into mainstream America but, attainment of the said integration entailed the battling and resistance of WASP America’s discrimination and prejudices.
The history of Italian immigration to America provides a context for understanding the reason why they initial occupied the lower tier of the European ethnic immigration groups. Quite simply stated, Italian immigration to the United States did not begin in earnest until the late nineteenth century, lasting to the early twentieth, making this one of the last of the European ethnic groups to immigrate to this country. As both late immigrants and, of course, Catholics, they stood out from mainstream, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, America.
Italian immigrants did not only stand out because of their religious affiliation or their late arrival to America but because of their association with organized crime. The linkage, real and not assumed, between leading members of the Italian American community and the Sicilian mafia, and their transplantation of the Sicilian organized crime model to the United States, fuelled mainstream America’s prejudices towards Italian immigrants. Perceived of as either Mafioso or petty criminals, they were relegated to the bottom of the social hierarchy and actively barred from public office, a significant number of educational institutions and even social clubs.
By the third generation, however, prejudices had eroded. The Italian American community had gradually inserted itself into mainstream America through the adoption of the core culture. The third generation’s evident Americanism significantly facilitated this group’s integration and their increasing success at upward social mobility solidified their status as Americans who happened to be of Italian descent, as opposed to Italian Americans. At the present time, this ethnic group stands at or above the national average insofar as all of income, education and occupation are concerned.
As with the Italians, the Jews are late