In 2009 I wrote a Christmas-related blog post
prompted by a holiday card I saw for sale that used a Tina Modotti photograph of a close-up of a woman’s full breast and a baby nursing as an evocative alternative image to the traditional Holy Family. Thinking then about Modotti, an unsung feminist heroine of Italian radical immigrant history, led me to look for other signs of progressive politics within Italian American Christmas traditions.
In the spirit of that post, I playfully created a series of Radical Italian American Christmas eCards this year. The cards illuminate real historical Italian American men and women who in a variety of ways lived, worked, or otherwise participated in a radical rethinking of cultural politics and creative potentials.
These cards don’t tell their stories, but their experiences have been documented (and continue to be) by a number of scholars, authors, and artists.
You can find Holiday eCards (click on image to open) with:
Angela Bambace Ralph Fasanella
James Groppi Tina Modotti
Maria Roda Vito Russo
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti
Mario Savio Carlo Tresca
The individuals in these cards, and many others, remind us that political agency can support social change, that art makes and encourages new directions of thinking, and that beliefs are not constrained by institutional structures and traditional boundaries but instead can transcend those in the name of the disenfranchised, the exploited, and the under-represented. In the era of Antonin Scalias and Joe Arpaios, it's particularly relevant to recall and take note of such alternative possibilities.
And what better time then Christmas to highlight progressive actions, actions that connect with some of the associations the holidays have—generosity, community, and hope.
So, take this small gesture of joy in the spirit of the season. Please freely post, email, share on FB, tweet, send, download or print them out.