In my dad’s store, they spoke Italian

I keep thinking of that racist idiot screaming at two women for speaking Spanish in a store in New York. If you’d come to my dad’s grocery store in the 1950s, you would have heard Italian spoken. It didn’t mean my parents or our customers were any less American. For so many, the journey here had not been easy. They had to have wanted it bad. They were fully committed to America.

So they came here and in building a new life in America, they kept some things that gave them comfort in a strange land. And they repaid that land by becoming hardworking and productive members of their communities even if they never really conquered the English language. But that’s ok. It doesn’t mean they were in any way trying to make this country into the country they left. They left it for a reason. They came to America so that they and their family could be American.

And by the third generation, we all mostly were. I don’t speak Italian. My mother barely did. Am I still proud of my Italian heritage? You bet your bottom. Any culture that creates the cannoli has my undying devotion. But this does not make me less an American.

In fact, I have some friends who would argue that everyone currently claiming to just be protecting their country in this debate is an immigrant.  But they might still be a tad ticked off that you stole their land.