Friday, September 24, 2010

This is the Problem

Why is it so hard to believe that Italian-Americans are discriminated against? Why is it so hard to believe that there is still institutional racism against IAs, especially in New York City?

After all, New York has had an IA governor (Mario Cuomo), New York City has had an IA mayor (Rudy Giuliani) and the state is on track to have another IA governor (Andrew Cuomo). So discrimination against IAs is dead right?

Um, not so much?

In an article in The New York Times recently about a group of IAs suing the City University of New York (CUNY) charging bias, reporter Lisa W. Foderaro finds it "surprising" that IAs are still discriminated against:

If the fierceness of the battle is not unusual — fights over affirmative action are a staple on campuses — what is surprising is the group waging it: Italian-Americans.

Why? Why is this so surprising Lisa. Do you think discrimination went away when Giuliani was voted in as mayor of New York City? Apparently so.

But with Cuomo and Giuliani, all this discrimination stuff is hsitory, right? Certainly according to Ada Meloy, general counsel of the American Council on Education.

This is what she told The New York Times:

“In the diversity of the community that is New York City, it seems particularly unusual that Italian-Americans would be considered disadvantaged,” she said. “After all, in New York we had an Italian-American governor, and we may have another one coming up.”

Huh? Oh, right, since Barack Obama got elected President of the United States, discrimination against African-Americans has disappeared too.

Just because there are seemingly large numbers of IAs working on the staffs of other colleges, and a fair amount in the CUNY system (about 7 percent, up slightly from 1981), that doesn't speak to their treatment as individuals and as a group. Particularly at CUNY colleges. And the funny part is that the current director of CUNY is an Italian-American.

State Senator Diane J. Savino of Staten Island, a Democrat and the president of the Conference of Italian-American Legislators in Albany, had this to say:

“Italian-Americans are the largest ethnic group in the state of New York, and people don’t see us in the traditional sense of being an affirmative action category — I get that. But we’ve seen systematic discrimination with respect to Italian educators by CUNY.”

And this has been going on for at least 35 years.