This past Wednesday evening, November 20th, I got the privilege of sitting in on the event hosted by Ewan, Benedicta Djumpah and Marta. Benedicta is the Student Life Assistant here at TU Rome. Ewan is the founder of The Cultural Identity Envoy Program, and Marta teaches a political science course here at TU Rome. This event centered around the current and historical political climate in Europe and Italy specifically. The panel was between 3 students from the Manara High School, all of whom eloquently and analytically picked apart and described their experiences within the current political sphere in Italy.
It was very interesting to hear young folks describe their worries and observations growing up in within these politics. I found that there were extensive parallels that could be drawn between the U.S. and Italy’s politics and how we as a generation are choosing to respond to the atrocities and injustices of our time. One of the main things that I took away from this discussion was the students mention of lack of representation within the political sphere and structure here in Italy. They said, many people do not feel as if they are represented properly, therefore, when it comes down to making democratic decisions about who should hold power, many times people end up choosing the lesser of the evils. Much like what we see within the states, there is a lack of representation in positions and structures of power and control, and consequently many people remain helpless and unacknowledged, which causes harm and destruction.
Fascism was another topic heavily discussed towards the end of the event, which I also found gave me more profound insight about Italy itself, and yet again I felt many parallels could be drawn to how liberals exist in the states. There was a lot mentioned about specific fascist organizations and movements that have held space in Europe and Italy–all three students spoke about their perception that many Italians think that if you are anti-fascist then you are automatically not racist as well.
This idea made me think a lot about politics in the U.S as well, specifically during Obama’s time in office. For many white liberals, his mere position as president symbolized to many, that we were living in a post-racial society, and those who voted for him were automatically excused from their racist tendencies and conditioning. I think both of these ideas and realities can be applied to American and Italian politics.
I appreciate the power and eloquence in the ways in which these students described their knowledge and personal experiences growing up in the Italian political climate and how it has shaped their identities in various forms. In many moments listening to them, I was reminded that the personal is political. In sharing space with them, it has made me further understand Italy, and my presence here, as well as the U.S and how my identity has been shaped by the politics of my location.