Ethnic Groups (A Personal Reflection) Essay

1139 words - 5 pages

I come from a very diverse background, Italian, Polish, German, Russian, Redneck, American Indian. I?m basically a mutt. However, I will focus on the Italian background of my family, for the sake of this assignment.In the early 1800?s, there were not very many Italians immigrating to the United States, but at the same time Italy was becoming very overcrowded ?From 1890 to 1900, 655,888 Italians arrived in the United States, of whom two-thirds were men.? (2002) America was probably a target because many other countries hyped it up as ?the land of opportunity?. America had plenty of jobs and the Italians were looking for work. Immigrants before 1880 were more often professionals, like doctors, artists, composers, teachers, merchants, and architects, or trained craftsmen, like stonecutters, silk makers, and winemakers. This was certainly due to their lack of schooling, but also because so many of the Italian immigrant did not intend to stay in the United States. The majority of Italian immigrants came with no intention of staying. The idea was to fund jobs, save some money, and then return home; only about half of them followed their plans, the others sent home for their families to join them, planning on staying in America.Dual Labor Market/Institutional Discrimination The "Americans" already settled in this country also made it extremely hard for the Italian immigrant to blend into society by openly showing their hostility and hatred toward them. Coming into America, Italian immigrants were made to feel unwelcome as they were greeted with numerous discriminations. The American printed cruel remarks in their descriptions of Italian immigrants. They thought of Italian immigrant as a threat to their social and economic status. They saw Italian immigrants as inferior, illiterate, dirty, lazy, and unable to contribute positively to America. Once children started to go to, school, the schools would not let them speak Italian or follow Italian customs and holidays. In his Writing to the Archbishops and Bishops of America, Pope Leo XIII (1888) states ?it is, indeed, piteous that so many unhappy sons of Italy, driven by want to seek another land, should encounter ills greater than those from which they would fly.? The majority of the Italian immigrants were taking heavy manual labor jobs in steel mills, clothing factories, shoe factories, and construction. Because the Italians could not initially speak English, professional labor brokers, known as the pardones, to help them find work, contracted them out. During this time, the Italians were making about $5 - $10 a month working 90 hours a week. Unfortunately, the padrones were not very much help because they were cheating them out of their money. ?Italian immigrants, especially from the south, were considered inherently lower class by other Americans, and they were common targets of abuse.? (Luconi, 2004) When they reach the reach the lands for which they are destined, ignorant as they are of the language...

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