The scenes of the welcoming of Ukrainian refugees in Italy have been deeply moving.
I was particularly struck by the choral embrace in a Naples elementary school classroom of a beautiful child, happy but also embarrassed because he did not speak Italian.
It brought me back to a story that Chiara, a young patient of mind born in Naples to Nigerian parents, once told me:
"On the first day of school, the mothers of the other children looked at me strangely. One of them said to her son, ‘If she's in your class, make sure you sit far away and don't bring any illnesses home, because these must be people who just got off the boats.’
“That child ended up in my class. I remember approaching him and saying: ‘Hi, I'm Chiara and I have never set foot on a boat’. The child looked at me. ‘How’s this possible? You're black and you can even speak Italian?’
“I've seen that look on many other faces since then, but I'll never forget that very first time — the first time I wished I was blonde and had white skin."
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