#Kyenge – she’s black…and strong!

It’s the year 2013. As I read the italian newspapers this week I had to slow down and respire deeply. At the first instance the nomination of Cècile Kyenge, as minister of migration seemed to demonstrate the open-mindedness of this new, young government. But peace lasted not even for a week, sudden the political enemies of left-winged Kyenge showed how deep racism is rooted in parts of the italian society. For those who like to google I can give you the advice to check out the results for racism+Italy: For nearly a decade Italy and racism had merely been associated with football – but lastely google results are dominated by our first black minister, originally  from the democratic republic of Congo.

Cècile Kyenge - Tony Gentile/REUTERS

Although there had been racist statements from right-populist political party members already in earlier times, they never lead to a broad public discussion; they never appeared more important than racial assaults on the italian soccer fields (and I defenitly do not want to excuse  this behaviour).

However this time dimensions altered: The anthropologically arguing Mario Borghezio (LegaNord) and other high representatives had been confronted with a huge shitstorm throughout different channels, and finally they seem to become the inferiour one. But let’s start from the beginning, Twitter is going to help me.

April, 30th:

The EU-representative Mario Borghezio does not understand italian politics anymore and states: „This is a government bonga bonga, they want to change the right for citizenship by the implementation of ius soli. Kyenge tries to impose tribal traditions from Congo […] she’s a bad choice and her face remembers me an ordinary housewife„. (Mario Borghezio, EU-representative of the LegaNord) For the original broadcasting interview listen here (only in italian).

Kyenge herself confirmed she’s black rather than coloured – but I had been quite dissapointed already a few days before this verbal assault. Even the reppublica.it had published a very informal and low-quality picture of Cècile Kyenge whilst presenting all the other members of the government in what we may define as sartorial elegance. See here (increase in size is not possible anymore).

-> as a reaction to Borghezio’s and other statements from the right-winged hundereds of people reacted on Twitter. #Kyenge and #racism became very intensively debated #hashtags on Twitter for the consecutive days… but there is not just solidarity.

People discussed on racist Graffitis at schools, Fascist Groups and Europe. Europe? The user Bleri Lleshi asks how it is possible that not only citizens, but even politicians on all political levels can freely and openly be racist – in Europe.

It’s astonishing: In Italy it seems we’re not ready for discussing migration topics on a political and factual framework. Thanks to #Kyenge we now have the chance to discuss and collectively refuse racism – but all of us should be aware that the case #Kyenge may happen everywhere in Europe. It is the reason why I decided to write in English this time.

P.S.: Within the last 4 days more than 120.000 people signed a petition for the expulsion of Borghezio from the European Parliament – 30.000 more and it’s up to Europe to formulate a statement. Click here  if you’d like to sign the petition.


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