Thanks for your reply. I agree that these old prejudices seem absurd in modern times, especially to you and me in the West, but they were no less real. It might not have been modern times in the Bahamas and Southern U.S. a hundred years ago. Miscegenation, loosely defined, was illegal and indeed is still on the books in many southern states, although not enforceable. An Italian surname in itself was enough to stir prejudices, although as you say Northern Italians and Sardinians were genetically different than Southern Italians and Sicilians. Descendants of Christopher Columbus and his crew in the Bahamas would show up as partly Italian on DNA tests, because they were Genoese, not Spanish. Incidentally, my Scottish ancestors used to call the English "white people". My Scots great-grandfather would call the local Southern folks "white people" embarrassing my grandmother who would say "Wheesht, Papa, we are the white people here."
I did not mean to imply that your grandfather was non-white. Your family tree is obviously whiter than mine, although that's not really important, is It? I'm pleased to hear that your grandfather was a brother Mason of both my grandfathers. This obligates me to treat you with extra respect, over and above my usual deference for people who have earned PhD.'s and had distinguished careers. In my ancestry research, I try to get into the mind and opinions of my ancestors, especially my grandfather Victor Lowe, an elected official in Key West. I do not let political correctness stop me from understanding how my pirate and slaveholder ancestors must have felt. I like to channel my Inner Pirate.
I was born in the 50's like you, but I had to go to segregated schools. I was told never to reveal any details of my exotic Florida ancestry. On the grammar school playground, we threw rocks at the Catholic Church next door breaking windows. Barbers would see my unusually curly blond hair and joke about possible African ancestry.
As a gay man, I"ve had to be particularly attuned to social class differences, which if anything have gotten more pronounced since I was little. I was raised to believe that wherever we sit is the head of the table. I may not have lots of money and a fancy house, but I have a masters degree in C.S., so I believe that I"m a member of the middle class.