The Best WritersDISCUSSION Notes Project 2Sociologists maintain that reality is socially constructed. That is, the world we live in with others is not essential or given. Rather, it is created (and learned) through our interactions with one another. Even reality that is not inherently social that is natural is (re)made in accordance with social meaning. Thus, natural landscapes are turned into cities; Central Park was designed by the landscape architect Olmstead. Although the human body has species-distinctive biological dimensions, it is subject to cultural interpretations that assign social value (e.g., what constitutes beauty). Similarly, biological sex being born “male” or “female” is assigned cultural meanings; gender masculinity and femininity is socially constructed, elaborating on the biological fact of sex.Following Cornell and Hartmann, a social constructionist perspective on ethnicity focuses on the way groups “construct” ethnicity in specific social sites under particular circumstances. A classic statement is found in Cornell and Hartmann (2007: 90):The constructionist approach, then, sees ethnic and racial identities as highly variable and contingent products of ongoing interaction between, on one hand, the circumstances groups encounter including the conceptions and actions of outsiders and, on the other, the actions and conceptions of group members of insiders. It makes groups active agents in the making and remaking of their own identities, and it views construction not as a one-time event, but as continuous and historical. The construction of identity has no end point short of the disappearance of the identity altogether.Cornell and Hartmann (Ibid: xvii) emphasize that ethnicity is constructed by groups “trying to solve problems, defend or enhance their positions…establish meaning, achieve understanding, or otherwise negotiate the world in which they live”. They add that this includes the creation of “institutions” or “sets of relationships” committed to instrumental and expressive purposes (Ibid xvii). A constructionist perspective is further elaborated in the work of Joanne Nagel (2017:5). Nagel (Ibid. 6) addresses the possibility of ethnic change by adopting Frederik Barth’s emphasis on “boundaries” which is “closely associated” with the issue of ethnic “identity”, as “two of the basic building blocks of ethnicity” that are subject not only to construction but “reconstruction”. Nagel points out that ethnic boundaries are able to enclose “mutable” cultural content that is “borrowed, blended, rediscovered, and reinterpreted” (12). Nagel (10) underscores Cornell and Hartmann’s point that the social construction of ethnicity is not unilateral but “transacted” across boundaries that reflect rational choices and differences in social power in the competition for scarce rewards and the establishment of “resource niches”.This project asks you to find ethnicity “under construction” in social “sites” that make up the core of our everyday lives:1) the family, extended as well as nuclear2) the age-based peer group3) the neighborhood or local community4) dating and marriage “markets” where individuals and groups negotiate the value of interpersonal relationships.Ethnicity, as we have defined it, routinely happens in these social sites. You will be investigating the way ethnicity is bound up with relationships between individuals and within groups and, therefore, the way it defines a boundary or “credential” of “affiliation”, such as gaining acceptance for residence in a particular neighborhood or to date and, especially, to marry someone and gain entry to their family as an in-law. From this perspective, ethnicity defines a connection to others both to those who share an ethnicity and those who do not (i.e., “us” and “them”).Your task in this project is to show this by focusing on social interactions what people do when they come together as family, peers, neighbors, and to date and marry. You will be looking for cultural patterns or repertoires that symbolize this ethnic identity in contradistinction to others such as the Sunday afternoon family meal for Italian Americans. See this link to a news conference in which Governor Cuomo waxed nostalgic about Sunday (afternoon) family “spaghetti dinners”, and how he feels derelict in his duty toward his mother early in the pandemic (this may have led Cuomo to arrange a large family gathering for his mother at Thanksgiving for which he was roundly criticized). This is not a stereotype; it is integral to a shared ethnic culture and, therefore, culturally coded for Italian Americans who can immediately and implicitly recognize these symbols as the epitome of their ethnic group identity:You will be looking for ethnicity that is “constructed” through discourse recurrent conversations that are purposive or intended to create a consciousness of “who we are”. The social construction of reality is the focus of a theoretical perspective known as “symbolic interactionism” which posits that human beings create their worlds by creating and sharing meanings. Language, storytelling in particular, is at the heart of this process.See the video clip for the PBS video “Our Contributions: The Italians in America” The narrator of the video asserts that being Italian (American) is made in the family. Recalling his youth, he calls attention to certain repertoires that made Italians “different” from “the Americans” gardens with tomatoes and arugula, simmering pots of tomato sauce on Sunday, large family gatherings, and above all, “grandmas” that “we lived with”. Despite a nod to multiculturalism, it is easy to read between the lines that these cultural practices made them “better” as well sentiments that are characterized as “ethnocentrism”. In your research, pay attention to these symbolic repertoires and the discourse that identifies them with ethnic distinction. Ethnicity is often constructed as invidious distinction in the language of superiority (“us”) and inferiority (“them”).See the use of DNA in the online genealogy by Henry Louis Gates, “Finding Your Roots: Decoding Our Past” The celebrities that comprise Gates’ cases in “African American Lives” all have genealogies that are rooted in southern slavery and caste.See the article by Evan Nicole Brown (10.19.20) on Black family reunions in the time of Covid 19.The article focuses on voting rights as an ethnic issue that mobilizes family reunions in the South. Here is an excerpt:Bettie Griggs, a retiree in Los Angeles, was 12 years old and living in Louisiana when her mother received her first voter registration card in the mail. It was 1965.“I can still recall the joy that she had,” Ms. Griggs said. “I can recall seeing that the card was actually stamped ‘illiterate’ and thinking, ‘Oh my God, they stamped her card illiterate.’”The long history of voter disenfranchisement in the United States is a central theme that guides Ms. Griggs’s family reunions, held every other year in Shreveport, La.That is because in the African-American family tradition, reunions frequently act as opportunities for political organizing, with older generations emphasizing to younger family members the importance of registering to vote. Save the church, Black families have often lacked designated spaces — public, and wholly their own — where they can be immersed in community. Much like services on Sundays, reunions are rituals that give families an occasion to come together and share political wisdom and oral histories.“In key ways, the intersection of politics and the traditional Black family reunion kind of go hand in hand,” said Benson Cooke, a professor of counseling and psychology at the University of the District of Columbia and a former national president of the Association of Black Psychologists. “We had to overcome what had been broken in us. In other words, we had to find the type of space for the old to share cultural memories that aid in the cultural repair for our youth, enhancing a knowledge and awareness of who we are.”In Ms. Griggs’s family, that has translated into an effort she leads called the . Informed by the sacrifices that previous generations of the family made to be able to exercise the right to vote, Ms. Griggs uses the family’s newsletter to record family history and mark progress in real time. This includes published interviews conducted between members of the family history team and relatives of all ages, who share their voting experiences and political views.The study of genealogy sheds light on the way families construct ethnicity (referenced to nationality, religion, and race) in assigning names to individual members. Children are named into the family and, thereby, positioned into its ethnic culture; their names tell them that they are members of a family and an ethnic group. Ethnicity can be read into first names as well as surnames.Constructing Ethnicity through FoodwaysWhat we eat, how we eat, and who we eat with are fundamentally cultural. It is no surprise that foodways is at the heart of ethnicity. For a look at the use of food to construct African American ethnicity, see “Celebrating the Fish Fry, a Late Summer Black Tradition”, Korsha Wilson, NYT (9.11.18).The celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson has done a terrific documentary on the relationship of food to the ethnicity of Guyanese Americans in Queens. Samuelsson shows people making and eating and talking about their food in the company of others who share this identity and culture. Also see for other ethnic traditions at this NYT article on the relationship between food and Haitian identity. ”With a Fortifying Soup, Haitians Shar Their Pride in Independence”, Priya Krishna (12.29.20)Keep in mind the way that tastes cultivated in the family create social divisions. Whereas individuals and groups that have similar tastes can sit down together, this is inhibited by divergent tastes. For a more general understanding into the relationship between food and ethnic identity see “Ethnicity, Ethnic Identity and Food” by Farha Ternikar, Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics, 2014See this article below for how food and its connection to the family can reconcile ethnicity with social identities that are historically incompatible. In this case, being Persian and being gay.I’ve never felt Persian enough. My hometown in Southern California, which holds one of the largest populations of Iranians outside of Iran, is only 30 miles northwest of Persian Square, or “Tehrangeles,” a subsect of West Los Angeles concentrated with Iranian markets and storefronts. Still, the surrounding area was largely white. As hard as my parents tried to immerse me in the culture they knew best, I didn’t care much about embracing my roots as an adolescent. And I’m paying the price for it today.My Farsi is terrible. I’ve never been to Iran. I don’t know much about the pre-revolution Iran my parents lived in before they defected to the United States. And, above all, I can’t cook rice.Maybe I shouldn’t say “can’t.” I just can’t cook it well. Rice is a fickle grain, and it doesn’t matter if it’s berenj imported from Mazandaran or brown rice from the supermarket. It all turns out the same when I’m dealing with it: the bottom of the pot scorched while the rest is mushy, somehow both burned and undercooked.It’s ironic that I can’t make rice because I cook and bake a lot. I’ve been known to dry-brine individual Cornish hens for 48 hours, or spend weeks planning and preparing a holiday dinner for 10 by myself. Even when I get the munchies, I’ll slice russet potatoes into sticks and soak them in water and pat them dry and fry them twice instead of ordering from the bodega. I like to think I can make anything better from scratch.Except for rice.The correlation between my identity and cooking rice would seem arbitrary if rice weren’t the backbone of Persian cuisine. But it’s served with everything — either on its own, or on the side, ba tadig. Whenever a recipe calls for it, I’ll substitute it for the vastly inferior microwavable variety. Still, Persian rice, or polo, can’t be replicated in the microwave (if someone has managed to passably do so, please let me know). Polo’s pillowy texture is achieved through multiple steps: rinsing the basmati rice before and after boiling, layering lavash or oil for tadig, sprinkling saffron powder on top, and securing the lid with a damkesh. This is all before flipping the pot upside down to reveal a shell of crispy tadig enveloping the fluffy interior of rice. Polo is both a side dish and the centerpiece. It’s the common denominator that brings food and family together.Some of my earliest memories are of my mom’s mom, my madar-joon, preparing a feast for our immediate and extended family. It wasn’t uncommon for her to cook for 100 people when only 40 or 50 were expected. The smell of white fish fried in oil clung to the air as strongly as the Yves St. Laurent perfume she’d buy on sale from Marshalls. I’ve always been fascinated with cooking, and I lingered by the kitchen while the other matriarchs chopped and sliced and seared and simmered ingredients in an assembly line. I wasn’t allowed to help as a boy — none of the men were. So instead I watched them from a distance, memorizing the way they held their knives to dice onions or the exact time to add the minced greens for sabzi polo. It was like they were solving jigsaw puzzles, putting different-sized pieces together to make a finished product.Besides my madar-joon, I grew up without many role models to admire. I knew early in life that I was gay, and perhaps that’s why I pushed this culture away before it could push me. When I finally came out to my parents, with whom I often clashed, I wasn’t surprised by their reaction. I wasn’t so much ostracized as I was constantly chided for my shortcomings. I was “too femme,” “not masculine enough,” or “too Americanized.”None of these epithets were true, especially the last one. As hard as I tried, I struggled to find my footing as an Iranian American living in a post-9/11 world. Straddling two worlds becomes exhausting — pointless, even — when you can’t find your balance. Coming of age in separate environments that both invalidate your existence is demoralizing, and I was left without a core to support myself.I’ve still made the necessary family appearances in my adult life. I returned home for Iranian holidays or weddings or birthday parties begrudgingly but without question. Even when I moved to New York City two years ago, I made plans to fly home for Nowruz — the Persian New Year — the following year. Then the first Covid-19 lockdown went into effect two weeks before my flight.I didn’t make a big deal of it at first. Like a lot of people, I naïvely assumed life would return to normal in a month or so. But it didn’t. When one month became six, I lost my full-time job and most of my freelance work. Unable to leave the house, my passion for cooking took on a life of its own. I made cakes and bread and stews and tarts and Wellingtons and Linzers to pass the time. When my usual recipes became stale and the loneliness that weighed on me grew heavier with each day in isolation, I decided to begin experimenting with Persian cooking. It felt like the right time. And my first project would be polo ba tadig.Nearly all traditional Persian recipes involve lengthy steps. Khoresh, a kind of Persian stew, is notoriously time-consuming. The ingredients and spices need to simmer for hours to break down and develop flavor. The technique is similar to an English stew or bœuf bourguignon, which are also labor-intensive. However, neither of those are plated with polo ba tahdig, and serving khoresh without polo is sacrilegious. That would be like serving bolognese without pasta. Despite my unlimited free time to test and perfect polo to my madar-joon’s standards, I realized I needed a shortcut. So I bought a rice cooker.I remember my madar-joon sometimes using a Persian rice cooker to cook for smaller groups. Unlike other rice cookers, Persian ones regulate temperature to produce crunchy tadig without burning the rice. There weren’t any Persian markets near me, nor are these rice cookers easily found online. I eventually found one directly from the manufacturer’s website. I bought a Pars 4-cup cooker for $58.99, thinking it was the same size as my madar-joon’s. When it arrived, it looked about half as big.Instead of exchanging it for a larger one, I decided that it was probably smarter to start small. I bought a few bags of basmati rice from the supermarket, enough for four or five batches of polo and tadig. I put on my apron like a lab coat and prepared for a long night.I used what looked like the easiest recipe online, which I studied so intensely that I memorized it before I began cooking. I rinsed and re-rinsed the berenj to remove the starch. I boiled and rinsed it again before laying the oil for tadig. I used a yogurt and turmeric (to substitute saffron) mix for the tadig for a softer brittle, as recommended by the recipe. And I used an old dish towel as a damkesh. Everything was going accordingly, but the real test was flipping the pot onto a plate at the end. I would only be pleased if the tadig released easily, didn’t break, and wasn’t burned. It was literally a make-or-break moment.I held my breath as I flipped it onto the plate using oven mitts. I lifted the pot to reveal a flawless dome of tadig with an even deep-orange color. As I cut into it like a cake, plumes of steam billowed from the fluffy polo. I got it perfect on the first try. And I cried.This successful polo attempt roused me to recreate my favorite recipes, like fesenjoon and tachin. I traveled to Syosset and Great Neck, which are densely populated with Iranian immigrants, to find the ingredients I needed. The markets overwhelmed me with gems from my childhood: the gaz my dad used to eat that clung to his molars, or the brand of lavashak aloo that made my mom’s face scrunch from sourness. I found pistachios imported from Kerman, and rosewater from Isfahan. I asked a shop clerk, in my dustiest Farsi, the prices per pound or about the saffron guarded beneath glass. As I was checking out, I noticed a row of Pars Rice Cookers in several sizes behind the register, including the one my madar-joon used. I knew I’d be back soon to buy the bigger one.I may not be able to read the Persian alphabet or know much about my family’s history, but I can tell you which khoresh and gusht is served on what holiday, or the correct rice-to-yogurt-to-saffron ratio for tachin. Cooking isn’t just a pastime for me — it’s integral to my character. I used to feel that my failure to make good polo further invalidated my already broken “Persian-ness” so I avoided it altogether. The rice cooker didn’t fully bridge the gap between my love of cooking and Persian identity. But they’re no longer mutually exclusive.“The Best $59 I Ever Spent: A Rice Cooker That Connected Me To My Roots”, Arya Rosharian, Vox (3.2.21).____“’I Smell You…’: Ethnic Smells and Olfactory Assimilation”In this article by Masako Fukui, ethnicity is seen as constructed from the “smells” emanating from the cultural activities of cooking and eating. The home is the preeminent social space for the construction of “ethnic smells”.The first time I became aware of my ‘ethnic smell’ was when I was eight years old. As I sat down next to my best friend on the school bus one morning, she slammed both hands over her nose in disgust and sneered, ‘yuck, you smell like fish.’I had just ingested a typical Japanese breakfast of rice, miso soup with bonito stock, and grilled salted mackerel. I realised then that I could hide the foods I eat, but not the way they make me smell.The ‘smelly migrant’ is the most subversive of all migrants. Societies, including Australia, have ways of controlling the practice of other cultures, languages, customs or religions, but bodily odours just can’t be contained.They ooze out of our pores as invisible particles, detected only by the odorant receptors in the nasal cavity. And by the time the receptors have signaled the brain’s olfactory cortex to register ‘yuck’, my immigrant bodily emissions have already penetrated your body, invaded you.It’s no coincidence then that fear of ‘the other’ is often expressed as odour based slurs. Societies often denigrate the foods of newcomers as stinky and revolting. And in Medieval Europe, there was a common belief that Jewish bodies gave off an unpleasant stench, or foetor Judaicus.If smelly bodies are subversive, so too are our reactions to them. After all, it’s virtually impossible to control our immediate responses to pungent odours. There’s also an anatomical explanation for this.Other senses are seated in the neo-cortex or the higher brain, while the sensory recognition of odours is processed partly in the limbic system or the lower brain—the site of emotion and memory. So whatever is tickling the nose hairs has a direct line to the sub-verbal, animalistic self.Philosopher Immanuel Kant categorised this perception of smell or olfaction as the most ignoble of senses, animalistic, ‘fleeting and transitory’, not worthy of cultivation and not easily defined. And it’s exactly the amorphous nature of smell that makes it so powerful, and political.For when those odours that repel us are associated with race, the disgust we instinctively sense undermines our attempts to overcome racial prejudices.For the migrant who feels displaced from their homeland, foods that olfactorily offend may play an important role in reinforcing identity, says researcher De Souza. She recounts how cooking and eating a beautiful curry is akin to ‘putting lotion on the part of me that feels dislocated, lonely, and isolated.‘ But that same curry can reek of spices that ultimately isolate her by making her olfactorily different, even invoking disgust.The result is a kind of ethnic shame that further reinforces just how out of place a fragrant migrant body really is. In other words, what migrants ingest in order to maintain their identities in the host country can be the thing that viscerally sets them apart.So is there such a thing as olfactory assimilation? Can kimchi breathing Koreans or cumin flavoured Indians ever be rendered acceptably odourless? If I vow to never again revel in my daikon burps, will I feel more Australian?De Souza thinks not. In her view, attempting nutritional assimilation and sanitisation to become odourless rarely leads to a deeper, thicker sense of belonging. Like citizenship, that belonging feels ‘thin when compared to the affective power of ethnic identity,’ she claims.____________For a look at how nonwhite racial and ethnic identities are “constructed” in the family, see the case of Kamala Harris in the article “Black Like Kamala”, Jamelle Bouie, NYT (8.14.20). Harris was born in 1965. Her mother was South Asian Indian and her father was Jamaican. Note the options that become available when parents present different ancestries and, also, how this is constrained in the United States.See this NYT article for the way ethnicity can be imprinted or “read” into the family home. In this case, there are financial implications:Abena and Alex Horton wanted to take advantage of low home-refinance rates brought on by the coronavirus crisis. So in June, they took the first step in that process, welcoming a home appraiser into their four-bedroom, four-bath ranch-style house in Jacksonville, Fla.The Hortons live just minutes from the Ortega River, in a predominantly white neighborhood of 1950s homes that tend to sell for $350,000 to $550,000. They had expected their home to appraise for around $450,000, but the appraiser felt differently, assigning a value of $330,000. Ms. Horton, who is Black, immediately suspected discrimination.The couple’s bank agreed that the value was off and ordered a second appraisal. But before the new appraiser could arrive, Ms. Horton, a lawyer, began an experiment: She took all family photos off the mantle. Instead, she hung up a series of oil paintings of Mr. Horton, who is white, and his grandparents that had been in storage. Books by Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison were taken off the shelves, and holiday photo cards sent by friends were edited so that only those showing white families were left on display. On the day of the appraisal, Ms. Horton took the couple’s 6-year-old son on a shopping trip to Target, and left Mr. Horton alone at home to answer the door.The new appraiser gave their home a value of $465,000 — a more than 40 percent increase from the first appraisal.“Black Homeowners Face Discrimination in Appraisals”, Debra Kamin, NYT (8.27.20)You are asked to do empirical research for this project. This means that you have to collect real-world data. But, this means that you can study your own social worlds. The research may present certain logistical problems. However, you remain embedded in these social worlds. In many respects, the way these worlds operate have been clearly revealed in the present crisis. When you reflect on who you are sheltering in place with, does this have an ethnic dimension? How about the “culture” you create, or construct”, when you shelter in place? I am seeing online memes about Italian Americans “sheltering in place” that revolve around ethnic themes, both stereotypes and generalizations, such as basements stocked with food. If you are short on generating your own data, you can use video.The Samuelsson documentary on the Guyanese of Queens is very useful as an example of ethnicity “under construction” in the neighborhood, in this case Richmond Hills. Given his interest in food, the film highlights ethnic restaurants but also a Hindu temple and a local cricket league, which not surprisingly involve food (i.e., communal eating) as well. Also see ethnicity under construction at the level of the neighborhood in Michael Kimmelman’s, “Jackson Heights, Global Town Square” in the New York Times Also see Frederick Wiseman’s cinema verité documentary, “Jackson Heights”, which is representative of Queens as the most ethnically diverse county in the US. It is available on Kanopy.Another section of Queens, Breezy Point, has been identified for several generations as Irish American (“The Irish Riviera”) and white, more recently expressing loyalty to Trump to make New York City, as well as the United States, “great again”. See this NYT article by Corey Kilgannon (10.20.20):Like most of their neighbors in their predominantly white, middle-class community, the Deacys voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, and enthusiastically intend to do so again on Nov. 3. But the Deacys do not live in a solidly red state.They occupy an unusual slice of Trump country in New York City — Breezy Point, a private beach community in Queens where residents enjoy glimpses of the Manhattan skyline and display banners with slogans like, “Yes, I’m a Trump girl. Get over it!”The community has long been home to police officers, firefighters and other first-responders, many of whom own modest houses that have been in their families for generations. They embrace Mr. Trump, who hails from a wealthier part of the borough, and hold fast to local traditions that include conservative politics and outspoken support for the police and the military.Their fealty to the president stems in part from a prevalent view that the city outside their gates is being driven into the ground by hopelessly progressive Democrats under whose leadership crime is rising and respect for law enforcement is dropping. The enclave has few residents of color, and skepticism of the Black Lives Matter movement is widespread.While Mr. Trump’s claim that New York City has fallen prey to anarchy may be greeted with scorn by many New Yorkers, it resonates in Breezy Point.The few liberals in the community say they love the gorgeous setting, but can grow weary of an insularity that at times has provoked claims of hostility to outsiders or even prejudice. Still, residents like the Deacys, who are both retired from the New York Police Department and have lived in Breezy Point since 1984, said they were disgusted with New York’s leadership. The Deacys said they would likely move to Florida soon for this very reason.Breezy Point is a private community, with roughly 2,800 homes on land managed by a cooperative that also furnishes services typically provided by the city. In the 2016 presidential election, Mr. Trump garnered 77.5 percent of the vote in Breezy Point. Hillary Clinton swept the city overall with 78.4 percent.A short drive away in Queens — perhaps the most ethnically diverse place in the nation, if not the world — are predominantly Black Democratic strongholds areas where Mr. Trump received less than 5 percent of the vote in 2016.In a city where a majority of residents are people of color, the two-square-mile Breezy Point remains 92 percent white. Locals refer to it as the “Irish Riviera” because 62 percent of residents claim all or partly Irish ancestry.The enclave has its own security force and prides itself on the kind of resilience and self-sufficiency on full display after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which killed more than 30 Breezy Pointers, many of them firefighters, and after , which in 2012  about 350 houses and damaged hundreds more.Other areas of the city voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Trump in 2016. In Staten Island, he won a majority of the vote; in some Orthodox Jewish sections of Brooklyn, he topped 80 percent.The Breezy Point cooperative has rules about home sales that can make it difficult for outsiders to become homeowners. Prospective buyers have to put at least 50 percent down in cash, and get recommendations from three residents and approval by its board, residents said.The requirements have helped solidify the feel of the community. Many houses are passed down in families for generations or sold to neighbors.Breezy Point has often kept a low profile, but this summer its political leanings became more visible thanks to banners towed by planes above city beaches in the Rockaways.“Rockaway and Breezy Pt Support the NYPD,” read  which was paid for by local community fund-raising and caused division in the Rockaways, an oceanfront section of Queens that has become increasingly popular with more liberal newcomers.While some locals cheered the banner, others  as a divisive attack on the Black Lives Matter movement, whose demonstrations across New York City helped galvanize support in Breezy Point for Mr. Trump.Of course, the banners are seen by relatively few outsiders, since access to Breezy Point is largely restricted to residents and their guests, and is protected by a private security force, a front gate and electronic security gates that restrict local streets and parking lots.People who wander in are often spotted quickly by residents as outsiders and told to leave by security.Those gates reflect a stark divide, acknowledged Mr. Turner, the former congressman. He said that if he put a Trump bumper sticker on his car, it might attract vandals in other parts of the city, but would be left untouched in Breezy Point.“I don’t know if there’s a lot of other neighborhoods in New York where that exists,” he said.Likewise, Mr. Danese, the police officer, said he would not wear his Blue Lives Matter T-shirt in many parts of the city.“If you openly advertise that you support Trump, it puts a bull’s-eye on you,” he said.“A Gated Community in NYC Where Trump Flags Fly High” (10.20.20)My published research on Italian Americans in New York City can be useful for this project. Check out 2 papers, “Guido: The Fashioning of an Italian American Youth Subculture” and “Bellas and Fellas in Cyberspace” for the construction of ethnicity in the peer group. The peer group becomes the locus for dating and marriage “markets” in modern societies, reflecting a shift from the role of families in “arranged marriages”; although couples in modern societies “marry love”, mate selection tends to involve individuals who are the “right strangers” (i.e., culturally compatible). See chapters of my book, The Italians of Greenwich Village, for a discussion that touches on all of these “construction sites”. These publications are hyperlinked on my college web page. For free access to “The Italians of Greenwich Village” you can also click on this link:Below you will find excerpts from from a chapter that I wrote for a recently published book: “Italian Americans in the Suburbs: Transplanting Ethnicity to the Crabgrass Frontier”, The Routledge History of the Italian Americans, edited by Wm. Connell and S. Pugliese, Routledge (2017).The Italian American House“Bellas and Fellas in Cyberspace: Mobilizing Italian Ethnicity for Online Youth Culture”, D. Tricarico, Italian American Review (Winter).You can also watch this “throwback” lecture that I delivered at QCC in March 2011 “Not the Usual Ethnic Subjects: The Significance of Guido for Italian American Studies” Presidential Lecture, QCC_____________For a riveting historical look into the role of youth popular culture in the construction of ethnicity see “Zoot Suit Riots”, ChicanoHipHopCulture The video portrays the fraught experience of Mexican Americans in Los Angeles during World War Two, with a focus on the “zoot suit” youth culture that originated among African Americans and was centered on American jazz music; my father and uncles, growing up in Italian neighborhoods in Manhattan at this time, also wore zoot suits when they patronized jazz clubs in the city. The adoption of zoot suits was part of the turn to popular American jazz culture by Mexican American youth. Mexican American ethnicity is interesting because it is framed by a geography of annexation; in other words, persons of Mexican ancestry became incorporated into the U.S. when the southwestern United States was won from Mexico in war. The “Zoot Suit Riots” portrays Mexican Americans as a racialized minority group that was aggressively policed into a marginalized status.The peer group is often the site for constructing a “new ethnicity” which is also known as “pan ethnicity”. This refers to an ethnic category constructed in the 2d and 3d generations. Youth, for example, recognize that they are more assimilated than their immigrant parents’ generation while, at the same time, not assimilated into the larger society. “New ethnicity” often entails a submerged nationality identity within a more inclusive (“pan”) category. In the U.S., new ethnicities are characteristically racialized, signifying the construction of a new minority group status. Examples of “new ethnicities” are the categories “Latino”, “Asian”, “South Asian”, Caribbean, and West Indian. Note that the nationality identities brought by the immigrant generation is subsumed in these broader, more inclusive categories that share cultural similarities (e.g., Latinos speak Spanish and are predominantly Catholic while West Indians speak English and are predominantly Protestant) and social status. This marks the emergence of a generational difference within the family and community.______Crossing Ethnic Boundaries and New EthnicityBoundaries are important for ethnic groups because they determine who is included and excluded. Questions #5 and #6 raise issues about boundary crossing. For example, what are the outcomes of ethnic intermarriage, residence in diverse neighborhoods, or ethnically mixed friendships. While there is the possibility of muted identification, ethnic difference may be thrown into greater relief.Question #6 allows for the possibility that boundary crossing may result in the construction of a “new ethnicity” such as Latino, Caribbean, Desi? These pan-ethnicities take hold among the second generation in immigrant communities. In contrast to parents and grandparents, the second generation is less identified with the home country while it builds an identification based on “new” ethnic categories organized around race or religion. Following Cornell and Hartmann, these identity changes are transacted with others who erase or blur ethnic distinctions, thus lumping different groups together. Neighborhoods and peer group culture are prominent “construction sites” for “new ethnicities”. These are sites where shared cultural experiences proliferate for the new second generation.See the article below for a consideration of Latino identity/culture as “new ethnicity”. Pay attention to the markers of this “new ethnicity”, namely a shared culture and skin color that makes sense not only in terms of historical origins (e.g., Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic) but the “new” American context including the way these groups are perceived in this country. The discussion below was galvanized by the release of the popular movie, “In the Heights”.This summer’s controversy over the underrepresentation of dark-skinned Afro-Latinos in “In the Heights,” the Hollywood adaptation of the Broadway musical, laid bare the cancer of colorism in Latinx communities in the United States. The reckoning was long overdue, a pain that goes back as long as our community has existed. And the mainstream media was enraptured. It created what I think of as the spectacle — el espectáculo. I haven’t seen as high a demand for Latinx voices since the Pulse shooting.“Latinidad” is the shared language, childhood references, music, food, inside jokes and idiosyncratic TV Spanglish among the Latinx in this country. It is the sameness that unites us no matter where we grow up, and no matter where our parents were from. But the idea of sameness can devastate as much as it can connect. An open wound in this world of Latinx has been the shame around darkness, our own and that of our family and neighbors and compatriots. According to media by us or for us, dark-skinned Afro-Latinos do not exist and if they do, they aren’t Latino. Not really.Some seem to derive schadenfreude from our colorism problem, while others with a platform use it to accrue social capital when we call it out. It’s the kind of performative racial conversation that allows Americans to proclaim how antiracist they are while they continue to gentrify our neighborhoods and hide the fact that they get paid more than their Black or Latina co-worker.The main issue we are asked to write about, other than the border crisis, is the issue of anti-Blackness in our community. When interviewers have asked me what Latinidad means to me, I fumble. For many people, I am a representative of undocumented, brown Latinidad, but my Latinidad is complicated, and it is personal. That space of always wondering — of constantly creating a version of myself that incorporates my race, ethnicity, nationality, migration to America, education and all the rest of my history — is my Latinidad.Latinidad isn’t a race, and you can be Latinx and be of any ethnicity. And we are still talking about and around Mestizaje — a race that doesn’t exist in the racial binary of white and Black in the United States. Lately I’ve caught myself comparing the skin color of Latinx artists in my movies and on my dust jackets with ugly feelings, looking at their eyes and lips and cheekbones and noses and jaws, looking for tells of ancestry, assuming deception and theft.There are the reckonings we have among ourselves, and they are messy, loud and deeply specific; they are conversations that are nuanced, containing not only facts, but embodied, familial and community knowledge. They are probably not conversations we are having for the first time, and probably not the first time they have brought many of us to tears. Anti-Blackness in the Latinx world causes those of us with skin in the game deep pain. As a brown artist I am only consumable by American audiences when I write about extreme suffering. I suggest that we interrogate within ourselves what our personal and professional stakes are in this conversation.I think of the, colonial-era paintings depicting the interethnic mixing among Europeans, Indigenous peoples, Africans and the existing mixed-race population in the New World. The paintings typically depict a man, woman and child, arranged according to a hierarchy of race and status, and denote the racial mixing that has occurred. A taxonomic atrocity where the child of a Spaniard father and albino mother is labeled torna atrás, or “return backward,” while an Indigenous couple and their child are considered Indios mecos bárbaros, or barbarian Indians. The race of mestizos, a mix of white and Indigenous, is something that allows people to talk about citizenship without naming it. Our ancestral caste system is created by a recognition of race that is so obsessed with blood quantum and phenotype that it becomes eugenicist.It’s true that some people hear Latino and think of Ricky Martin, but others think of job-stealing Mexicans — a different binary altogether, of citizen and alien. Campesino means peasant in Latin American Spanish, but it is a word that signals race as much as it does class. You can call someone a campesino as a slur to mean they look Indigenous, but not Indigenous enough to be romanticized as a noble savage, just Indigenous enough to be barred access to cultural and economic capital. These categories unify even as they divide: A Latino is a Mexican is a campesino is an indio is an illegal.I cherish being a mixed-race person. Some of my mestizo family’s most ingrained traditions come from the Black Caribbean, like the salsa from Joe Arroyo, whose songs kept my head held high when I felt shame as an undocumented student at Harvard. We sometimes speak Quechua at home, especially to describe good or bad feelings in the body that don’t have words in English or Spanish. But I am not Black and I am not native. I have had to decide for myself what is a respectful enactment of my culture and what might be romanticization of ancestors I don’t know. What is an authentic expression of my culture and what is appropriation? It takes deep personal reflection. It takes education.What was once Latin culture in New York, what was once Spanish culture in New York, has meant growing up mixed-race alongside mixed races. People on the ground — from organizers of racial justice movements and day laborer centers to gangs in  and  — have all placed deep emphasis on intersectionality and coalition-building. When we tear down what is rotten, we must build something new in its stead — we must support those on the ground dedicated to educating and organizing.I moved from Ecuador to Brooklyn and then to Queens. In my neighborhood, nobody looked the same, and we shared common enemies — landlords, I.C.E., the cops, the blackouts, Giuliani, the new young white people who drove up rents. I feel that kinship with other Latinos, with immigrants, with Black people, with Asian people, because they were my neighbors. We shared the fire hydrants in the summer. We needed each other to make a life worth living for ourselves.We share nutrients through our roots deep under the forest soil. We warn each other about encroaching dangers, and reach for the same piece of sky. Together, we must protect the saplings in the parts of the forest where sunlight does not reach, whose majesty is not visible to those just passing through. The goal, I think, is to stand strong and reliable, to stay alive ourselves and keep the others alive. And above all, send sweetness and strength to those who do not yet reach the sun themselves.“The Spectacle of Latinx Colorism”, K. Cornejo Villavicencio, NYT (7.30.2021)._______________