chapter
Introduction
WHITE LIES, DARK TRUTHS
WithJENNIFER GUGLIELMO
Pages 14

Italians are niggaz with short memories. In late June 2002, Chuck Nice, an African American deejay at WAXQ-FM in New York City casually made this remark on-air while hosting an early morning talk show. Within days, a response came back. The Order of the Sons of Italy in America, the oldest and largest organization of Italian Americans in the United States, announced that it was "puzzled by such a statement and the station's refusal to do an on-air apology.We understand that Mr. Nice is African American, but we don't understand why it is wrong for a white person to call an African American that name, but okay for an African American to use it to describe white people."1 What the organization's spokesperson saw as so offensive was not the entire phrase, just the epithet, which made no sense since it was used by an African American to describe whites. What they seem to have missed, however, was how this radio host was calling Italians out on their particular whiteness: Italians were not always white, and the loss of this memory is one of the tragedies of racism in America.