By Sally Deering
Joe Montaperto grew up in the 1970s, a time of race riots, culture-clashes and mash-ups. Born and raised in an Italian Brooklyn neighborhood, Montaperto’s parents moved him and the family to Roselle, New Jersey, with the hope of getting away from the racially-charged clashes playing out on Brooklyn’s streets. Instead, the teenage Montaperto enrolled in a high school where African-American teenagers were bussed in from the inner-city and Montaperto, who is of Italian dissent, how to find a way to cope in this unexpected and sometimes violent culture clash.
This all happens on the first page of THE EDGE OF WHITENESS, Montaperto’s memoir published by Oak Tree Press and available on Amazon.com and Montaperto’s website (www.JoeMontaperto.com). On Thurs, Jan.9that 6:30 pm, Montaperto will read excerpts of THE EDGE OF WHITENESS at the Heights branch of the Jersey City Free Public Library on Zabriskie Street.
“It was a story I had to tell,” Montaperto says. “I was born in Brooklyn and we moved to Roselle New Jersey. It was an insidious town – it looked pretty nice, but it was kind of a dangerous place. We were from Brooklyn. We lived in an Italian neighborhood and we moved to Roselle. It was very white and the high school was mostly black. It was kind of a weird cultural shock, like Jackie Robinson in reverse. I remember feeling totally on the outside from everybody. It was pretty rough until when I turned 15. I suddenly looked Puerto Rican and I learned how to box and that probably saved me, those two things.”