[Black Star News Editorial]
The racist reaction of some Italians to the appointment in April of a woman of African descent as a minister in the government has brought international shame to that country.
An Italian Senator has called her an Orangutan. She’s received numerous death threats. A few days ago, while making a speech, an Italian threw bananas at her. Another politician has said she should be raped so she could get a taste of the crimes immigrants commit.
And we are living in the 21st century? What caves have such people emerged from? Do they have no sense of their own self-value or do they regard themselves that lowly?
That’s precisely what it must be.
Such racists can’t really believe that they are better than Cecile Kyenge, Italy’s Integration Minister, who hails from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
For, indeed, she must be extremely competent and intelligent to be appointed a minister in the government in a country that harbors so many who still behave like Neanderthals.
Kyenge, 49, moved to Italy when she was 19 and later became a qualified ophthalmologist.
So what offends her attackers is that, indeed, Kyenge must be extremely good. A successful immigrant who pulled herself up by her own bootstraps.
Irrational fears are not unique to Italy, but the overt display is now exposing the country to global shame. After all, it’s a country where bananas are still thrown at Black Soccer players.
The problem arises from White supremacist mentality fostered and informed by centuries of media demonization of people of African ancestry as inherently inferior.
We saw some of the irrational racist reaction to the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States. If people of African ancestry were inferior how then could Obama have soared to such heights?
Yet we had seen, right before our own eyes, during many months of debates in 2008 as Obama exploded all the racist myths and stereotypes about Black people that had been disseminated for centuries.
Some politicians started sending out racist e-mail messages including with images of gorrillas and some Tea-Party supporters showed up at rallies with poster of Obama with a bone sticking through his nose.
Yes, Italy is dealing with the same shock. But how could Italy have forgotten so quickly?
Racist propaganda in Italy about Africa was given a rude awakening in 1896 when Italy invaded Abyssinia. At the time, General Oreste Baratieri, the Italian commander had promised to return home with the Ethiopian emperor Menelik in a cage.
The “barbarians” in Africa, led by Menelik and his wife, Empress Taytu, both riding on horseback and rallying their soldiers, destroyed an Italian army of 10,000 and killed several generals, demolished the provisions, and captured thousands. The Italians paid compensation before the captives were released.
That was the Great Battle of Adowa, or Adwa.
They must have learned there and then that Africans were second to none. Perhaps they need to be reminded of that lesson by the Italian media.
Where are the national marches to repudiate such racists who abuse Kyenge? Where are the women of Italy who should be out on the streets decrying such vile treatment of another female?
Kyenge has faced daily racist abuse and death threats.
To the banana throwing incident, on her Twitter account, @Kyenge, she reportedly responded to the racist gesture with characteristic cool, posting that the action was “sad” and a waste of food. “The courage and optimism to change things has to come above all from the bottom up to reach the institutions,” she also posted.
What a national shame on a country that allows racists to gang up on this singularly brave woman.
We should honor Kyenge right here in America.
She should be invited by the Congressional Black Caucus and while in town pay a courtesy call on The White House.
Editor’s Note: People allover the world who are offended by this ugly display should take a second and tweet “Cecile Kyenge We love you. Stay strong!”