Italian Influence On The United States Big Impact Of A Small Country

By Felix Lehmann

Italian Americans, a term for Americans of Italian descent, make up approximately 6% of the country’s population. They are the fourth largest ethnic group of European origin but their visibility and impact on popular culture is much greater than that. Italian Americans have always retained enough elements of their culture to be a very distinctive ethnic group, but they have assimilated well into the culture of the United States since many of them belong to families that have been in the United States for generations.

Many Italian Americans have intermarried with other ethnic groups, but they have been able to retain their distinct cultural identity. They are devoted to their traditional food and drink and have done much to popularize it in the mainstream culture. Italian food can be found all over the United States today which is a testament to its popularity.

Another way in which Italian Americans have been able to influence popular culture is through music. This community is very musical and it is very common for children to be exposed to the arts from a very early age. As a result, Italian Americans have had a very great impact on American popular culture, especially through music and cinema. Many popular singers, right from the 1940s to the present times have been of Italian descent.

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The cultural tradition of Italian Americans comes to the forefront during religious festivals of this community which is predominantly Catholic. There are feast days of many patron saints that are celebrated with a lot of gusto in some American cities that have large Italian American populations. These festivals were downplayed for a few decades, but there is now resurgence in interest in them. They are full of sound and color and the smells of delicious Italian cooking and this has proven to be a boon for tourism in the cities that host them.

One cannot neglect talking about the negative stereotypes that this community has had to face in the media and in popular that results from these media portrayals. Italians are normally depicted in movies and television serials as having a criminal bent of mind. If one were to go by these portrayals alone, one would believe that all Italian Americans worked for organized crime. In actuality, organized crime was present in the United States long before Italians arrived here in substantial numbers. At the very least, they are shown as being very loud mouthed and crude.

Italian American cultural associations are now taking on the responsibility of correcting the image of their community in the media and in popular perception. They are very vocal in their objection of negative portrayals of their community. This obstacle apart, the Italian American community is well liked for its role in building the country’s economy. It brings a lot of much needed color and aroma to modern society which tends to be very homogenous. There is no doubt at all that Italians will continue to maintain their rich cultural traditions while assimilating further into society.

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