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Is 'Fredo' the Italian N-Word? I Asked the 3 Most Italian Women I Know for Answers

Illustration for article titled Is Fredo the Italian N-Word? I Asked the 3 Most Italian Women I Know for Answers
Image: The Godfather/Getty/My bad Photoshop skills

Chris Cuomo, host of CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time and the network’s chief Italian-American correspondent, threatened to beat up a heckler during a heated exchange after the man called him “Fredo.” In a video that has gone viral, Cuomo says, “Only punkass bitches from the right call me Fredo. Fredo is from The Godfather. He was a weak brother. And they use it as an Italian aspersion. Any of you Italian? It’s a fuckin’ insult your people... It’s like the N-word for us.”

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Oh!

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The unidentified man continued to bait Cuomo, claiming he thought his name was Fredo. Cuomo was unamused by the obvious bullshitting. From CBS:

“I’ll f***ing ruin your sh*t,” Cuomo said. “I’ll f***ing throw you down these stairs like a f***ing punk. ... Take a swing, c’mon boy.” As the man argues back and others crowd around them, Cuomo continues, “You want to call me sh*t, call me sh*t then. I’m f***ing right here. I’ll f***ing wreck your sh*t. You didn’t know what you were doing when you called me Fredo?”

At the conclusion of the video, as another man tells them to break it up, the heckler said, “Look at all these cameras. You’re in for it. You’re for it.”

“In for what?” Cuomo replied. “You called me ‘Fredo.’”

This very quickly became a feeding frenzy for scorching hot takes: Fox News’s Sean Hannity stood up for Cuomo’s bruised ego, Anthony Scaramucci agreed that the confrontation was racist, President Trump went full troll, and Neera Tanden said some... stuff about calling women whores. Francis Ford Coppola has yet to respond to our request for comment!

CNN is sticking up for their Italian-American golden boy, their spokesperson saying, “Chris Cuomo defended himself when he was verbally attacked with the use of an ethnic slur in an orchestrated setup. We completely support him.”

Meanwhile, I’m sitting here wondering how the hell calling an Italian-American “Fredo” is like calling someone a “nigger.”

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Cuomo, understandably, doesn’t want to be insulted. But while it’s an obvious slight that would only be lobbed at someone who is Italian-American, is it a slur in the same way that the N-word is?

I’m pretty fucking skeptical! But I’m also a black woman from Los Angeles: I don’t know shit about Italians.

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But having lived and worked in New York City for several years means that I know some Italian-Americans who would have far better insight into this Fredo business than I would. So I hit up the three most Italian women I could think of—former co-workers who say “mozzarell” and “proshoot” so I know they’re legit—and texted them one simple question: “Is Fredo the N-word for Italian-Americans?”

Here’s what they said:

Alexandra D’Alusio

Illustration for article titled Is Fredo the Italian N-Word? I Asked the 3 Most Italian Women I Know for Answers
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Illustration for article titled Is Fredo the Italian N-Word? I Asked the 3 Most Italian Women I Know for Answers

Nina Braca

Illustration for article titled Is Fredo the Italian N-Word? I Asked the 3 Most Italian Women I Know for Answers
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Jessica Booth

Illustration for article titled Is Fredo the Italian N-Word? I Asked the 3 Most Italian Women I Know for Answers
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The verdict: Three out of three Italian-American Millennial women from the Tri-state area that I know personally do not consider Fredo the Italian equivalent to the N-word. Therefore, I’m calling bullshit on this one, Cuomo. Something can be an insult without being likened to the goddamn N-word.

If Cuomo starts his show tonight with a rumination on the racism Italian Americans face in 2019, please do not @ me. My blood pressure will not be able to handle it.

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.

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Kat Marlowe