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Racism in Italy – Part 4 – Civil Rights

There has never been a need for civil rights movements in Europe like those in the United States or South Africa because no minority was ever brought here against their will, they were never there in the first place (they were not natives), but they came to fill open job positions as the old continent was in need of labor at the time.

The only recent episode of segregation I can think of was during Nazism, against the Jews. The war was lost, people were set free and efforts were made to not let it happen again.

The question is: have there ever been protests and movements for the rights of ethnic minorities in Europe, in general?

I can’t speak on behalf of 50 countries, but I can tell that Italy had some sort of case, but I’m sure the same events occurred in other places in Europe.

 

Late 60’s, years known for the social protests, especially workers’ rights.

Technology rapidly changes labor and, at this time, the rural economy that was still ruling, especially in the South of Italy, was replaced by the industrial one.

The industrial areas of the North were blooming and in need of more workers, so we had a massive internal flow of people moving from the South to fill these job positions.

Meanwhile, the flourishing economy also attracted people from foreign countries.

Everyone was equal under the law, so the Constitution stated, but it wasn’t the same for employers, who still held prejudices and were acting in a discriminatory way. In fact, minorities (Southerners included) were paid wages lower than average.

The protests were successful and new laws concerning labor rights were written.

 

Unfortunately, labor rights are going lost once again. The high unemployment rate gives employers plenty of power: people desperately look for jobs and will accept any condition. If you refuse a job offer because the wage is too low, rest assured that there will be another candidate who will take it. Most of the time, it’s the migrants that will “gladly” do.

Here comes the saying “migrants steal our jobs.”

They don’t steal our jobs, but by accepting to be paid so little, companies lower salaries so much they are no longer enough for a person to reach financial independence and maintain a decent lifestyle, like renting a small apartment on their own, buying food and clothes, and paying the bills.

Some say “migrants do jobs that the local population doesn’t want to.”

True. However, it is not about getting hands dirty, but a matter of pay.

The middle class is about to disappear, but the middle-class mindset is not. Most natives don’t want to give up their comforts, the little amount of luxury they were used to.

I can’t really blame the employers. I know some personally. They have to be competitive in order to survive in this free global market; the only way available is to pay poorly. It’s a vicious cycle because poor workers are also poor customers, unable to buy and support local businesses, making them go bankrupt.

I think I’m going off-topic. Enough for today.

  • Does your country have a high unemployment rate?

    • Yes (over 20%)
    • Kind of (from 10% to 20%)
    • No (below 10%)
  • Are there people in your country who believe “migrants are stealing their jobs”?

    • Yes, many
    • Yes, just a few

What do you think?

14 points
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Written by sabtraversa

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21 Comments

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  1. Actually, Europe does need a civil rights movement because Portuguese traders brought slaves to Europe in the 15th century, 150 years before slaves were brought to the USA. Here’s a timeline.
    http://www.brycchancarey.com/slavery/chrono2.htm

    Also, do you live near Cagliari? They really need some help. Hopefully, things in Italy in regards to this topic has renewed optimism since Salvini was blocked from his attempt to become the Prime Minister.

    • Thanks for this info! I never knew there were slaves in Europe. Well, there were prisoners of war that were treated as such, but that didn’t necessarily involve race.
      I think the slave trade mentioned in that timeline was imported by the Arabs (Moors), as they invaded Southern Europe starting from the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). They only got completely rid of Moors about at the end of that century (15th).
      Colonization of the other continents took place at the same time, that’s where they “needed” field labor and such, despite it was committed by Europeans, it wasn’t exactly that popular in the old continent, but in colonies.
      As far as I can remember, from school, in America Europeans enslaved the natives first, but they were weak and didn’t last long, so they “had to” import Africans who were stronger and more resistant.

      I guess slavery in Europe was abolished early, perhaps thanks to the Catholic church. I bet most Europeans don’t even know it existed (well, I didn’t know until now).
      Colonies were different, white people in colonies tend to be more racist compared to those who stayed in Europe. The most racist Italian lady I’ve ever seen (in a video) was born in Eritrea, Eastern Africa, former Fascist colony.

      I live in the North West, not near Cagliari. Sardinia, the island where Cagliari is located, is quite poor and rural. Not all people are like the soccer team fans, but their environment may “keep their minds closed”.
      I’m afraid that Salvini being blocked from becoming the PM could actually backlash negatively on a social/popular level as many people think of him as a victim, or they believe their right to vote was not respected (but Italians are supposed to vote for the parliament, not for the government, and they did so last year).

      Such a long reply, sorry. πŸ˜…

      • There’s no need to apologize. I enjoy the reply. Your knowledge on this topic based upon your experience is insightful to me and should be insightful to those who have read any of the four parts of this series.

      • I felt some shame for the US inability to help at all as the crisis unfolded. I think that countries in Europe did very well considering how rapidly the situation unfolded and the fluidity with which it did so. Sometimes the right thing to do is not the easy thing but you have to something. It is hard not to have some compassion for people whose desperation causes them to flee a worn torn country that is in rubble and risk migrating with their children. It is not something done on a whim.
        If the people studying the “converging crises” that we face globally are correct we will face more of this in the near future.

        • In our case, migrants cross the sea and risk their death, so it’s pretty obvious it is not done on a whim. I’m afraid there’s more than just civil wars, the way they’re treated often makes me think there’s plenty of human trafficking involved. Actually, the majority of migrants landing here are fit healthy-looking men, they don’t evoke as much compassion as women with kids, hence why the increased amount of racism, among other things. They don’t just “steal jobs” but they “steal local women” too. πŸ˜‚
          I’m a little skeptical about “external help” for what it’s been so far, covering personal interests by swearing it was done selflessly, for good intentions. Then I don’t know how fair it was to reject the dialogues and concessions offered by the dictators (Syria and Libya). The US preferred to fight against secular governments instead of allying with them against the Islamic State, personally I’m not too happy about that. I mean, most refugees in Africa are such because they’re fleeing from the IS. The right thing to do is not the easy one but I really wonder what the right thing would have been at this point.

          • What I meant was earlier in the crisis as European countries were pledging to accept some millions of refugees the US could only accept a tiny number and some here were upset about that. In terms of our Middle East policies I find the conclusions of international security analyst Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed to be credible. He specializes in the study of mass violence and the causes/effects. I have a link to a fun way to view his work if you like.

        • Please, share the link!

          I forgot about the distribution of refugees. Yes, the US could have done more but, at the same time, they’re busy with “their own”. Southern Europe has an additional issue with those who aren’t granted the refugee status, “illegals” can’t be distributed and we can’t repatriate them because there are no bilateral agreements with most of the countries of origin.
          Repatriation itself is also quite expensive.

        • Watched it, thanks! 😁
          It can be difficult to accept such a truth (not necessarily THE truth, but a truth).
          The US has been made fun of for some time, for exporting democracy and fighting terrorism but supporting countries that violate human rights and sponsor terrorist groups… Because of oil, of course.
          It’s sad, but some irony doesn’t hurt. I also follow the FB page “American Memes” for this purpose. πŸ˜…
          I’m glad it’s an expert talking about this issue and not some random conspiracy theorist. Nothing against conspiracy theories though.

  2. It is similar and is still happening in our country. I remember very well when they were driving workers from the republics of the former Yugoslavia. We have a problem that domestic workers refuse to work for a small fee.

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