Friday, October 21, 2011

The problems of black or mixed race children in Italy

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 to cater for the social and educational needs of these children.

In an exclusive interview with Africa News, 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 biracial 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 this country. 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.

Read the full story at

Website of Association of Afro-Italian Children

See also on Afro-Europe:
The challenges of biracial children in Russia
Bi-racial children in the Ukraine - "Family Portrait in Black and White"

Side bar

A news item reported that a “Racist” couple was barred from adopting children in Italy.

An Italian couple’s adoption bid was denied after they said in their application that they did not want “dark-skinned” children.

An appeal court in Sicily ruled that the couple were unfit to adopt children of any description, local media reported.

A child protection agency took the couple to court after they submitted an application in Catania, in eastern Sicily, saying they were “prepared to take in up to two children… regardless of sex or religion, but… not with dark skin.”

The court ordered a magistrate who reviews adoption requests to ignore such specifications, then took things a step further, ruling that any such “racist” couple should not be allowed to adopt at all.


  1. Wow! It amazes me that there would be such and issue with someone calling themselves Afro- Italian. Basically saying they are Black should be ok. But i use to think that kids don't see color but they do. And they learn it at home obviously! If i were a teacher i would have corrected that child right away. The problem is when you do nothing to help the child in pain. Basically you're just like the kids who were degrading the victim.Black will always be looked at as a negative if we don't do something to change that. But the sad part is that so many of us Black people don't love themselves enough to do anything. We want to fit in so badly that we will accept anything. I really loved reading this and i take my hate off to Sabrina Jacobucci who is trying to make a difference. No matter how difficult it is

  2. Marcellino A. ConstantinoNovember 15, 2011 at 8:05 PM

    Hello. After reading this article I would like to share my journey and experiences with this "Multicutural racism".
    I am 17 years of age. Offspring to a women of African-American descent and a father of Sicilian descent. Born in America and rasied Sicily,Italy by my father and his wife who is of purto rican descent. My mother was and still is a traveling nurse, which is how I came about in the first place. I struggle sometimes when people ask me what I consider myself as, because through my thick accent and heavily curled hair my brown toned skin confuses them. Although I was born in america and I am of dual citizenship between the U.S. and Italia...I consider my nationality to be European and my ethnicity to be Afro-Italian.

  3. Hi Marcellino, thanks for your comment! We debate a lot about these issues on this blog, so it's interesting to hear your opinion.

  4. .
    The following link contains information on the racist, reeking,
    odious, ODR ('One-Drop Rule') -- which, thank goodness,
    has finally been legally "cleared from the air" of the USA:
    Related Links:

  5. Black right along with any other race is a beautiful thing. Never deny your african american side. Thats what make you unique. Love yourself for who you are and you can always be around the people you look up to whether black,white, italian, or whatever love yourself to the fulliest.

  6. I am an a American Blackman and i find it absolutly crazy that no matter where we are born and what nationality's we may be mixed with we are still not accepted with respect and dignity as human being. and all these so called god fearing people are just phony. hiding behind religion.

  7. I live in Italy, I am white North American and my husband is mixed race Cuban. We have two kids. We live in the North of Italy, considered more "progressive" than the relatively "backward" (as it is known) south. I have lived here for nearly 20 years and the first 15 I was in love with the place and the people. Sincve the arrival of my husband ans seeing how he is treated on a daily basis has changed my opinion 100%. My husband has been told to go back home, has been refused entry on a train before showing his ticket (not done) because "you people never buy tickets", he is followed by security guards at the supermarket and so on. People talk to him as though he is a criminal or an idiot and when i am with him, talk to me the same way. Italy on the whole is racist. Not only against black people but also against anyone, even their own - there are derogatory names for southern Italians even. I saw a black doctor the other day and almost fell over in shock - then wondered what his life must be like here... As soon as we can, we will leave. I refuse to bring up my kids here past a certain age. Sad but true. Even me and my kids were called "disgusting" by another kid in the park because we were speaking English (my kids are pale skinned and no one can tell their origin from just looking at them... at least not so far...). So help me if ANYONE treated my children badly because of their origin, I will raise hell.

  8. Shall I continue? I have a friend here from NYC who is black and he has been treated like an idiot for years. He has been asked if there are traffic lights in his country. I met a black French woman here who was shocked. She told me that in France she worked at a bank but she will NEVER get that kind of job here (true). She said when she went to the pool with her son, people treated him as though he were a doll. I was told by a cab driver that black people are nice but he would be furious if his daughter ever came home with a black boyfriend. When I told him my husband was black he nearly drive off the road which was somewhat satisfying if not a bit scary. People use the polite form (Lei) with me when I am alone but the informal (tu) with me when I am with my husband. My husband is routinely stopped by the police at the station for ID checks, as is my above mentioned American friend when he is going to work wearing a suit and tie. He has been told the cops are instructed to check black males only and routinely. Once a cop stopped my husband and when I identified myself, they let him go. Need I go on? My husband regularly takes one of the kids with him to run errands because Italians love kids and therefore treat him better when he is with a small child. We really cannot take it anymore...

  9. EPB, thanks for sharing your story. It’s important that these stories are told.

  10. Epb,

    Race is being scapegoated for economic or other problems. Blacks were just as unjust to Indians on Guyana. And they are bad to whites in SA. Hatred is part of all people, unfortunately, not just Italians. People will find excuses to hate someone for even the minutest difference. In India, people of lower castes who are identical in appearance to uppercasts are hated. Don't become negative, otherwise you'll be a hater.

    1. I think wanting to live where you're treated just like everyone else can be distinguished from spending your time hating on another group in particular or singling someone out and making uncalled-for, unnecessary negative comments about them.

      The latter is an offensive scenario and the former is a defensive scenario. No one wants to wake up every morning knowing that's what's in store for them.

  11. "Blacks were just as unjust to Indians on Guyana." I'm scratching my eyes thinking I've forgotten how to read. I see why you identified as Anon. Indians in Guyana have a long history of racism and discrimination against blacks and mixed-race people, even against their own who choose to marry/date black or mixed-race people. Please take the time to really know the history of the country before spreading lies.

  12. Greetings:

    You are invited to read a fresh, fascinating and timely contribution to the current topical issue of inter-racial families.

    Johnny Williams, a debonair likeable young graduate student, raised by a loving adoptive elderly couple started his life journey as an abandoned one day-old, in a basket left at a Westchester church-front. His birth mother was a teenage blond blue-eyed student who returned to her university in California; unable to find peace, even later as a professional magazine editor. Due to Johnny’s hair being peculiarly tangled from birth, he’s forced to permanently keep his hair in braids and to adopt the name DADA because he firmly believes his birth mother must have been from West Africa. His university degree course in Social Anthropology may have been subconsciously driven by his burning desire to find the mother that abandoned him at birth. His fascination with the Yoruba culture leads him on some adventurous travels with many twists and turns while he is also privileged to meet and make friends with some elderly intellectuals along the way.
    JOURNEY OF HOPE OR DESTINY adopts Yoruba philosophical worldview to narrate a story that reflects the global influence of race and social construct on different cultures.

    The insightful new eBook title is published by Amazon Kindle eBook. Please visit:

    You may also borrow to read from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library on,, and
    It is an ideal eBook title as supplementary reading in Social Anthropology, Sociology and Humanities.

    Best Regards
    Raymond Ladebo

  13. Why are blacks always complaining about other races?I am black but sometimes I get tired of black people.Italians never invited you in their country and if you aren't happy there just fuck off.Is that hard to do?

    1. Conversely, why do racist Whites complain about Blacks even dedicating websites to their hatred of us? Whites were never invited to SA, yet some of them in SA complain about the way their being treated. I guess those Whites should just f off too?

  14. Hey Anonimous you are obviously not black, you are just another anti-blacks Italian racists.

  15. It's just like the USA. Racism against mixed race people which is far worse than racism against Blacks. Hey, at least Blacks aren't confusing. Mixed race people, they're very confusing and difficult to tell. Even Italian and American parents want their children to marry monoracials, preferably their own race, so that way their grandchildren won't look confusing to them.

  16. Would definitely say the majority of italians are racist even though some have very dark skin and almost look arab
    White women of italy heritage who have black partners will face racism also.. lots of black men who date non black women seem to think that they have entitlement or acceptance in the white race just because you have a white partner..sadly if you don't like these racist behaviours then go elsewhere or fight it out..
    These issues are fears and insecurities are concealed in most natives of the country and are only revealed when faced with the fear.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...