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A Great Conspiracy against Our RaceItalian Immigrant Newspapers and the Construction of Whiteness in the Early 20th Century$
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Peter G. Vellon

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780814788486

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814788486.001.0001

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Defending Italian American Civility, Asserting Whiteness

Defending Italian American Civility, Asserting Whiteness

(p.105) 5 Defending Italian American Civility, Asserting Whiteness
A Great Conspiracy against Our Race

Peter G. Vellon

NYU Press

This chapter argues that the Italian language mainstream press modified its outlook toward African Americans during the years 1909 through 1919. Informed by their own growing understanding of American racial mores, as well as by consistent calls for immigration restriction and Americanization campaigns unleashed by World War I, Italian American sympathy toward African Americans waned. Throughout the decade, mainstream newspapers shifted noticeably from criticizing white racism toward African Americans, to chiding white Americans for their rhetoric of racial exclusion toward Italian immigrants. Consistent with this argument, Italian language mainstream newspapers discontinued comparisons to African Americans and viewed any outside attempts to posit otherwise as extremely dangerous. Continued demands for full incorporation into American society were inextricably tied to establishing not only the civilized nature of the Italian race but also Italians' acceptability as whites.

Keywords:   Italian language press, African Americans, American racial mores, World War I, white racism, American society, Italian immigrants

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