Posts Tagged With: Ukraine
To be black and Italian at the same time is a new reality the Italian society is still struggling to accept.
Adoption and increase in the number of mixed marriages between Italians and Africans are gradually leading to an increase in the number of Black Italian children, the so-called Afro-Italians.
But the Italian society seems unprepared and unwilling to cater for the social and educational needs of these children.
In a recent interview, Sabrina Jacobucci, aka Flora NW, President of the Association of Afro-Italian Children, reveals the reasons that led to the foundation of the Association, the problems African children face in the country, and suggests what should be done to make the education system more responsive to the needs of mixed heritage children.
A snippet from the interview
Afro-Italians is quite a new concept in Italy. How do people react to it?
I think the very concept is disturbing to some people. Even the word Afro-Italian. I remember when I started posting on a (all-white) parents’ forum using the word Afro-Italian as a nick name, a lot of people reacted badly to my comments judging the nickname “aggressive”.
I think people in Italy are afraid of someone defining him/herself Afro and Italian at the same time because in the collective consciousness you can be Italian only if you are white. This is demonstrated also by the treatment given to the famous black Italian footballer Mario Balotelli – what racist hooligans sing is that there is no such a thing as a black Italian. Celebrating our children’s dual identities, black and Italian at the same time, has a symbolic aspect which is disruptive to some people.
From your experience, in Italy, are mixed heritage children facing different problems from those of other children?
Mixed race children often face the same issues black mono-heritage children face. No matter their skin tone, they are seen as black and therefore it is healthier and more empowering for them to identify as such, without denying their dual heritage at the same time. A racist is not going to ask them whether they are mixed-race. And yes, black and mixed race children definitely face different problems from those of white children.
What are the main problems?
Problems such as name-calling: on the first day of primary school, one of our mixed-race girls went home to her mum and asked: What does “negra” mean? A child in class told me today “Don’t sit next to me, negra!”; refusal by classmates to hold the black child’s hand at playtime in nursery (an experience that another of our black girls, aged four or five, had). In both these episodes unfortunately what emerged was the lack of action by the teacher. Teachers all too often do not have any training in multicultural education, and therefore when faced with episodes of racism or pre-racism by children, they do not know how to react and tend to minimise, even telling the victim to look the other way, or calling the victims oversensitive if they report a racist incident and expect justice. This is very serious because with racism, any action is better than no action at all. The victim should be comforted and the perpetrator reprimanded, always.
Warning: Balotelli has threatened to walk off
Mario Balotelli has threatened to walk off the pitch if he is racially abused at Euro 2012 and said he would ‘kill’ anyone who dares to throw a banana at him.
Manchester City‘s volatile Italian striker spoke out amid increasing concerns that black players will be targeted by racists when the tournament kicks off in Poland and Ukraine next week.
The families of England players Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott will not travel to Ukraine because of fears for their safety but Balotelli, of Ghanaian descent, said: ‘I will not accept racism at all. It’s unacceptable. If someone throws a banana at me in the street, I will go to jail, because I will kill them.’
Balotelli has been the victim of racist abuse on several occasions – most recently in February when Porto were fined over the behaviour of their supporters in a Europa League tie against City.
‘Let’s see what happens at the Euros,’ added Balotelli. ‘I hope it will pass without a problem. I really couldn’t deal with that.’
Balotelli, 21, was targeted by Juventus and Roma fans while playing for Inter Milan in 2009, which resulted in Juve having to play a match behind closed doors.
In June of that year, he was racially abused and pelted with bananas in a Rome bar while out with Italy teammates in the build-up to the European Under-21 Championships.
He added: ‘It was lucky that the police arrived quickly because, I swear, I would have beaten them. I would have really destroyed them. I hope it never happens again.’
Centre of attention: Balotelli has been given the No 9 shirt ahead of this summer’s tournament
In an interview with France Football, the striker insists he is a misunderstood ‘genius’ and said he hopes to stay at City despite a series of controversies.
‘It’s not easy when ”call girls” talk in the newspapers or when people say they have seen me here or there during the evening,’ he said.
Misunderstood: Balotelli hopes to stay at Manchester City beyond this season
’But I would like to stay at City, because here I have affection. Will I stay? I don’t know. I think so. You have to ask Mino (Raiola, his agent).
‘It’s good luck that Roberto Mancini appreciates and understands me. Mancini always gives me confidence. Those who know me, love me. Those who don’t know me, love me, too, or they hate me.
‘It’s said that geniuses are misunderstood. But maybe it is because the genius is so different that people are not capable of understanding them. Yes, I think I’m a genius. But I don’t think I’m a rebel. I have my life, my world, I act how I want, without bugging anyone.’
Ukraine said a BBC Panorama documentary was ‘xenophobic’ after it showed their fans giving Nazi salutes and taunting black players with monkey noises. Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate, broadcast on Monday, also showed Asian students being attacked in Kharkiv, a Euro 2012 venue.
Government spokesman Oleh Voloshyn said: ‘It portrayed eastern Europe as mentally not equal to the rest of Europe. We believe this report is outrageous, done in the best traditions of Soviet journalism. Ukraine is one the leaders in Europe in terms of religious and racial tolerance.’
- Balotelli: I’ll leave pitch if racially abused at Euros
- THE EURO FOOTBALL NAZIS: Black British fans could return home ‘in a coffin’ claims Sol Campbell
- nazi mob lies in wait for England fans: riot police march into battle against thugs on Euro 2012 terraces – but turn a blind eye to racist chants and violence
- safe areas known as “inclusivity zones” established in town centres, bars, restaurants for non-white England football fans visiting Ukraine
- it’s official: Africans and Asians should expect to be racially abused at European Championship this summer
- Theo Walcott’s Family Will Not Go To Euro 2012 Over Racist Fears
LIKE ANY football fan, 26-year-old Vadym is elated when his team scores. But he has an especially offensive way of showing his appreciation. He punches his chest, salutes and shouts “Sieg Heil!” – insisting later that his Nazi “Hail Victory” gesture is just a bit of fun.
His action would be unacceptable anywhere but the fact that Vadym lives in the Ukraine where the Jewish population was decimated by the Nazis during the Second World War – with between 100,000 and 150,000 shot in a single ravine outside the capital Kiev alone – makes his claim repugnant.
The truly worrying aspect of his attitude is that he is not alone. Vadym is a member of a far-Right group in Ukraine which recruits and trains football hooligans to attack foreigners and whose activities were revealed on a chilling TV documentary shown last night.
Yet despite the fact that racism is endemic in Ukraine, in just 10 days’ time the Eastern European country – along with neighbouring Poland – will host one of the most prestigious football championships of all, Euro 2012.
Such is the concern over the country’s lax attitude to racism that the families of two black England players have now decided to heed advice from the Foreign Offi ce and stay away. Neither Theo Walcott’s family nor the relatives of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 18, will be in Ukraine, where the England team will play all three of their group matches.
The brother of midfielder Walcott tweeted that he and his father would not be flying out to support the star because of “possible racist attacks”.
Official Foreign Office advice is that “Travellers of Asian or Afro- Caribbean descent and individuals belonging to religious minorities should take extra care”.
Former England defender Sol Campbell thinks all England supporters should cancel their flights. “Stay home, watch it on TV,” he says. “Don’t even risk it. You could end up coming back in a coffin.”
OVER the past week politicians, human-rights campaigners and football fans have been expressing concern about the tournament. Unofficial warnings suggest Ukraine can be an inadvisable destination for fans who are black, Asian or gay.
Kiev was forced to abandon its first Gay Pride march this month after it was ambushed by 500 Right-wing football hooligans, who beat up several would-be marchers.
The US State Department’s advice to travellers to Ukraine suggests Campbell may have a valid point: “The police and government’s slow response to hate crimes is a continuing concern. Although senior government officials have publicly deplored hate crimes, street-level law enforcement officials are either unwilling or unable to deter hate crimes effectively or protect racial minorities adequately.”
Scaremongering before a major tournament is nothing new. “Normally it involves the myth of organised hooliganism and has little to do with reality,” says one seasoned football correspondent.
“In this case, however, the worries about racism may prove correct.” According to Chris Rogers, who made the Panorama documentary for the BBC, fans and players are right to be wary. As well as footage of Ukrainian fans giving the Nazi salute his programme showed them taunting black players with monkey noises, singing anti-Semitic chants and even captured a ruthless attack on a group of Indian students at the Metalist Stadium, Kharkiv, one of the Euro 2012 venues .
“Teams here have a following of hardcore ‘Ultras’ – a name given to fans who put on spectacular displays of support using home-made banners, flares and chanting,” says Rogers. “But I’ve been told some nationalist organisations are tapping into the Right-wing ideology of some Ultra-hooligans, recruiting them as members and using them to perpetrate violence against foreigners.”
Vadym is one. He belongs to The Patriot Of Ukraine, one of many nationalist movements in the country. The underground bar where he drinks and which functions as the unofficial clubhouse for his organisation, features a huge mural of the Celtic cross, often used as a symbol of white supremacy.
Chillingly he showed Rogers footage of himself at a Patriot training camp: “He says the training is preparation for a civil war to rid the country of immigrants and overthrow the Ukrainian government .”
The Patriots have 18 branches across Ukraine. All host cities of Euro 2012 have a branch.
Ivanna Pavlovets, who was born in the UK, recently visited her late father’s home. Now in her 40s and working as a journalist in London she found parts of Ukraine beautiful but was also aware of endemic racist attitudes.
SHE says: “Racism is far more acceptable there. The Ukrainians don’t see it as anything too wrong. All the terms we would consider unacceptable they still use in common parlance. I think it’s a result of having been isolated from international social mores for all those years under communism. Even after 20 years they are still emerging. They are still being socialised, if I can put it that way.
“They still use racist terms against Jewish people, for example. The thing is, it’s not always unkindly meant, they just don’t see anything wrong in pointing out differences. Although it’s not always malicious, it quite often can be if they see those differences as threatening.”
The decision of UEFA – European football’s governing body – to give the tournament to Ukraine and Poland, rather than Italy, the other front-runner, was spectacularly ill-judged according to Sol Campbell .
“UEFA were wrong, what they should say is that if you want this tournament you sort your problems out. You do not deserve these prestigious tournaments.”
More than 80,000 police and stewards in Ukraine are now said to be receiving “anti-discrimination training” ahead of the finals which begin on June 8. It may be a question of too little too late.
- nazi mob lies in wait for England fans: riot police march into battle against thugs on Euro 2012 terraces – but turn a blind eye to racist chants and violence (innerstandingisness.wordpress.com)
- safe areas known as “inclusivity zones” established in town centres, bars, restaurants for non-white England football fans visiting Ukraine (innerstandingisness.wordpress.com)
- it’s official: Africans and Asians should expect to be racially abused at European Championship this summer (innerstandingisness.wordpress.com)
- Theo Walcott’s Family Will Not Go To Euro 2012 Over Racist Fears (innerstandingisness.wordpress.com)