A couple of days ago I read this article on Okayafrica. Posting it on Fb I expressed some concerns in regards; after being asked by the author to actually articulate my view, I managed to do so. Please read the article (link below) and then this comment I’ve put together and let me know your views. Do follow the conversation on Fb if you prefer, thank you.
At first when I read this paper I was unsure about my thoughts in regards, because I think it’s such a huge topic and there are so many points in here that would deserve some more insights. But now, after re-reading it a third time I think your point is as valid as Minister Kyenge’s point.
As an African-Italian person I think there is an imperative need to educate people about the ‘Other’, because what I see and experience is the fear of the Other, the fear of something different from them; people are scared that the ‘Other’ is “contaminating” the sense of Italianity. What the average Italian person knows about identity is that Italy is and will forever be White and Christian, which is not the case because even the notion of Italianity is a construction of time, a time which is just 153 years old. I think we need, we have, to go deeper than this. In this education we have to remember that even the Roman culture and the later Renaissance culture upon which the cultural and intellectual activity is being constructed are fruit of a borrowing from Greek culture, which was influenced by Near Eastern and African culture. From Philosophy to Sculpture to Medicine, Italian culture owe some credit to the ‘Other’.
I think Italianity as we know it today has to be taught to those who are not aware, because it is not like it was once upon a time, and Italy is being left behind with this nonsense politics of selfishness they are doing. This education has to start in the classroom, it has to start by demonising the stereotypical attitude that are often left unscrutinised. People need to be made aware that the shift in the notion of identity has never been so real and the soon we start having the conversation about the whole lot, the best it would be. It is bad, very bad, and the sad part is that when one lives in Italy, surrounded by this mockery called political activity, there is no full realisation of these issues; so the average Italian person ends up saying what you write in the article “[…] I’m not like the people in this article, nor the Lega Nord (the Northern League). Italy is a provincial country, rife with brutes (scemi), and we should be ashamed of them”.
When I read the statement of Minister Kyenge about the fact that Italians are not racist, I just rolled my eyes. Really? Italians (not all!) are racist because the system is racist; because the system has failed to understand the cultural change; because they are kidding themselves with the fairy tale of an isolated country in the world who would accept migrant workforce, but do not want them to stay with their children and culture; because if you are a child of an immigrant born and/or raised in Italy you need a stay permit (which has an expiring date!!) to be in Italy, and if at 18 years you decide you don’t want (most of the time you don’t find) a job or to go to university, you will have to leave the country (and go where?) because you are not using the stay permit you were giving (to stay where you were born??); because the people (demos) who give the power to the system are blinded with the utopian story of a White and Christian Italy, so they would accept time and time again a person who has committed fraud and crimes against the Italian people as Prime Minister instead of a woman of colour as deputy.
(I am going to stop here because I am starting to feel a feeling I don’t like.)