Mr. Robert J. DiBiase, Chair
We live in a state with over two million Italian descendants of Italian immigrants! We belong to over 400 organizations that celebrate our heritage, our culture, our families, our lifestyles - all carried forward to us from our beloved ancestors who helped build this great country with a strong work ethic and commitment to excellence.
In light of the relentless negative stereotyping that we face every day in various outlets, it is essential for us to start portraying the truth of our Italian experience. If we truly wish to stop the attacks on our integrity and our proud heritage - then we must make society aware of what we bring to the table now and what we have contributed in the past. The constant portrayal of Italians as gangsters or buffoons must stop - and no one can do it but us, especially if the status quo keeps making money for the entertainment industry.
This commission - officially named the New Jersey Commission on Italian and Americans of Italian Heritage Cultural and Educational Programs - is housed in the Department of Education, with offices at Rutgers University. Its mission is to preserve and promote Italian Heritage through educational programs, and to combat the negative stereotypes of Italians and Italian Americans in the media. You may know us as "The Italian - Italian American Heritage Commission."
Please visit our website (njitalia.nj.gov) to find a wealth of information about our accomplishments and our plans to continue the mission of ridding ourselves of the last acceptable forms of bias in America.
While browsing through the website, we invite you to observe what various committees are responsible for and how you and / or your organization might share ideas with us to help reach our goals. We plan to heighten awareness of our cultural identity in New Jersey in several ways. We have begun to upgrade the website to make it interactive so that Italian Americans all over New Jersey can share family histories and stories of their ancestors' voyages to the opportunities of America, and particularly how different it was then compared to today's immigrant experiences.
We plan to regularly publish notices to highlight upcoming events and topics of concern to all Italian Americans. The continued success of this commission is especially important to our children and grandchildren, as they are the only ones who can carry on our hard-earned legacy. We intend to promote assorted programs and fun activities to get young Italian Americans involved in their rich history and proud accomplishments.
Italian Americans can be as unified as any other ethnicity, if provided with the right tools, outlets and incentives. I know that we can be an integral part of pulling all factions together, with the help of my fellow Italian Americans who are as weary as I am from the unfortunate mentality that surrounds us. With a strong coalition of spirited Italian Americans, I am sure that we can defeat negative stereotypes and show the world who we really are, all while making new friends from different walks of life but a common ancestry. There truly is no better experience!
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