Going back to Italy is never easy (I hardly ever say ‘home’ nowadays: after nearly ten years in the UK I’m not quite sure where ‘home’ is). Every time I come back I see things I find profoundly unsettling.
I see an impoverished country; I see anger, resentment, fear. I see scapegoating and increasing hostility towards migrants. I hear objectifying language on a daily basis: ‘it’s too many of them’; ‘they are not that desperate’; ‘we have to help them in their own country’. Them, the others, the foreigners, they who are not like us. Speech groups individuals together into an amorphous and mysterious entity: faceless, devoid of passions and desires; beings without a story. I shudder to think where the objectification, the othering of the migrant might lead. It’s mounting slowly but steadily. It’s now normal, ordinary.
The violence of this language bewilders me. I bite my tongue, I try not to lose my temper but I find it increasingly difficult, especially when these words come from loved ones.
Yet, I don’t want to admit defeat: We need to talk about racism. We really do. I must engage in conversation but I don’t want to take the moral high ground; I don’t want to sound querulous or sanctimonious; I don’t want to be aggressive. If I alienate my interlocutor, I achieve nothing.
It’s a bomb. It’s ticking. I must do something to defuse it but I am yet to find the language to do it.
(Any advice is very welcome)