Sunday, January 13

The Web Bites the Mob in the Coolie

First of all, if you're an Italian-American you no doubt have heard the word "coolie" before. It comes from the word "culo" which means butt. But it's crude. So, by tweaking it a little, it became acceptable for little kids to say, and that's the word we used for butt growing up and the word my kids use now.

Anyway, I just came across an article that says that Sicilian businesses, tired of being strong-armed for protection by the mob, created a website where they can find strength in numbers. The Information Superhighway is sending the mob packin'! A few young men started with clever slogans, plastering Palmero with stickers reading ("Un Intero Popolo Che Paga Il Pizzo E Un Popolo Senza Dignita" ("PEOPLE WHO PAY THE PIZZO ARE PEOPLE WITHOUT DIGNITY.") Pizzo is the money they must pay the mob. The word spread and the common feeling was if your baker pays the pizzo, and you buy from the baker, you are giving the mafia your money, adn who wants to do that? Good old Italian guilt worked and lassoed clientele into the circle with the business owners, forming a united front. Emboldened, Sicilians took a stand and formed Comittee Addiopizzo (The Goodbye Pizzo committee). According to the AddioPizzo website,
"The campaign “Against pizzo change your shopping habits” wants to create a group of consumers in Palermo and in the region, ready to support businesses who stand up against racket and, overcoming fear, denounce their extorters."

When I read this I realized how little I know about how the mob operates to this day in Italy and Sicily. I am proud of the Sicilian business owners who have joined forces and finally stood up to thugs and thieves who think that they own Sicily. How dare someone demand another person's hard-earned money just so they won't bully them? Maybe now the mob can get a job- or go to jail. The AddioPizzo campaign could effectively wipe out this extortion for good- finally!

Good for you siciliani!

Sicilian business owners and supporters gather in Sicily.


pec said...

never met anyone else who knew 'coolie'. this is (somehow) one word that has never come up for us. what a riot!

tcb said...

Great to hear some other Italian-Americans carrying on the coolie tradition!

Anonymous said...

just mentioned the word coolie and work and people looked at me like i had four heads. i didn't realize it was an italian american thing... i thought everyone used it/ knew it as a kid growing up! ha.

Dani D said...

my kiddies are 4 & 6 and use the word coolies just like i did as a kid