Sometimes I think we're our own worst enemies when it comes to battling stereotypes. It's not so much the negative portrayals that are a problem, it's the ignorance that comes along with it.
Case in point: An Italian-American web portal called Virtual Italia features pages of books, music, news, features and other things pertaining to our culture. There's also a forum on the site with a bunch of categories. There's also a section for local forums for various cities, New York being one of them. In this forum, there's a post by NYnonna about John Gotti. Apparently there was a thread about Gotti and the Mafia a while back, which NYnonna read. It seems there were some posts about Gotti and his Mafiosi hoods and how they give Italian-Americans a bad name. Apparently NYnonna disagrees.
Here's some of what she has to say on the subject:
For the record John Gotti never killed anyone himself. What he may have told others to do is on their conscience.
Then there's this bit of nonsense:
I find it hard to believe an Italian would actually believe all the wasp bull about the " families" being bad people. They were people, doing what ever they had to do to take care of their own just as their forefathers did and ancestors in Italy did.
You can read the thread here.
It's ignorance like this that makes it hard for us to combat the negative stereotypes we find in the media. When people like NYnonna spout their uninformed garbage in public, it makes it that much harder for people to take our complaints seriously.
These people do not help our cause, they just help to reinforce the stereotype.