The following letter, written by Thomas A. Gentile in response to a 2002 New York Times story on changes in Bensonhurst’s ethnic makeup – a demographic shift that back then had just begun – is, in many ways, still relevant today.
Gentile manages to touch on themes of ethnicity, race, as well as traditional ethnic stereotypes – subjects that continue to dominate discussions all around us, from neighborhood stoops to the comment section of this site.
From the NY Times:
To the Editor:
As an Italian-American native of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, who often grapples with issues of class and ethnicity, I applaud your portrayal of Bensonhurst, which resists the tired stereotype of Bensonhurst residents as the product of an intrinsically racist Italian-American culture (”Well, the Ices Are Still Italian; Immigration Patterns Shift, Altering the Old Neighborhood,” news article, Sept. 17).
Mobile Italian-American professionals, and those who choose to remain in traditional neighborhoods while adapting to today’s changes, each in their own way defy the negative stereotypes that continue to plague Italian-Americans.
THOMAS A. GENTILE
New York, Sept. 18, 2002
The writer is a lawyer.
*We figured naming this Quote of the Day or Quote of the Week might be too ambitious.