This Week in Media: Black Girls Abroad

Like any self-respecting millennial, I watch more than my fair share of videos on a daily basis. Though I am not the world’s biggest fan of social media, I have found that it is an incredible way to learn about new media content from around the globe. Thanks to Facebook and YouTube, I have stumbled across a number of refreshing and unique web series, many of which have reignited my interest in film and T.V. I have decided to share this awesome content with you all in the form of a weekly feature: This Week in Media. Every week I’ll try to share interesting news and videos from across the web. Enjoy the first installment!

Passeggiando, Episode 1 

Cecile Emeke continues to serve up the “scattered stories of the black diaspora” and bring us very necessary conversations in her short documentary series, Strolling. I remember seeing a casting call go out for Italian participants a few months ago, so I had been eagerly anticipating the series’ arrival in Italy. The first episode of Passeggiando (that’s strolling in Italian) certainly did not disappoint. Having conducted interviews with a number of black Italians (i.e. the children of African immigrants) in Rome, I was quite intrigued to hear the perspective of black folks living in Milan, the country’s most cosmopolitan city. I was reminded of how interconnected the black community is in Italy upon seeing the young women being featured; both were also in another YouTube video I saw discussing racism in Italy.

Bellamy and Loretta, whose families are from Uganda and Nigeria, respectively, immediately dove into the country’s hot-button topic – citizenship. As I’ve mentioned on this blog in the past, Italy requires the children of immigrants to apply for citizenship at 18 years old. As many of the young people I interviewed for my film attested to, there are plenty of obstacles to this process. Bellamy got the root of the issue – it is simply a means of delaying the acceptance of people of color as Italian. The episode’s release came at a very opportune time as part of the Italian Parliament approved a new law that would grant citizenship to children born in Italy if one of their parents has a valid permit of stay (there are, unfortunately, still a number of restrictions for children who don’t fit into this category).

The two young women spoke to universal themes such as their mothers’ sacrifices for a better life, family pressure to get married and start families, their desire for independence, and the absurdity of the phrase second-generation immigrant. The episode ends with a seemingly small problem that speaks to the country’s lack of acceptance – both women are unable to find make-up for their skin color, despite the fact that Lancôme’s spokeswoman is Lupita Nyong’o.

The episode speaks to the many reasons I did not view Italy as a racism-free paradise while living there as a black American female. Check out the episode here:


In Nero: Black Girls in Rome

I discovered another great video about black women’s experiences in Italy thanks to a travel group I am a part of. Against gorgeous, historic backdrops, a number of black American women discuss their experiences living in the Eternal City. From finding acceptance that was not offered in the U.S. to an abundance of compliments on their hair and skin color, many of the women have very positive experiences. They are also honest about the challenges they face, some of which I experienced during my stay in Rome, including racism, discrimination, fetishization, and plain shock that a black person can be American. It is a great complement to the Passeggiando episode as viewers can compare and contrast the experiences of black American expats to black Italians.

Pizzoli Media, which produced the video, is also launching a portrait series featuring the stories of black women living in Rome, as well as a fictional web series. Like their Facebook page for updates on both projects.

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