Initially, I request to be pardoned for using words such as white people or black people. In this context, I use the words to simply best describe my characters.
The film begins with my move to Italy. Looking back, my mind was already subjected and prepared to expect the worst in terms of discrimination based on the experiences of the ones before me, and yes, I did face racism. It elevated ceaselessly subjecting me to base all my misfortunes on “racism”. However, with time, I experienced and met others who had worse stories to tell, stories incomparable to mine, my stories began to seem like funny sitcoms. I wrote so many unpublished articles on this subject, articles fueled with hate and rage, many were the times I wanted to go back home. However, I saw this as a challenge, a case study, I took a pause and made a firm decision to reflect quietly.
It took me a few months to fully understand the European divisions, the Northern part is generally considered better than the southern, which coming down to unsaid universal laws the Northerners automatically look down on the southerners, while the southerners look up to the northerners for better opportunities, a repititive cycle we might say.
My view on racism re-directed to a point of conflict, on one side, I was angry on why I had to face hard times solely based on my skin, on the other side, adulthood, misfortunes and wild adventures set me up to see the world with a different set of eyes. Life gifted me the gamble to encounter people from every corner of the world. Allow me to set up two scenarios.
I once shared a flat with a girl from one of the countries in the South of Europe, happy to say there was an immediate connection, something that I desperately needed being miles away from my family. She never saw me as different or treated me with the stereotypes she had created in her head about Africans. Looking back, I feel guilty because when I first met her I had already placed my judgement even before we had a meaningful conversation.
Our friendship grew and flowered, we became more like family. She spoke her mind and was rightfully opinionated, but it was motivating for me as it was always topics that really mattered at the end of the day. We spoke about world hunger, ending poverty and the vanity that accompanies beauty and wealth. She never seemed uncomfortable around other black people like I constantly noticed with the others, for me it was a beautiful surprise. I was fresh in Europe and I was seeing something surreal, I could not believe this. My knowledge on life was taking an aggressive turn around.
Sometimes we disagreed and later laughed about it, but she was different.
She saw the slurs, insults and cases of discrimination I went through on a day to day basis. I could see it in her eyes that she felt bad for me. I never expressed this to her because I knew she would never understand. One evening she came in to my room casually and said this exact words, “You are literally my first African friend, but hanging out with you these last months made me understand how big racism is. However, I think people are just miserable, people suffering from misery will always look for ways to release their misery onto others, it is really never about you being Jewish, white, black or Asian, is just about them being unhappy with their personal lives.”
It was right before lunch, a quiet day in the office. A female European colleague came in and requested to have a quick word with me, I stepped out.
“Hey, so I am doing this project on immigration, I wanted to ask you if you are free to feel out an oral questionnaire?” She said with a big smile on her face staring directly at me.
“Okay!” I replied.
We head out and choose a desk next to the reception, the questions begin. One of the questions triggered my never ending curiosity.
“Why do you think that immigrants from Asian and African countries have a hard time in Europe while in contrary Europeans are treated exceptionally good in Africa and other developing regions?” I asked.
You see, this is a trick question, even a 5 year old knows the answer, looking at this from an obvious view, it is quite simple.
“Well, because when white people go to Africa they live in the good places, ” she answerd, “they do not need to ask the locals or the Government for help, ” she continued.
“What do you mean?” I asked knowing very well what she meant.
“Well you cannot compare how Africans settle in Europe and how Europeans settle in Africa.” She says.
“And what do you think causes this?” I asked.
“Because Africa is poor,” she says, dismissing the Asian part, “and why do you think Africa is poor?” I asked, she goes silent and continues with the questions.
These are questions not to understand the Government or the economy, but to simply understand the ability of an individual to have a thinking process guided by empathy and a good understanding of sensitive topics, the core of humanity. Her thinking made me curious as to why she chose to work in the humanitarian sector with this sort of thought process.
“Migrants come here because they are poor, hence they are treated different, Europeans go to Africa and they get good treatment because well, they are fortunate, the euro is great and they really do not require help from the locals or the Government.”
You see, the issue on racism is very personal. Anyone who feels the need to look down on others based on the mark on their fore head, race, religion, tribe, beauty etc. sad to say, is someone who probably lacks greatly in their personal lives. Becoming an adult is understanding that many adults make their everyday decisions based on trauma and past experiences. The chain continues, and as long as this energy is consumed, we can never break the chain.
A child raised in an independent home, a home that guides on the prominence of freedom, validation of opinions and acceptance of mistakes, grows very different from a child brought up in a home whereby the parents continuously exert their point of view on the children.
A child from an open-minded family will be taught that going out drinking and dancing and coming home in the morning is part of youth which passes, dating is normal, and you should never settle, speaking up when offended is the right path to create a world where there is justice, mistakes are normal and are part of growth and maturity, such children are mostly seen as rebels which puts them constantly in seclusion making them understand independence at a young age.
However, a child who grows in a conservative home is taught different, drinking and going out is a bad character, dating is embarrassing and lowers value and speaking out is disrespect, such children are constantly punished for their “mistakes” physically or emotionally, which makes them live in a world of co-dependence and conformity.
Both of these scenarios have their positives and negatives, which does not make any better than the other. But both of these children will grow up to view life very differently. Already, an enormous gap has been created in the world.
I base this on many topics including the beginning of racism. I urge people to understand that hate is barely a you problem, hate is an individual problem that grows within a person on a day to day basis and just like light it cannot be contained, hence it spreads to others.
Generally I think that life is not fair, but we deal the cards we are dealt. A horrible person is just a horrible person no matter how they look or where they come from.
I urge people from developing countries to ensure that everyday they do something to establish that in days and years to come they can bring honor and respect to their motherland, and this should be the only point of focus.