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I had a very interesting conversation yesterday with an African-American now living here in Rome. I brought up the subject of racism and asked him what his experience has been since being here. Many warned us, including an Italian, that discrimination was rampant in Rome and being a biracial family, we might encounter some hostility. We have experienced nothing, however, except warmth and kindness, and an overabundant generosity of candy. I was wondering perhaps if this was because our daughter was just a child and if his experience had been more along the lines of what we had been told. He replied that he, too, had been warned and was quite nervous about moving here but, as I did, was following love so was willing to risk. And like us, he has experienced nothing but kindness (if not so much candy). What is so incredible, though, is he said that it was the first time in his life he wasn’t constantly aware of being black. He explained that in the US, as a black man, he was always black first. That wherever he went, whatever he did, he felt his blackness reflected back at him. But here, he’s an American first. When people see him, talk to him, they are talking to an American, not a “black American.” As he told me his story, he reached his arms wide and he reached them high, and smiled.


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