Italy as the USA in the ‘50s

We receive and we publish a review by Roberto Malini: “Città dal cuore di metallo” (A city with an iron heart). This was sent via email to by poet and writer Hamid Barole Abdu.

“Città dal cuore di metallo” is a short report of what is happening in Pesaro, Italy, between Italian institutions, citizens, poor people and everyone that is seen as different

Pesaro, 18 December 2008

It is a sad rainy day. But it’s not the rain that makes it sad. We makes it, we Italians, we human beings for whom no rain can wash away the garbage of racism, of intolerance, of hatred.

A few days ago I was seated in a bar, here in Pesaro, with a close friend. There were people of all ages passing by and stopping inside, just to make sure christmas presents were not damaged by rain.

At some point a colored man has entered, he was on average 35 years old. He sold umbrellas. He wanted to cross the bar from one door to the other just to step in a dry place for a while. The bartender, behind the bench, has raised itself in tip of its feet, has assumed a threatening tone and yelled at him: “I say it to you for the last time, you can’t get inside here”. The customers agreed, fixing the man with hostility. A woman whispered the usual phrase: “Not again. Why don’t they go back where they come from”. With a battered look, he was about to exit when l called him: “Ehi, why don’t you join us for a coffee?”. He smiled and hesitated for a while, then, noticing that we were really friendly, he took a seat. He preferred a cappuccino, that I have quickly ordered: ” A cappuccino for the signore (mister)”.

The other customers were astounded. The bartenders watched with interrogative expressions, loaded with disdain. It seemed a 1950’s Montgomery, Alabama (USA), scenario. The man was sipping his cappuccino and he was smiling. He said that he came to Italy because he had no jobs in Nigeria and no way of living. “But today nothing is sold,” indicating the bunch of umbrellas of all colors.

We had a conversation also about soccer, Inter Milan, the Italian team he supports and the Nigeria team, one of the strongest in Africa.

When he exited, with its umbrellas, people have finally stopped to fix our small table with bad looks.

Recently I defined Pesaro like “the city with an iron heart” in reference to the famous “ball” of Arnaldo Pomodoro, a monument that is also one of the symbols of the city, but above all is the symbol of the intolerance that has gotten hold of the Institutions, the authorities and great part of the citizenship.

One day a policeman asked me if I was really so sure of my opinion about Pesaro, that the city is a racist one. “I appreciate the engagement of your group against racism”, he said, “but are you really convinced that in Pesaro everybody feels the same way?”. I answered that I am not convinced that Pesaro is a racist city. There are also people who fight for a fair and open multiethnic city. In Pesaro I have had the honor to know an extraordinary woman engaged in the daily help of sick people who do not receive cures, the poor ones who do not receive attendance, the Roma people that comes assaulted, threatened so that they abandon the city.

At the same time, though, politicians, authorities and the press of Pesaro, Fano and of other nearby cities leads an intolerant campaign towards Roma people, colored and poor people.

I followed the story of some homeless people of the city of Fano during their revolt against the city’s social services. “What do you expect from us?” a social worker asked them. “A place to sleep at night and the opportunity to carry out any job, even humble and with little pay”. “You come to the wrong address” they answered, “because we are neither a hotel nor a job office”.

In Pesaro is the same. The social services do not take care of the poor citizens, but they do about politicians and the most influential citizens, those that for sure do not have holes in their shoes.

Promoted from political rallies, the racial hatred spreads anywhere. Formally politicians always said that they will take care of homeless, but in fact the houses allowed to accept them they do so just for a little period of time: three days, a week, ten days, a month just for the lucky ones.

To have a meal is not a right but a venture: four in a month, two in a week. The same goes for garments. People donates them to charities, but in order to receive a sweater or a pair of pants, people have to go through a lot of hardship. People begging in the streets are saw as criminals.

In these christmas days, Pesaro celebrates the symbols of the birth of Jesus, without understanding that the Saviour came to light in an occupied house and that his mother lived by begging in the streets.

If this happened nowadays, citizens would call the Police immediately signaling the presence of disliked people.

All the papers would be done quickly and a social worker would try to take away the Child from Giuseppe and Maria, and give him to another family.

Merry Christmas to Pesaro with an iron heart and merry Christmas to Fano “enlightened like a comet”.

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