Black Italian women are still invisible, in the Italian media. Their portrayal in Italian media is unfortunately still stereotypical, which I explained in my article about my long stay in Italy. Yet, there are extraordinary women who work in their own way to make a difference. This is not an exhaustive list, they are black Italian women who inspire me deeply. Let us start with the political field.
Black Italian women in politics
Cécile Kyenge, the first black Italian woman in Italy
In April 2013, Cécile Kyenge became Minister for Integration. When she took office, racist and xenophobic insults and attacks by far-right politicians were rampant. At a political meeting, some people threw her bananas, Roberto Calderoli, a right-wing Italian politician, compared Cécile Kyenge to an orangutan. A politician had talked about her saying “someone has to kill that stupid, useless whore”, and so on and so forth. This did not discourage her from abandoning politics. Her persistence teaches us a lot.
Today, Cécile Kyenge is a member of the European Parliament. Even if there are few black Italian politicians, another black woman politician, recently hit the front pages.
Antonella Bundu, first Italian black candidate for mayor of Florence
Antonella Bundu, her name may ring a bell: a few months ago, she was in the headlines. She was the first black Italian woman to run for mayor in an Italian city.
Born in Florence, she lived part of her life in Sierra Leone before moving to Liverpool. Her experience in Liverpool became a turning point in her life. The current economic recession and police brutality against black people have led to riots in the city. That’s when her passion for politics began. In this video, she explains the current political situation in Italy and her reasons of candidacy.
Two women politicians with different backgrounds but who mark the political landscape by their courage and perseverance.
Maria Benedicta Chigbolu is a Nigerian-Italian athlete. She started her career when she was 16 years old. She won several medals with the 4X400m relay. She won the 2018 Mediterranean Games, she won the bronze medal at the European Championship in 2016. She recently won an other bronze medal in the 2019 IAAF World Relays.
Daisy is a discus thrower. Her parents from Nigeria came to Italy in the 1990s. Sport is a family affair, her father was a judoka and her mother a handball player. She started her career as a female hurdler. However, she switched discipline for the discus throw. Her most recent title was in July 2019, when she won the gold medal at the Universidades de Naples. Daisy hit the headlines because of a racist attack.
Loretta Grace is an Italian black beauty singer and female Youtuber, of Nigerian and African-American backgrounds. She made a name for herself on the music scene, performing the role of Whoopi Goldberg in a musical comedy cover of Sister Act. She created her Youtube channel to value diversity within the beauty industry. On her Youtube channel, she talks about makeup and other topics with her guests. These guests share their experiences and address specific topics, for example, as a man wearing make-up, or self-esteem while growing up in Italy as a woman of Chinese origin.
Under the pseudonym Darkchocolatecreature, we have a woman named Bellamy. She is part of the Afroitaliansouls team. This blog aims to promote the talented people of the Afro-Italian diaspora but also of the African diaspora in different fields from singers to directors.
A YouTube girl I discovered by chance last year and that I really appreciate. Judith is a young black Italian YouTube girl, of Ghanaian descent. Her smile, charm and beautiful hair, do not leave you indifferent. Her YouTube channel (only in Italian) covers a wide range of subjects such as love, self-confidence and also introduces you to Ghanaian culture. If you don’t want to forget your Italian, now is the time to subscribe.
Literature and Media
Igiaba Scego is a writer, journalist and postdoctoral researcher. Her work mirrors the complexities a dual heritage can cause. Her first novel, entitled “La nomade che amava Alfred Hitchcock” was published in 2003. This novel tells a real story, of her mother, who fled the civil war after the fall of President Siad Barre. The dual heritage, migration, and colonialism are part of the main topics of her literary works. She also writes columns in the weekly magazine “Internazionale” and in the newspaper “Il Manifesto”.
Johanne Affricot is a freelance consultant in communication and events. She comes from Rome. She is the founder of Griot magazine, a magazine that shares the same purpose as the Afrotialiansouls website, to promote the talents of the Afro-descendant diaspora across various fields. It is a way for Johanne to give a more realistic representation of the diaspora and but also plural and diverse, from what we see in the traditional Italian media.
Doris is a young black Italian rapper of Eritrean origin. She made a name for herself last year with her freestyle VSXI, covering the beat of “Man’s not hot”. Her style is rather trap mixed with gangsta rap, talking about her success and people’s jealousy. She is a promising talent in the Italian rap scene. I let you judge for yourself by listening to her last track.
Vhelade is an Afro-Italian artist, of Zairo and Sardinian descent. She began her career at 18, as a singer and dancer, in Piero Chambretti’s show “Markette”. Then she stands on her own two feet. Her first album, “Afrosarda”, released in 2017, mixed different genres together. In this video for example, we can feel Sade’s influence.
Evelyne Sarah Afaawua is the head of Nappy Italia Eco Bio Cosmetics. The creation of her company started from a Facebook group she created 6 years ago. The aim of this group was to bring together all Afro-Italians who wanted to take care of their natural hair. She decided then to create her own company. After two years of research, her eco-organic products for Afro natural hair are launched on the market.
We finish this non-exhaustive list on a fashion touch. Stella Jean is an Italian-Haitian fashion designer and is considered to be the leading Afro-Italian fashion designer. Her creations express her dual Italian-Haitian heritage, mixing Creole, African and Mediterranean influences. In 2011, Stella jean made a name for herself in the fashion industry, by winning the Who’s On Next contest. In 2013, she introduced her collection in Giorgio Amani’s prestigious event room. In 2014, she showed her collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, as part of the exhibition “The Italian Glamour of 1945-2014”.
And there is more
Italy is not lacking in talented black Italian women.
- Esperance H. Ripanti is passionate about literature and engages in cultural activism.
- Tezetà Abraham is a model and actress.
- Pamela & Paola Ameyibor, are hairdressers and DJs.
- Angela, a Nappy influencer, values natural hair. You find her under the name NaturAngi on Instagram.