Sopranos refers to a negative stereotype of Italian Americans
As a member of Forum Lodge # 391, Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America, and having served on the Newport Festa Italiana committee for several years, I have to share my disappointment in Dan Lederer’s Newport Food Scene column on October 7th. Daily News from Newport. The headline, “Italian Restaurants to Make Tony Soprano Proud,” reminded me that negative stereotypes about Italian Americans endure.
The columnist has given good coverage to a number of area restaurants and ethnic food vendors. However, to associate this with allusions to the fictional soprano and her compatriots was, for me and for others of Italian descent, rather reckless and hurtful. I have no interest in any of the establishments mentioned, but I see the not-so-implicit bias promoted in the hype of the show and its prequel through references to “the murderous anti-hero” and his ” associates “who might want to dine there.
I am particularly moved to speak about this in light of so many arguments going on across the country regarding prejudice and prejudice. It seems that a greater sensitivity and awareness of the contributions and strengths of various races and ethnicities is still lacking in too many people. The columnist wrote about “those strange times”. Yes, so many weird and incredible actions are reported daily in the media and it is time to reflect on our roles as individuals in perpetuating damaging myths and comments.
In addition, each of us should strive to think more about our comments, written and spoken, which may unintentionally hurt. Many years ago I wrote in this post about the unwarranted denigration of people of Irish descent, an attribute I do not share. When I taught in Newport schools, my students learned not to laugh at or insult anyone they saw as “different.” So while I hope the delicious menus highlighted by the columnist will attract a lot of customers, I also hope your readers can open their minds and hearts to the positive contributions made to our community by our diverse population. Maybe one day we can all say, “Capisco – I get it”.
Sandra J. Flowers, Newport
Greater recognition of George Thomas Downing needed
The importance of George Thomas Downing (1819-1903) cannot be underestimated as a resident and businessman who called Newport “his home”. His life journey was to be a shrewd businessman, community and civil rights leader, and anti-slavery activist during the Civil War and the Age of Reconstruction. After Frederick Douglass, he was described as “the most important black man in the land”. Newport honored his life by renaming State Street to Downing Street.
It’s time for Newport to honor this extraordinary black American citizen by erecting a life-size bronze statue of Downing on a stone pedestal located on Bellevue Avenue, perhaps near the location of his business known today as the name of The Downing. To block.
Let’s start the discussion.
Federico Santi, Newport