My time in Italy has come to a conclusion. Winter break 2019-2020 has been informative and personal, very personal. In more than 30 days I had the chance to see my motherland with different eyes and a much more open-minded mentality, in order to understand how to grasp and translate my culture, values, and education into my writing in the US. There was less Dolce Vita this time.
I mostly write in English for an English-spoken audience, but I’ve realized that there’s a huge, more urgent than expected, need of diversity’s representation in Italy, especially in Journalism. I already knew this fact, since Italy is a predominantly white country lead mostly by old, elitist men. It’s no news that no matter how beautiful and charming Italians are, our political and sociological systems are old and sometimes outdated. However, with the eyes of a journalist, I’ve seen activism and had constructive dialogues, both from people of the left and right wings. I’ve met people who are willing to learn more, others who are comfortable in their small bubble. I took all these observations as a reminder to myself: to keep doing my stuff and be more intentional, specific, and constant. Once and for all, I felt how tangible is the problem that Italy and Italians are facing, which is rhetoric and representation. Italians know how to talk, but they don’t know how to listen and build constructive bridges, yet. Populism weights more than anything in our everyday life. It’s the only technique Italians seems to know how to deal with things. There’s toleration, but not acception. This is a general observation, though. Not everyone is like this, but the majority, non matter how liberal, democratic or conservative they are, face this problematic. An issue that only Italians can fix, if they want to. And I hope they do.
Speaking of representation, here’s a fact. This morning I woke up with the following news:
Now. You might just scroll past this news and not give any attention. But as a young woman of color, I was interested to know more. What happened is that the Associated Press (AP) left out Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate, founder of The Rise Up Movement. Why is this relevant and wrong? And why should I talk about it, if my blog is mostly about fashion, feelings, and visuals? Well, this issue is about representation.
Given the importance and the advocacy of such big news organization like the AP, this kind of mistake was unnecessary and very wrong. As an editor, running a story whose visuals don’t respect the subjects’ visibility and credibility is simply not ethical. In addition to this, cutting out a young black girl is hurtful for the POC community. We – as a biracial girl I must include myself – don’t see lots of representation in media, especially when we’re talking about worldwide events linked to science, politics or art. Probably the only POC who get more recognition amongst the others are African-Americans (light-skinned) in the entertainment industry, but even there the situation isn’t at its best. The editorial and professional industry still faces struggle in accepting black and brown women’s nature too. Look at this slide below:
Elaine Welteroth, Californian-New York-based journalist and writer, received this racist comment on her Twitter account. Her responses were thoughtful and sharp. How dare we should still discuss how someone’s hair is unprofessional? No hair style is unkempt, if you cure it and display it correctly. How horrible is to think that someone’s feature is unprofessional, especially something that is part of their natural body. I personally was given this kind of comment in high school. In response to my teacher’s marvel and almost discomfort on how big and in the way was my hair in the classroom, I smiled at her and next day I came in class with bigger hair.
This narrative and these thoughts need to change. However, old white people won’t get it. Or even just old, conservative (I don’t mean “conservative” as a political term here – I mean it as someone “stuck in the past in the most unnecessary way”) people, of any color and genders (there are also many black people who are not willing to change their narratives and are against some kind of representations – see Latinos vs Black people, Asians vs Arabs, etc.).
Last, but not least, here’s a post I cam across this afternoon that explains all the things I said and stand for. Just click it here.
What’s left to say? I just hope society does better. In the meantime I’ll keep doing my writing and keep pushing others change the narrative, make solid solutions out of problems, and live a more colorful existence.
Oh boy, if I’m ready to write and be inspired!
the curly flower