Bananas Thrown At Italy's First Black Minister

Last Friday, Minister for Integration Cécile Kyenge, Italy's first black minister, was speaking at a rally when an audience member hurled bananas at her. Ever since her appointment, Kyenge has faced unrelenting racism with many taunts and slurs against her by both the public and elected officials. The banana incident took place on Friday, in Cervia, where Kyenge was holding a rally for her supporters. That is when an audience member that police are still searching for stood up and threw two bananas at the podium Kyenge was speaking at.

The bananas fell short of the stage.

In another incident, Roberto Calderoli, a senator, went as far as to compare Kyenge to an orangutan. He also was quoted for linking her success to illegal immigration in Italy and claiming she needs to go back to her own country to become a minister.

Yes, the topic of race is back on the table, regardless of how saturated you think it is. However, I am talking about a different type of racism: racism towards black leaders. This type of racism is more detrimental to the black identity or the black potential" than it is to the victim. Blacks in power stand as a representation, a symbol, and an authority, and black leaders are defamed or humiliated in such a dehumanizing manner, it not only reinforces the notion it is OK to humiliate all blacks but also takes away the respect and honor of that black leader. The idea that respectable black leaders can be called monkeys and expected to face that same constituency that thinks their brain is primitive is the biggest form of disrespect and dishonor.

Sure, there are plenty other non-black leaders that are humiliated and disrespected, but I am not talking about your average Anthony Wiener embarassment, but rather about the deep-rooted racial slurs that take a toll on the self-perception of a black person — namely, being compared to a monkey.

I want you to not resort to Trayvon Martin or somehow link this to the go-to excuse of how hundreds of black kids kill each other each year in Chicago, but instead to really focus on the harm that is done to a black leader that is supposed to be a representation of the black potential being taunted and disrespected in such a manner, robbing them of their potential and those that look up to them.

Are we really in a post-racial era? How are young black kids suposed to dream and aspire to be leaders when they see current black leaders being called monkies?

Need I even mention the numerous times President Obama was called "The First Monkey Preisdent"?


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Teklehaymanot Yilma

Political Science student at San Jose State University, California. Studied European Integration and Middle East conflict resolution while studying abroad at Science Po Lille, France. Have worked for the district office of Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Organizing for America and the Department of Veterans Affairs

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