Tuesday, May 21, 2024


Thinly-veiled racist attack masked under ‘nationalist’ demagoguery.

After her appointment as Minister of Integration, Cécile Kyenge had to deal with various racist rants, both from populace and politicians. On a wall of a Padua High school, an inscription stated “Italy is not mestizo (half-breed), Kyenge (should be) repatriated immediately,” while an Italian representative to the European Parliament, Mario Borghezio, commented vulgarly “It’s a fucked-up choice. She has the face of a housewife.” In a different instance, the same Borghezio, while in a radio interview, declared: “Africans are Africans (…) they did not produce geniuses. This is a government of the bonga-bonga.”

A parish priest in Sardinia wrote on Facebook “Was there a need for a minister of color? With all due respect for the lady…” adding up “I am not a racist, mixing races is dangerous.”

The popular singer Povia felt necessary to share his “nationalistic” views (does anyone remember the many people who hid behind that label before WWII?) in an angry outburst: “I saw this ‘character’ (referring to the minister’s past civil rights protests) with a sign saying ‘Being Clandestine is Not a Crime’ (…) Of course, if you take to heart the problems of immigrants and give them precedence in a country like our Italy, then that bothers me too. Italy should be run by Italians; I instinctively think so. It’s clear that as soon as you make a statement like that you are (considered) a Racist. Thanks to all who believe to have a progressive view, one day Italy will be run in the government by Chinese (people). My thought is not racist, it’s the others who have a dirty conscience and see evil because evil is in them.” I believe this statement is clearly delusional and on the borderline psychopathic, with a reminiscence of paranoia mixed with it, but I’ll let the readers decide.

The new Italian Minister of Integration Cécile Kyenge stated that she was hurt by the racist insults that followed her appointment, but also that she is determined to continue on her work. In a TV interview, she declared: “It’s not that I expected them, not really. I believe that as a human being, any thing that is spoken (about you) may hurt. In any case, I have never stopped in front of difficulty.”

“These are not the insults that could stop me,” Kyenge reiterated in a snappy reply to the banner displayed by militants of “Forza Nuova” outside the headquarters of the “Partito Democratico” in Macerata, which stated ‘Kyenge, go back to Congo’: To the journalists who asked the minister for a comment on the story, she calmly said: “Everyone has the right to express his opinion. What really matters is not my answer, but the answer of civil society.”

“In the past few days I read that they say I am the first minister of color: I am not colored, I am black. I repeat it with pride,” Ms. Kyenge announced at the first press conference, pointing to the fact that we must “begin to use the right words.” The minister added that “diversity is a resource,” that is, an opportunity for the enrichment of the other citizens, and that she is Italo Congolese. “I belong to two countries and two cultures that are both inside of me. I cannot call myself neither completely Italian nor completely Congolese, but this is the importance of diversity,” words that certainly can be deeply felt and understood by all of us Italian immigrants in America. Kyenge continued: “Italy is not a racist country; it has a tradition of welcome and hospitality,” and that is why we must “enhance this tradition. We talk about racism because there is not much knowledge of the other, we must break down the walls or the differences will increase. Immigration is a treasure.”

Prime Minister Enrico Letta
Prime Minister Enrico Letta

In a joint statement, the and his Vice Minister Angelino Alfano offered “full solidarity (with her) for the attacks against her,’ adding that “she is proud to be black and we are proud to have her in our government.”

Tiziano Thomas Dossena
Tiziano Thomas Dossenahttp://tizianodossena.info
Tiziano Thomas Dossena is the Editorial Director of L’Idea Magazine. He is the author of “Caro Fantozzi” (2008), “Dona Flor, An Opera by van Westerhout” (2010), "Sunny Days and Sleepless Nights" (2016), "The World as an Impression: The Landscapes of Emilio Giuseppe Dossena" (2020), "Federico Tosti, Poeta Antiregime" (2021), and "La Danza del Colore" (2023). Dossena is the editor of A Feast of Narrative anthology series and co-editor of Rediscovered Operas Series books on librettos.

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