At a political rally on Friday, an unknown person threw bananas at Cecile Kyenge, Italy’s first black minister. This act comes after a fellow politician, Roberto Calderoli, commented earlier this month that the new minister reminded him of an orangutan. Although Calderoli did apologize after negative public reactions to his comment, he remains in office.
Before the rally police found mannequins covered in red paint with signs that said “Immigration kills.” The right-wing extremist party Forza Nuova has admitted involvement with the mannequins, but no suspect has been identified for the bananas.
Kyenge has been the target of much racial hostility since her appointment in April. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but naturalized as an Italian citizen, the new minister for integration aims to reform laws to grant citizenship to all persons born on Italian soil, regardless of their parents’ immigration status. Her opposition comes from right-wing extremists who find fault with her race and political agenda.
Kyenge has spoken out against the racist attacks , declaring the banana incident “sad” and a “waste of food.” She has called for change in national opinions about race and immigration, declaring that “the courage and optimism to change things has to come above all from the bottom up to reach the institutions.”