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Finding My Place as a Black British Woman in South Italy (And Why I Left)

The morning I drafted this essay about racism in Italy, a little seed of doubt began to sprout. I looked through my bullet point list of experiences and shook my head. There was no way I could write about this topic. 

What right did I have, as a foreigner, to speak about racial politics in a country I’d lived in and left? Where did I get off whining about these things; shouldn’t I have known I’d experience ignorance if I moved away from the UK? I struck a line through my notes and decided to shut up.

I had enjoyed my life in Italy, and that was all that mattered. I’d settled in quickly — registering at the town hall, landing a job and finding a flat within my first week — and spent my weekends eating, praying and loving my way around the southwestern region of Puglia. Since I’d studied the language for five years and had a network of locals ready to help, navigating the country’s notorious bureaucracy was seamless. Friendly locals invited me for beachside lunches of focaccia, and a fellow Black British woman, Naomi*, took me under her wing. Surely that meant I had nothing to complain about?