A black Italian teenager says she was prohibited from participating in a music festival because the color of her skin meant she wasn’t a “true Italian,” despite being born in the country.
The 15-year-old, identified only as Dora B., enjoys singing and wanted to take part in the Canta Verona festival in Verona, the town where she was born.
Dora, whose parents are of Ghanaian origin, found the song contest’s Facebook page and messaged the organizers for more information. However, the response she received was anything but expected.
“I don’t accept foreigners,” one of the organizers told her via Facebook, as quoted by the Local.
Dora pressed the person for details as to why foreigners weren’t allowed, and then stressed that she is, in fact, Italian.
“If I have Italian citizenship, I am not a foreigner, so I can participate, right?” she wrote.
In response, the organizer was extremely clear that Dora – or apparently anyone who looked like Dora – was not welcome at the event under any circumstances, regardless of whether they held an Italian passport.
“No!!! One is born Italian, one doesn’t become it, one is born Italian from Italian parents. That’s the way I see it. The competition is reserved for true Italians,” the organizer wrote.
The person then made clear that other non-Italian nationalities were just as unwelcome as Dora.
“There are also Chinese people who have Italian citizenship but they are not true Italians,” the organizer wrote.
A screenshot of the exchange was shared online by Dora, promptly gaining traction on social media and receiving coverage from Italian news outlets.
Io sto con Dora, perché queste assurdità non si ripetano più, e chi si dimostra razzista paghi https://t.co/9lSMaSdg51
— Mattia Mor (@MorMattia) August 16, 2017
After news of the conversation spread, the organizer reportedly apologized and invited the girl to a future music festival, La Repubblica reported.
The organizers also claimed they had “no political allegiance,” despite the newspaper reporting that the event’s Facebook profile pointed towards “right-wing convictions.”
It’s not the first reported case of discrimination against people of African origin in Italy. Just last week, an 18-year-old girl who applied for a job at a shop in Torino said she was refused the position because she is in a relationship with an African man.
“As far as I’m concerned, you can go out with the Monster of Florence [a serial killer who butchered women in the 1990s], but allow me to not entrust the safety of my store to those who share their life with an African,” the shopkeeper told the teen in a Facebook conversation, a screenshot of which later spread online.
The incidents come as tensions are mounting over the arrival of migrant boats from Africa to Italy’s shores, with the Italian government and many residents claiming the rest of the EU isn’t doing enough to help share the burden.