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The “silent” racism of Asian Hate and the state of racism in Italy

The sketch aired on Striscia La Notizia is connected to a very broad phenomenon, not a silent one, with many consequences

By Francesca Parravicini

It may seem paradoxical but there are forms of racism that are considered to be more quiet than others or not even considered as such. Instead if we look at things more carefully, we realize that they are a product of something greater, of a system where a of violence is contained. The expressions are different but in the end the root is always the same.

But let's start with the embarrassing (there is no other way to define it) event that triggered this discussion: on the early evening of April 12, in an episode of Striscia La Notizia, Michelle Hunziker and Gerry Scotti introduced a service on the Rai headquarters in Beijing with a vaguely stale sketch, where they ridiculously mimiced almond-shaped eyes and imitated the way in which Chinese people pronounce the letter -r.

A moment that could have plunged into the cauldron of early evening television if it had not been documented by content creator Louis Pisano and reposted by the iconic account Diet Prada, that unmasks the “crimes” of fashion and often denounces racism in media and beyond.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Diet Prada ™ (@diet_prada)

For the umpteenth time, Italy has found itself at the center of the cultural debate and certainly not in a good light. And despite the apologies, the angry reaction of those who speak of the usual bore of the “politically correct at all costs” and the fact that we can no longer make satire.

The satire strikes with irony and sarcasm strong powers and institutions, but in this case we are talking about an ethnic minority: and all this, sorry not sorry, is racism. It does not have the destructive force of violence but is often an antechamber of it and has a perhaps more subtle erosive power: it’s a psychological violence that attacks people for genetic and innate characteristics, reducing them to something comic, to a caricature that should make you laugh, but it certainly does not make those who experience them firsthand laugh.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Acrimònia Magazine (@acrimoniamagazine)

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Momoka 🍌 Ragazza Banana (@momokabanana)

Asian Hate is a phenomenon not that well-known but with a sadly ancient history. Just think of the way in which, for nearly a century, Hollywood has portrayed Asian people as caricatures, particularly (how strange) women, reducing them to exotic temptresses or submissive figures without a will.

Countries like China, Japan and Korea are often confused and molded in a kind of maxi-entity, because their inhabitants “are all the same”, almond-eyed creatures with bizarre and incomprehensible habits. And to demonstrate the fact that cultural racism is a fuse that leads to more destructive things, over the last year we have seen a dizzying growth in hate crimes against Asian people, that in an incredible display of ignorance, have been consider the cause of the spread of Covid-19.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Diet Prada ™ (@diet_prada)

The story of Striscia's comic sketch may seem trivial from our western perspective, but let's imagine that we are the foreign minority in a country and we grow up surrounded by people who make fun of our way of being. Is it still a joke?

This “watered down” racism seems to be a typically Italian phenomenon. For example, in the United States the problem of race is unfortunately still extremely widespread and has an extremely violent matrix but from a cultural and mediatic point of view, gestures and phrases are generally publicly condemned (there are always exceptions of course); in Italy there are cases of violence but at the same time there is also a form of cultural racism, almost casual, which is often not condemned on the contrary, it’s considered satire and humor.

Instead, it’s nothing more than the spy of a mentality that still struggles to accept a multicultural society, with many identities, that are not the enemy but have a history worthy of being valued and not ridiculed. And it is precisely for this reason that we must start from the small things.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Acrimònia Magazine (@acrimoniamagazine)