August 23, 2007 — Vol. 43, No. 2
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Questions aside, Barack’s heritage a source of strength

As I read the News Digest item “Obama’s wife decries blackness question” in the Aug. 16, 2007 edition of the Banner, I thought about baseball legend Roy Campanella, who played in the old Negro Leagues before joining the Brooklyn Dodgers. Like Barack Obama, Campanella was multiracial, having a black mother and an Italian father.

When it was time for the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame to select its all-time Italian American baseball team, Campanella was selected along with Yogi Berra to be a catcher on the team. Evidently, he passed the test of “Was he Italian enough?”

Today we have a candidate running for president named Barack Obama whose mother was white and whose father was Kenyan. His wife Michelle Obama recently admonished those who question her husband’s credentials as a black man. She called it “nonsense.”

We should be caring less about his blackness and more about his character — more about his positions on public policy that qualify him for the presidency.

I’m sure when Obama awakens every morning and looks in a mirror, he sees himself and no one else’s view of him.

I am Irish, Italian and Catholic. Most people just see me as an Italian American, but with grandparents from Sicily and grandparents from West Cork, I am proud of my dual ethnic heritage. I don’t choose sides; I’m just me.

My late brother saw himself as more Italian. He could converse in Italian, and he listened to Italian CDs while driving his car. I, on the other hand, always listen to the Irish Hit Parade every weekend on WROL.

We both always joked about that, and the fact that he’d gone to Italy on vacation while I went to Ireland.

Our dual ethnic heritage was a strength for us. We appreciated both sides equally, and were proud to be both. Our parents always taught us to be proud of our Sicilian and Irish roots.
I’m sure Obama isn’t worried about how black he appears to some. He is a stronger candidate for his mixed roots. He is an American, proud of his parents and what each of them represented, what each of them gave him. He has his identity, and it isn’t controlled by what others may think.

As an American of both Irish and Sicilian heritage, I am neither one nor the other, but both — and proud.

Sal Giarratani
North Quincy

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