Monday, July 21, 2014

Whites Who Aren't as White

Growing up, I wondered why Italians (American or European) were all considered "White" in my community. Many have olive or brown skin, broad facial features and hair that - to me anyway - resembles that of many Middle Easterners and North Africans. Most Spanish and Greek people (plus most Turkish people), generally looked different to me too - different from Northern Europeans. I never really viewed any of those groups as just White.

When I took the occasional cursory glance at a world map (as a kid), I noticed the limited geographical distance between North Africa and Southern Europe, including Italy, Spain and Greece. Now that I'm older, it seems obvious that the close proximity between North Africa and Southern Europe, which encourages commerce and the mixing of genes, easily explains the ethnic diversity that is often phenotypically reflected in those groups of Southern European and Mediterranean people.  

I also learned about the 8th century invasion of Southern Europe (Spain, Portugal and France) by North African people (Moors), and the nearly 800-year Muslim rulership of Spain that followed (the Moors called the Iberian land they ruled Al-Andalus).  Parts of Italy were also dominated by the Islamic Moors in the 9th century, a rulership that, as in Spain, remained intact for hundreds of years. 

Italians, or those who admit to being Italian, have historically been refused membership in American "White pride" organizations, but currently that trend appears to be changing, based on my limited, informal research.  Ideas about who is "White enough" apparently shift over time. 


lilkunta said...

Is this why Italians discriminate against Sicilians and Castillians ?
Bc Sicilians and Castilians are dark with textured hair ?

Jay Walker said...

Hi there. Yes, I've always suspected that to be true.

There's a mere 200 mile distance from Sicily to Tunis, the capital of Tunisia - Southern Italy is also fairly close to Algeria, Libya and Morocco.

The Kingdom of Castile was part of Iberia, and Iberia, as mentioned in this blog entry, was dominated by the Moors for hundreds of years.