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THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2017 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 T here is a question, these days, making Italy and the US closer, a question bringing to Italy what many emigrants of the past did experience when they chose the United States as their adoptive mother- land. It is a controversial problem far, for the moment, from being solved, espe- cially because it has been more politically manipulated than properly tackled, without any proper attempt to find an acceptable solution. I am talking about the ius soli. Approving the ius soli would imply recognizing Italian citizenship to all people born on Italian soil, independently from their parents' origins. Today, it is blood ties that make people Italian (ius sanguinis), that is, people are Italian if at least one of their parents is. For all those children with non-Italian parents, but born and bred in Italy, educated in its schools, speaking its language and embracing its culture and society, being recognized as Italian is difficult well beyond the bureaucracy of obtaining naturalization. These children keep on being considered "foreigners." Obviously, a father and a mother from abroad, who chose Italy as a place to live, work and raise a family, and came into contact with Italian culture as adults, do not have the same relationship with the country, its heritage and society as a child born in it. Such a child is likely to keep on having a double cultural -possibly even linguistic- identity, just like his or her parents, while being much more Italian than them at the same time. Sociology taught us how differences in integration, assimilation and adaptation among generations are a given. However, in a world as globalized as ours, where we all mix, mingle, break borders and exchange habits, languages and behaviors, it seems that reducing the issue of identity to - or thinking to solve it with - an Italian citizenship certificate may be limiting. Let us go back to our introduction, though: many people who migrated to Italy in recent years are living today what millions of Italians lived in the US yesterday. I am not talking exclusively about the Italian Heritage Month: which definition of identity would you chose? From the director children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews of those who first came to American shores in the early 1900s, but also about all those who migrated to the US throughout later decades, experiencing the same thing. A century or some decades later Italians, and those who would like to be, are the ones now tackling the issue of identity. Identity, a concept we take for granted, until the moment it has to face diversity in all its facets: cultural, linguistic, behavioral, religious, ethnic. Without migrants, in other words, we would not have valid reasons to ask ourselves what "being Italian" truly means. On the other hand, the heavier and heavier presence of "foreigners" turns into a mirror used to reflect on the difference between "us" and "them." Italians in America, Italian-Americans, naturalized, 100% American parents, grandparents and children, pretty much experience the same situation. What does being Italian mean? What does characterize Italian-Americans and make them different from other US citizens or, to be more precise, what makes them feel different? October is the Italian Heritage Month, and it is certainly the right moment to ponder upon the fundamentals of our shared Italian identity and what makes it one and the same for us all, especially after the ideological battles fought over Columbus Day. If Italy must question itself on the matter and make the effort to find answers that go beyond political agendas, the same should be done within our own Italian-American communities. With two considerations to keep in mind: the first being that our old "Little Italies" - fortified, self sufficient, walled enclosures - no longer exist and should not be an example to follow anyway, as they are bound to become extinct. The second being that evolution, change, openness, osmosis are all natural and unstoppable phenomena. In other words, Italian-American communities should take advantage of this month to understand what truly characterizes them, what makes them stand together and what will make them last in the mind of the next generations. They should understand what unifies them from within, rather than what protects them from external "attacks," as in the case of all those Columbus statues to move. Similarly, Italians (all Italians, regardless to where they live or what is written on their ID cards) should think about their "carattere nazionale," their national identity. The art of make do with little, the centrality of the family, creativity are qualities that do not require belonging to a given ideal, a shared memory or embracing specific civic principles. They rather define a flexible frame where each one of us can place his or her definition of identity. By the way, which one is yours? Simone Schiavinato, Director NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS

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