Category Archives: Xenophobia

Ethnic Group

Stereotypes are all around us. If a person is considered “ethnic,” then a stereotype is bound to be associated with their “group.” But before we even discuss ethnicity, it is good do define just what it means.  According to Cambridge Dictionary, to be ethnic means “relating to or characteristic of a large group of people who have the same national, racial, or cultural origins, and who usually speak the same language.” In reading this definition, it would seem to be a relative term, because just “who” are these groups compared to in order to be considered a large group? Coming from a father who is 100% Italian and a mother who is 100% Lebanese, am I then a part of a “sub-ethnic” group? I do not know many large groups of Lebanese-Italian people. With that said, stereotypes are bound to be associated with what some deem as “different.” Again, different from who? Well, we all know stereotypes exist. We all know that living in the United States, if you are not a White-Anglo Saxon Protestant, then you are considered a minority/different/ethnic/other….

Yes, I am one of those ethnic people, who comes from a big, diverse, family, who can out laugh and out eat just about any of their neighborhood pals. When my friends come to my house, the first thing they would do is ask is “what did your mom cook today?” Yes, my mom is an awesome cook, who can make the best Lebanese or Italian dishes on any given night…Or “hey, is your dad home, he scares the *&#$ out of me!” Yes, my dad is a big Italian man, with lots of “family connections,” reaching back to Naples, Italy.  It’s a funny thing to be considered ethnic, because, I don’t see myself or my family as different, because I can’t imagine us being any other way. But, I know firsthand that being an “ethnic” person does come with its share of xenophobic encounters.

My Lebanese grandparents came to the U.S. in 1970, and they have genuinely lost count of how many times their home has been egged or toilet papered. Especially after the 9/11 attacks, suddenly my grandparent’s neighbors became slowly distant, erecting fencing all around their homes. Yes, on both sides of their house! But, these acts of pure hatred, just because we are considered “different,” do not fuel hatred in the hearts of my family, rather, it invokes a sense of pity upon those who carry out deeds of idiocy due to needless fear of the unknown. Above and beyond all of these issues, ethnicity will always vary from family to family. To have one pure ethnic group is rather impossible and borders on “Hitler-esque” insanity. Finally, to be considered “ethnic” is an okay thing and it will always exist as long as people are considered to be different from the established societal norm. “Be proud of who you are and where you came from,” my grandmother always told me, “or else, we would live in a very boring and lonely world.”

— Dario

 

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