Italians mirror on the sexual harassment scandal surrounding Cuomo

Salvatore Principe knows the name and origin of every Italian American who has held office in New York and is proud of them all. Andrew Cuomo is one of them.

“We are proud of the Italians, no matter what. Politics is one thing, but respecting a person is another, ”Principe said.

He puts politics aside when Italian heritage comes into play. He and his friends meet several times a week at the Bronx Italian American Cultural Association to exchange ideas.

They are especially proud of Andrew Cuomo’s father Mario, the first Cuomo to rule the state and rise to political prominence at a time when Italians were being discriminated against. Anthony Tamburri is Dean of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute at CUNY’s Queens College.

“And there were advertisements, job advertisements in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, saying that neither people of color nor Italians had to apply,” said Tamburri.

He says the early Italian immigrants were treated as second class citizens. Mario Cuomo dealt with the remnants of prejudice.

“He was number one in his class when he graduated from law school, and yet he couldn’t find a job with a Manhattan law firm. It wasn’t that easy for him, ”added the Italian-American history scholar.

Not easy, but Mario Cuomo made it look like that and inspired Americans with his rhetorical skills.

“It gave us symbolism, something to look forward to. It gave our youth something to see and say. We can do it, ”said Egidio Sementilli, chairman of the last Italian-American club that was left in the Bronx.

Members say Mario set the bar high, believing Andrew Cuomo could have advanced to higher office had it not been for the allegations of sexual harassment they believe are difficult to understand.

“What we did 20 years ago, when you saw someone, you kissed them on the cheek. That is no longer possible, this is currently something of a taboo, ”said Sementilli.

While Andrew Cuomo’s third term will be shortened and he did not have a third term like his father, Italian Americans here say it will not affect the good the Cuomo family has done.

“This is a chapter in the history of Cuomo that is being written right now, but I think in no way, in any way, and it really shouldn’t reflect on Mario Cuomo and his legacy,” added Tamburri.

Only time will tell what Andrew Cuomo’s political fate will bring, but many Italian Americans here in the Bronx believe that his last name still carries a lot of weight. They say they wouldn’t be surprised to see him or any other Cuomo in political office in the future.

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