Friday, July 13, 2007

Coffee & racism

Coffee and racism, what an unfortunate combination! Especially at breakfast time. I was at one of my neighborhood bars, still half asleep, waiting for my cappuccino and cornetto when in walks a foreign man who very politely asks for directions to the nearby health clinic. The barista answers him abruptly.
Once the man had left, the barista starts going off on a racist tirade about foreigners in Rome, how he’s so sick of them, and how they shouldn’t be allowed to have free health care, etc. (Those of you who live in Rome or Italy are probably all too familiar with this tirade. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve heard it!). I tried to keep my mouth shut, but I just couldn’t. “Ahem... You might want to be careful about what you say, because I too am a foreigner”.
And so began the debate but apparently, the fact that I’m American makes me exempt from Mr. Racist Barista’s foreigner hatred. Did I forget to mention the polite man who asked for directions was of Slavic origin? I tried to reason with Mr. Racist Barista, tried to invalidate his stereotypes, tried to plead my case that everybody deserves health care and everybody pays for it with their tax money. All in vain. He’s convinced all Eastern immigrants are criminals, thieves, and moochers. And I’m convinced I’ll NEVER go to that bar again.


Kataroma said...

Ugh - this is all too familiar here unfortunately. The bar across the street from us is similarly racist. Boyfriend (who is foreign) was going in there every morning for an orzo and cornetto and they never responded to his "buongiorno" and used to make him wait while they served all the Italians. Last time I was there the "regulars" were going on and on about how the "Chinese never wash" (weird, I thought it was the Italians and French who never washed...)

It makes me unconfortable to be an object of racism or foreigner hatred so I avoid that bar. But it's all too common unfortunately.

I usually remind Italians that they have immigrated in the thousands to my country - so they should have some understanding of immigrants to their country. But they usually counter that with "but Italians are different - we're just better than everyone else" or some such.

Romerican said...

yep, it's a very ugly habit. i also use that same point you mentioned about italians being immigrants all over the world and how back then, they were considered dirty, low-class peasants in many of these places. you'd think they'd have sympathy for people who are going through the same trials and tribulations!

Calabrisella said...

CHE Gavone!
racism is everywhere!

e triste...
we are all immigrants in this world! especially italians.. we move around so much...

i will post the recipe, for you, on mercoledi... for 'whats cooking wensday'


Piccola said...

Oh boy...I just came across your blog and read this entry to Ale and it opened a whole can of worms. I'd write it all here but, it would take up all of your comment space, so, I think I will have the Italian be a guest blogger and write his perspective. Be warned, I am American and I love all cultures so I may not share the same sentiment, plus I don't live there, so I don't know. I will say that I am Mexican American and have strong feelings about the immigration debate here in the U.S. This country would suffer without the work of Mexican immigrants, but that's a whole other debate. Tutto il muondo e un paese.