by Anthony Corona
Maybe it’s the Meatball Sundays, or maybe it’s the loud holiday meals. It may be the famed “How ya doing?” Or the famed Italian undershirt, or dare I jest, The Sopranos. Being an American-born Italian comes with so many built-in assumptions, some of which are actually true.
For me, being Italian-American is being part of a family and cultural community that is strong in love, steeped in tradition and full of pride of self and community. Yes, it means those delectable meatballs on Sunday and the promise of loud holiday dinners, but it means so much more. Cousins who are more like brothers and sisters and a whole host of Mamma aunts, not to mention the Nanas and Pop-pops who are all part of the parenting group by family. There is always the smell of sauce — not gravy — from the kitchen, and the sounds of laughter in the yard and family room. It’s a feeling of safety and that these frustrating folks will always have your back.
From the first breath we are taught pride in our country and pride for the country our ancestors came from. As we navigate the world there is always a collective home to go to, Nanna’s kitchen or the kitchen of any of my aunts’ kitchens are just as interchangeable as my mother’s. Knowing there will always be someone to laugh with, a shoulder to cry on, or a partner to stir up some trouble with is just inherently ingrained in my Italian-American experience.
All these things and so much more made the transition from fully sighted to blind so much easier for me. I had a built-in family, extended family and community who were all ready to help me take on a new way of living. Cousins and aunts and uncles were all there to offer whatever I needed however I needed it; all I had to do was reach for a hand or a phone. That to me is probably the biggest part of being Italian-American, the knowing that there are always my Goombas ready to step in… Step in front… Step up.
As we celebrate the uniqueness of our collective community, I hold up my experience in love and look so forward to reading the similarities of culture and love and am excited to learn about other community members’ culture. I thank the Multicultural Affairs Committee for the leadership of cultural inclusion here in our amazing American Council of the Blind.