The All-American Family

I am of Italian-American extraction; I had four grand-parents, all born in Italy and therefore by “blood” I am as Italian as anyone walking around Italy today.

I married a girl with the same background; our children are therefore “Italian by blood”. In fact, I can claim dual Italian citizenship if I wanted to go through the legal process. Though my paternal grandparents came here to live and work, they never renounced Italian citizenship. My father thus automatically held dual citizenship; so I am eligible as well.

I grew up in a Little Italy in Brooklyn; everyone’s name ended in a vowel.

I met Jews in high school but didn’t meet my first black man until I went to work full time at age 16.

There was never any question of seriously courting a girl who didn’t come from an Italian background. My grandmother had the vapors when my brother dated an Austrian girl. Memories of World War I.

Much has changed.

My youngest daughter married a Puerto Rican guy and now I have lots of Hispanic in-laws.  They met in college; I have no doubt he would take a bullet for her.

My brother married a Jewish woman   They are now divorced though she and I have remained close.  They had two daughters. Her mother was every Jewish woman. She passed several years ago. I miss her.

A niece married a Korean guy – two weddings, one in the Korean fashion. They have two children, considered “inter-racial” by American racial standards.

Another niece married a woman in Massachusetts. Great wedding. They have two children, one each, fathered by the same Italian man through the “bank”. They own a lovely home, pay their bills and taxes, have straight and gay friends and bother no one.

My eldest daughter married a German – Italian guy. Mostly Italian, not much German except for his name. He roots for Florida State and the Philadelphia Eagles; he and my daughter are both lawyers.  He has made my girl very happy.

His sister married a black guy. His family came from Baltimore for my daughter’s wedding. His mother is a fine church going woman who likes big hats.

Both of them too are practicing lawyers, a husband and wife team. They live in a modest home in a well to do neighborhood and have an “inter-racial” son – a black kid by American racial standards. We’ve spent Thanksgivings together and roasted a pig together a couple of Christmas Eve’s ago.  I went to their son’s  First Communion earlier this year.  They stayed at my home about 6 weeks ago.

So my family holiday  card list now includes Italians, Jews, Hispanics, Koreans, lesbians, blacks, a number of “inter-racial” nieces and nephews as well as children of a lesbian couple.  Additionally I have Muslim friends and during my working days I regularly attended Iftar and Eid dinners at their homes.  I still send Ramadan good wishes and they send me Christmas emails from Pakistan.

When I was a young man none of it mattered much.  It didn’t affect me or mine.

Now when I see the police shoot a black kid first and ask questions later, it’s personal.  I have a black nephew.

When I hear hate speech directed at Hispanics, it’s personal.  My daughter now has a Hispanic last name.

Now when I hear skinheads taunting  Koreans or other anti-Asian discrimination, it’s personal.  A niece has an Asian last name as do her children.  And half the DNA.

Now when a crazed churchman holds a sign that says “God hates fags”,  it’s personal.  I have a lesbian niece.

I never could have imagined my American family 60 years ago. We’ve come a long way.

Recent events in Ferguson, New York City and Arizona however indicate there is still a long way to go.



About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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4 Responses to The All-American Family

  1. carolahand says:

    Your family sounds a lot like mine, Frank 🙂


  2. weggieboy says:

    Exactly. I have Native American nieces, great nieces, black great nieces and great nephews. Nothing like having family who are affected by societal issues to raise awareness of what people who used to be “they” but now are part of “us” go through.

    My inter-racial black nieces are/were excellent students but one got suspensions for fighting in an integrated school where white kids thought she was “too black”, and from an all black school (where she was transferred to to try to help her avoid such confrontations) where she was “too white”.

    She is a beautiful shade of light brown, grew up to be a really sweet and responsible young woman. None of that racial crap, it turned out, made any difference in how she turned out, but it shocked her white uncle who lives in a mostly white community that anyone wouldn’t love my niece as much as I do! It opened my mind and eyes to how it is to live in America as a black person or as an inter-racial person.

    It also opened my eyes to how racist my community is, though they don’t realize it. The attitudes many (including church ladies I know) have toward the President are more than Republicans dissing a Democrat President. Many I lost all respect for after they revealed this ugly side of themselves, especially during the 2008 and 2012 elections.


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