Racism isn’t just in America: Three Degrees of Separation in Italy

By Tamara Lucas Copeland
President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Some of you may remember the name Lucy Lawless. She played Xena: Warrior Princess in the late ‘90s, early 2000s and more recently had a recurring role in the TV show Parks and Recreation. I have to admit that while I had heard of both shows, I wasn’t a regular fan of either and didn’t know the name Lucy Lawless, but a few days ago our paths crossed geographically and philosophically.

Lucy Lawless and I are both in Lucca, Italy, a city in Tuscany about an hour south of Florence. I suspect that we are both here for the same reasons: rest, relaxation and renewal in a city known for its beauty. One of the charms of Lucca is its medieval walled city full of interesting shops, great food, beautiful churches and magnificent public art. Having been to Italy a couple of times before, on this trip, I noticed the large number of black and brown people in all of the cities where I have been traveling. On a very superficial level — simply watching racially mixed families, what seemed to be friendship groups and business colleagues — it seemed that they were blending fully into the Italian culture. Lawless witnessed something else that she captured and posted on her Facebook page.

The phrase “if you see something, say something” doesn’t just apply to political terrorism. It is just as apt for psychological/social terrorism. So, from me to @RealLucyLawless thank you for using your voice and for #PuttingRacismOnTheTable and to the GenXer who is part of my traveling group for being woke and alerting me to the Lawless Facebook post.

*ragazzi is an Italian word for young males.