An Italian-Eritrean director and podcaster Ariam Tekle said the recent murder of a disabled Nigerian street vendor, Alika Ogorchukwu, in Italy was a “racist murder”.
This is despite the fact that the local police have ruled out racism as a motive for the murder of the 39-year-old in the seaside resort of Civitanova Marche.
He reportedly sold handkerchiefs when he was chased and beaten to death. None of those who witnessed the attack in broad daylight seemed to intervene.
One suspect – a white man named Filippo Claudio Giuseppe Ferlazzo – has been sentenced to remain in prison while the investigation continues.
A police investigator said Mr Ogorchukwu was attacked after the trafficker “urgently” asked the suspect and his partner for change.
Nevertheless, his gruesome murder – captured on video – has put racism in Italy firmly in the spotlight.
In 2016, another Nigerian man, Emmanuel Chidi Namdi, was murdered after defending his wife against racist abuse in central Italy’s town of Fermo.
Two years later, a far-right extremist shot six African migrants in a drive-by attack in a town about 15 miles from where Mr Ogorchukwu was killed.
When the police arrested him, he was covered in the Italian flag shouting “Viva l’Italia” and telling the police that he “wanted to kill them all”.
In fact, this region of Le Marche has been ruled since 2020 by the far-right party Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy). It is led by Giorgia Meloni, who could become the first woman president of the Council of Italy if she wins the early elections to be held in September.
The party, which is expected to emerge as the largest, is part of a larger conservative bloc that includes the right-wing Lega, led by Matteo Salvini, and the conservative Forza Italia, led by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Tekle says blacks in Italy regularly experience racist violence, harassment and discrimination by the police and the rise of far-right anti-immigration parties has “normalized” racism.
But, she adds, most Italians grow up with the attitude that racism is not so serious in their country.
“They always say it’s ‘ignorance’ or something else. They don’t want to admit that there is racism in Italy. They always say America or the UK are worse. ”
In recent years, Italy, a country long known for its history of mass emigration, has become one of Europe’s hotspots for migrants.
The country has struggled to cope with this historic turning point and to successfully integrate migrants into Italian society.
Ms. Tekle was born and raised in a popular neighborhood in the city of Milan. Her family has lived in Italy for five decades, but she feels marginalized in a society that she, she says, refuses to see her as one of their own. “I speak with a Milanese accent, but they keep asking me where I’m from.”
Giorgia Meloni’s party has been accused of gaining support from neo-fascists
Italy also makes it difficult for people born to immigrant parents to obtain Italian citizenship – it is not an automatic right and they must wait until they are 18 to apply, which makes them feel more likely to apply. be strangers.
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Alessia Reyna, student and member of an anti-racism network, says that although she is very Italian, she will never be recognized as such because she is a black woman.
Ms. Reyna was born in Rome to an African-American father and an Afro Peruvian mother who met and fell in love outside the Eternal City’s Colosseum.
She grew up in a small town near Milan. She went to school there but chose to continue her education in the UK. Ms Reyna states that Italy is not ready to tackle the problems of structural racism.
She points to another recent case in which Beauty Davis, a young Nigerian woman who worked as a dishwasher in a restaurant in southern Calabria, was beaten after asking for her salary.
“She just asked to be paid, but she was attacked. I don’t think a white woman would have been attacked,” Ms. Reyna said.
Ubah Cristina Ali Farah, the award-winning Italian-Somali writer, shares a similar point of view. He says very few Italians are aware of their country’s colonial history and how it can affect the experiences of non-white Italians.
Italy was the colonial power in Eritrea, Somalia, Libya and also occupied Ethiopia in the 1930s under the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini.
Ms. Ali Farah’s family has lived in Italy for more than half a century, but she says: “If they don’t recognize as Italians those of us who have colonial ties with Italy, how will they ever recognize people who come to Italy by boat? ? or their children as Italians