African Women Voices
I heard it once during the screening of a brief documentary. And I did not comment to avoid polemics. On the same day, I heard it another time. I was too angry to reply.
Today someone else said it, and I feel like I have reached the three chances you are usually supposed to give people. Does it count if it’s not always the same person?
“I don’t eat SriLankan food,” says a young Italian boy born by Asian parents in a video of the production house Zalab. The theatre where the screening was happening, chuckled. It’s the kind of joke that would make an Italian audience laugh. And the boy in the screen knew it, I could see he did.
The author of the video has “foreign” origins as well but has a strong dialectal accent, he repeats a similar concept. He must be 16 or 17, lived in Italy his whole life. Struggling with racism, both political and social, despite feeling more Italian than Federico Fellini.
So where does grudge and endurance lead him?
Apparently, to a road where his only roots are in Italy, the only food is Italian so is the language.
That’s not cool. And not funny either, especially for one like me: born in Italy from Congolese parents and in constant search for both her Italian and African history. I don’t do it because I’m a crazy person or because I do not feel completed. Every single individual does it in his own way. What changes is that a black Italian searching for her African roots is much more visible than a white Italian studying Italian history at school.
I almost forgot the straw that broke the camel: it’s another video I watched today. A Chinese teenager, with a strong Roman accent, says he has linguistic problems with his parents. They don’t speak Italian very well, he doesn’t speak Chinese at all. And he laughs, innocently. Probably he is not aware of the damage his doing to his own identity.
Am I overreacting?
What does it say of biracial kids if they arrive to a point when admitting they gave up their parents’ origins sounds (or want to) funny?
Let me try a theory. It says they are not “integrated”, it says they need to refuse one culture to be accepted by another – same happens when a boy cannot act the same with his friends and his girlfriend and ends up being removed by one of the two. It says that a big chunk of possible interesting and enriching aspects of a culture get lost.
Biracial kids have nothing to be ashamed of, if anything they should take advantage of the multiple sources they have.
There’s nothing cool in rejecting your culture.
Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.