The Old Codger’s Corner: Am I Italian Enough?

Ken D’Angelo ‘71, STAFF WRITER

OK I am full blown gonzo confused!!! I just got off the computer after reading that Charles Barkley was defending a black football player [Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson] who was accused of “not being black enough.” My first thought upon hearing the term “not black enough” was, “What the hell does that mean?” I admit that I am easily befuddled. I initially thought that this controversy had to do with the shade of darkness of Mr. Wilson’s skin. I was wrong. Here is a partial quote from Mr. Barkley that could be called the thesis of his argument:

“For some reason we are brainwashed to think, if you’re not a thug or idiot, you are not black enough If you go to school, make good grades, speak intelligent and don’t break the law, you’re not a good black person. It’s a dirty, dark secret in the black community.”

He comments that black kids who do well in school are often harassed and told that they are acting white. If they use proper English, they are acting white.  A black athlete who  spends a longer than normal time studying films of opponent’s games, and gives extra reviews of the team playbook instead of partying with teammates is “not black enough.”  I found this reassuring. Mr. Barkley is black. I agree with his sentiment. I agree with a black man. Therefore I hold a belief that is not racist.  Therefore in this instance, I am not being racist. There is a lot to be said about a Jesuit education.

Whew, that is a load off of my mind. I was worried that maybe I might not be “Italian enough” or “bald enough” or “chubby enough”. This whole thing really had me in a whirl. You see, I can’t afford to have prejudices. If you were to attend the next D’Angelo Family Picnic, Reunion and Chow Down, you’d see what I mean. In my family I have cousins who are Indian (of the Hindu, not Casino type), black, asian, gay and lesbian. The member of the D’Angelo clan who represents the indigenous Americans is closer than a cousin. It is my son.

I cannot be a racist, sexist or any other idiotic -ist. I’d end up hating the people I love. Ridiculous! Mr. Barkley and I could be called “culturalists.” Race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, are not as important as a strong ethical culture. I think we share a belief that any culture of any color that is not supportive of learning, working, nurturing children and building in them a strong moral character is a rotten culture. Any culture of any color that endorses criminal behavior whether it is “gangsta”, Mafia, Tong, or any ethnic mob activity is a rotten culture. Any culture of any color that blithely accepts children having children, fathers abandoning families, illegitimate child after illegitimate child from generation to generation is a rotten culture.

I believe that Mr. Barkley and I believe the solution that can solve the social problems that plague our communities is a return to traditional middle-class values that teach respect for self and others, build character, accepts responsibility for ones actions and will put the good of the community above one’s own. This I believe. “Here stand I. I can do no other.” Let the reformation begin!!!