When I was a kid, I went to my friend’s house and heard her dad complaining about the ‘mulanyans.’ The “fucking mulanyans.” I had no idea what that meant, so I asked my friend while we were playing Barbies. She whispered as if it were a sin to say it: black people.
The Urban Dictionary defines “mulanyan” as “a term used in place of the ‘N word’ by VERY racist Italians.”
I guess my friend’s dad was a very racist Italian. Sadly, I think my town is full of them.
In high school, my ‘Racism Sucks’ poster was ripped down at every single party I threw. That old poster got more wrinkly by the party, but I insisted on putting it back up.
Because Racism Sucks.
But now I’m having second thoughts.
Racism may not suck all the time.
Racism can be funny. And helpful.
I was sitting at a bar in my hometown of Addison, IL last week when a bunch of Italian gentlemen joined me. I’ve often compared my town to The Jersey Shore because of the large population of Italians, Affliction shirts, fake nails, and tans. We just don’t have a shore.
“Are you Italian?” One mobster guy asked me.
“Twenty-five percent,” I said. Ew. Why did I even answer this man?
“What’s the other?”
“I’m sorry,” he said before I could finish.
He was sorry I’m not 100% Italian. To him, anybody who is not Italian should be sorry.
And I was sorry. Sorry that anyone has ever let themselves get upset over comments like these. Because, come on. They’re so ignorant they’re just funny. So I laughed in this man’s face. And laughed some more. I don’t want to make fun of the overweight Italian man who later set off an M80 inside the bar and has the audacity to think that nobody is better than he. That would be stooping to his level. But if he’s anything like some of the kids I went to school with, he’s just as Italian as someone who has never been to Italy and only knows one Italian word: Mulanyan.
I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit to using the ‘Are you Italian?’ or the ‘What are you?’ back when I was hitting on guys at the 18-and-over clubs. But, I was EIGHTEEN! I thought that’s how you hit on guys because that’s how I learned. Now I simply say, “Excuse me. Nice sweater. Are you still single or are you divorced yet?”
I wouldn’t be all up in arms about my town’s racism (or is it ethnicism?) problem if it had just happened that night, but I met a similar mobster fella at a bar the following night too. (It’s really the only thing to do besides the movie theater or the Applebee’s.)
“Are you Italian?” he asked me.
“I’m American,” I answered. “What is with that question? Why do men here care so much about whether or not I’m Italian?”
“Relax, Sweetie,” he said. “ I was just trying to give you a compliment.
Oh man. I couldn’t take it. Again, I laughed and laughed.
I’m not mad at the prejudices here. I’m simply thankful that they’re helping me weed out potential dates so easily. From the very first line, I know that I’m not interested. Growing up here has unfortunately attracted me to short, dark, hairy men. But thanks to racism, I can kick the bad ones to the curb before they get up the driveway.
“No, I’m not Italian. And, NO, I don’t want to date you.”
Thanks, Racism. You don’t suck all the time.