Lorena Monroe Cesarini, a Black Italian actress has been the target of online harassment after it was announced that she would make an appearance at the annual Sanremo Music Festival in Italy, the Associated Press.
When she appeared on Wednesday's night broadcast of the festival on RAI state television, Cesarini read some of the messages to the crowd.
“They invited you because you are Black,” read one message saying that she did not deserve to be on stage. “Maybe they called you to wash the staircase or water the plants.”
Cesarini said that this was her first experience with racism in Italy. She added that the messages began when it was announced that she would be a guest of the festival.
“Evidently for someone, the color of my skin is a problem,” the actress said.
Recently, racial incidents have been receiving more attention in Italy. Private and public TV in the country has come under fire for the constant use of racist language and imagery. Also, the Italian media has received criticism for failing to properly represent second-generation Italians of African or Asian descent as contributors to the general society. In the fashion industry, Black Italian designers have fought for greater representation as well.
“Lorena and her monologue are the reason we are doing the work we are doing,” said Michele Ngonmo, the head of Afro Fashion Week Milan. Ngonmo has been instrumental in developing a database of young designers of color and promoting the work of Black creatives.
At his swearing-in ceremony, President Sergio Mattarella called racism and antisemitism “intolerable aggressions,” vowing to combat it as the country’s new leader.