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Italy and Immigration

Posted on Dec 1, 2008 | 11 comments

There is a lot I could say on this topic, but I will leave the photo and the links I’ll mention to do most of the talking. Just want to say that immigration isn’t really something I ever thought about growing up as a white, middle-class American, not until I came to live in Italy for the first time in 2001 and all of a sudden I was a foreigner (“straniera“). I was the one struggling to communicate simple words, my personality, my intellect. It is still something I think about almost everyday, no matter how well I speak Italian, and is something that will stay with me as long as I live here. And honestly, as an American, I have it easy compared to a lot of nationalities.

This sign is the first of a series by CGIL, one of the oldest labor rights organizations in Italy, aimed at ending racism and starting a dialogue about immigration. You can read more about the aims of the campaign here. The sign reads “Italian”/”Foreigner,” “Skin has many colors. Blood only one. Against racism, equal rights for citizens. Voting rights, equal civil rights for immigrants.” For a peak inside the situation here in Italy, where immigration is a relatively new phenomena, there is an excellent article (translated from Italian) about the current situation and the Bossi-Fini laws. For something really scary, read a bit more about Bossi and the Lega Nord, which sadly did well this last election cycle and is promoting all sort of anti-immigrant sentiment.

Italy is young yet in this situation, let’s hope it continues to grow and realize that “stranieri” aren’t so bad.


  1. Welcome to my followers. Your blog is full of moments of live, very interesting and smart.

  2. Thank you Livio! Glad to have discovered your blog and look forward to seeing your other photos.

  3. Italy has had immigrants for literally its entire urban history-nearly 3000 years-so immigration is not new. Neither is racism or discrimination. It is simply socially acceptable and I dont think either of those unfortunate things will be going away any time soon. Not as long as Bossi and his cronies have their soapbox and prey on the young, disenfranchised or just plain provincial. I am hopeful that in Italy’s cities where many schools have large minority populations that children grow up open minded and accepting, an opportunity many of their parents, evidently, did not have. Until those children are running the government, renting the houses, and hiring employees to work for them, Italy’s race relations will be in dire straits.

  4. I definitely agree that, just as with many problems around the world, we have to look to the newer generation. I do hope that as people grow up in a more multi cultural society here, they will learn not to fear or judge as much. Many problems stem simply from prejudice, stereotype, and fear of the unknown. Unfortunately I don’t this will ever go away, but I hope campaigns like this one will get people thinking.

  5. That’s a great campaign that says it all!

  6. As a black American I am no fan of Lega Nord.

    I hope Italy does not repeat the mistakes America made/still making (post Obama’s election hate crimes have gone up).

    I agree the younger generation is the key.

  7. JM – Yes, I was happy when I started seeing these signs around. I think it sends a positive message.

    NYC – Sad to hear about the rise in hate crimes. I hope that once Obama gets in office people who had before been ignorant about things will learn a little toleration and transfer that into their everyday lives.

  8. Until I moved from the UK to the small island I now live on too had never encountered any sort of racism. We are refered to as comeovers here. Interesting post and ood to show all sides to a place.

  9. babooska – Thanks for your comment. Interesting, I wouldn’t have thought there would be that issue on the Isle of Man, but shows what I know! I think the more we exchange ideas about each place, the more we’ll all realize that nowhere is that different (good or bad).

  10. Hi Rebecca….interesting post! This campaign ended last year and I haven't seen more around lately, but there are often new ones, so I'll take a pic the next time I see one and will let you know!

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