Americans Sign Open Letter for Racial Justice

By Samantha Pinto and Jeanne D’Angelo, in collaboration with the forthcoming Philly Radical Italian Network July 22, 2020 For too long, mainstream Italian-American organizations have claimed to speak for everyone in our community, framing critiques of figures like Columbus as attacks on all Italian-Americans. These organizations ignore those who work in solidarity with Black liberation and Indigenous self-determination movements as well as the racial and ideological diversity of the people who make up the Italian diaspora. Many of us support the removal of all public monuments devoted to symbols of white supremacy and violence, like Christopher Columbus and Frank Rizzo. These conversations have been reignited by the recent protests in Philadelphia in response to the murders of Georg...
The Autumn and Fall of Italian Workerism
History, Politics

The Autumn and Fall of Italian Workerism

by David Broder Originally published in Catalyst Vol. 3 No. 4 Winter 2020 Across the West, the last four decades have been marked by the large-scale collapse of the labor movement. Not only have trade unions withered but so have, with few exceptions, the social-democratic and communist parties and their roots in working-class life. Neoliberalism has not only created new market structures, reduced welfare provision, and privatized industries, it has also pulverized the social basis of many old working-class institutions. Yet as crisis-struck neoliberalism continues to spark all manner of social revolt, many activists insist that the fall of the mass parties is not such a disaster. Their demise is either celebrated — a liberation from bureaucratic control, opening up space for mo...
Brutal Deaths of Exploited Migrants Shine a Spotlight on Italy’s Farms
Politics

Brutal Deaths of Exploited Migrants Shine a Spotlight on Italy’s Farms

Protest in memory of Mohamed Ben Ali in Naples. Photograph: Pasquale Senatore/Pacific Press/Rex/Shutterstock By Lorenzo Tondo and Marta Bellingreri This article was originally published by The Guardian on July 13, 2020. Earlier this summer, as millions of Italians were locked down inside their homes, fruit and vegetables were left to rot in the fields despite the cost to the country’s economy. Italy’s informal refugee and migrant workforce, who had previously worked long hours in wretched conditions for paltry wages to bring produce off the fields, were absent from the farms. ‘A beautiful thing’: the African migrants getting healthy food to Italians “Most of the migrants work without proper papers,’’ says Tonino Russo, regional secretary in Sicily of the Flai CGIL, I...
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