Alika Ogochukwu | How Systemic Racism In Italy Pollutes Our Right To Imagine Ourselves As Us

by Johanne Affricot - Published on 02/08/2022

On July 29, Alika Ogochukwu, a Black man with disabilities, was murdered in broad daylight in downtown Civitanova Marche (Macerata). Filippo Claudio Giuseppe Ferlazzo, the white man Ogochukwu had walked away from—after allegedly asking him and his partner for handouts—followed him, hit him with the crutch Ogochukwu used to help himself walk, then threw him to the ground and finished him off with his bare hands.

Alika Ogochukwu fought and resisted with his body alone for 3-4 minutes. It is heartbreaking to imagine that in his struggle to survive he relied on the noises and voices that surrounded him in the clear light of day.

Alika Ogochukwu could have survived, but he was murdered within that same cyclical and self-perpetuating slave/colonial framework in which the Black body that steps outside the imposed boundary/regime of (self)control is to be stopped, punished or eliminated. None of the people present acted out a collective response in defense of human life, in fact.

Systemic and structural racism is gaining strength in Italy.

Systemic racism in Italy pollutes our space, our air, our breath, our posture, our thoughts, our gaze, our vision. It pollutes our right to rest, our right to normality. It pollutes our ability to imagine ourselves as something else. To imagine ourselves as Us.

Systemic and structural racism feeds not only on hatred but, above all, on indifference: of the political class, of the cultural community, of the community as a whole.

As a Black woman, as a citizen of the community, as a mother, as a curator and cultural producer, I am angry and frustrated that the political, social and cultural agenda in this country is in the hands of an intellectual elite exclusively interested in the slogan of the moment, or in names, concepts and contents to be deployed, or in media strategies to dominate the market of the status quo, the consensus, the intellectual superiority of certain political colours and, cultural entities, thus hiding the actual portrayal of the disparities of positions and power between us and them.

The condition of isolation in which we find ourselves as marginalized subjectivities is as deep as it is alarming. In early fall we will have our general elections, and looking at the current polls, it is already apparent that a very long winter lies ahead.

The need to correct, to reverse, to be supported continues to be imperative. Today as yesterday.

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Johanne Affricot
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Visual and performing arts, culture and music, traveling: I could just live on this. Graduated in International Cooperation and Development, I am an indipendent Culture Curator and Producer, and Artistic Director of GRIOTmag and Spazio GRIOT.