Reportage. A 22-year-old Italian athlete from Turin was attacked this week in an episode reminiscent of other recent racist incidents in Italy. While Daisy Osakue is determined to find the culprits, she also remains optimistic about her country: ‘Italy is not racist, it’s just that sometimes it lets its bad side out.’

‘They just wanted to hit me because I’m a black woman’

A rising star in Italian athletics, Daisy Osakue, a 22-year-old native of Turin, was the victim of a racist attack in Moncalieri overnight Sunday and Monday, while she was on her way home. Osakue is the national record holder in the Under 23 category for discus throwing, and she’s the daughter of Nigerian parents.

She says she will not stay quiet. “They got the wrong person, because I’m going through with this all the way, and I hope they will soon find those responsible,” she said. “The situation is already on the edge: a person should be free to walk at on the street at night without being afraid that something would be thrown in their face. It was a cowardly act.”

Osakue was hit by eggs hurled from a car driving at high speed. “At a quarter past midnight, I went back home on foot, after a visit to a family member who is in the hospital, and I was crossing the street on the pedestrian crossing, in Moncalieri, where I live. Then I saw a car heading towards me. There were two guys on board. I picked up the pace and ran on the sidewalk, and right afterwards I felt a sharp pain in my eye. I had been hit, and I felt liquid on my face. I was terrified and I screamed because I thought it was acid. Then I was helped by some passers-by, and I calmed down when I saw that it had been an egg.”

No, the scene above was not set in rural Alabama, but in Moncalieri, in the suburbs of Turin, in Italy’s far north. Fortunately, her physical condition was less serious than it seemed initially. “I won’t have to have surgery on the eye. The egg they threw at me last night only caused a scratch to the cornea with liquid spill on the retina, which will heal with a little cortisone. Now I am much calmer,“ she said when she left the Turin ophthalmological hospital. No matter what, she will be ready to leave for the European Athletics Championship, which will begin on Aug. 6: “Come hell or high water, I’m absolutely going to go to Berlin.”

Osakue is brave, strong and bright. With a bandage over her left eye, she explains: “They did it on purpose. They didn’t want to hit me, Daisy, they just wanted to hit me because I’m a black woman. In that area there are some prostitutes, they must have mistaken me for one of them. I have already been a victim of episodes of racism, but only verbal ones. When they go from words to action, it means that a certain line has been crossed.”

The car from which eggs were thrown had already been reported to the police by some residents, who witnessed similar scenes on other occasions. For this reason, the carabinieri, who are investigating the incident, don’t currently believe that there was a racial motive, because it is the third episode in the past few days, and the others were targeted at very different victims. However, one cannot minimize what is happening. The attack on Osakue is the latest episode in a long line of violent and racist incidents that have taken place this year, all connected in some way to the first attack, in Macerata on Feb. 3 when Luca Traini shot and wounded six foreigners to “avenge” Pamela Mastropietro, in a lineage that counts 11 episodes in the past seven weeks.

Osakue can teach us a lesson in civilization against today’s rampant Salvinism. “Racism is everywhere, and if there’s a problem in the country, I don’t understand why someone would blame this or that group. There are good and bad people everywhere, and it’s wrong to generalize about a minority. It’s the same thing that Hitler started doing with the Jews: and what happened next?”

Osakue grew up surrounded by professional sports since childhood. Her dad practiced judo and her mom was a handball player. Before she chose athletics, she started with six years of tennis. At just 12 years old, she started practicing athletics at the Sisport club in Turin, her hometown. Her sports career was for a long time focused on obstacle races, where she won the Italian championship in the female cadets category in 2011. Over time, however, her skills as a thrower came to the fore, for both weights and the discus. Daisy has grown as an athlete under the wing of the former national team member in discus throwing, Maria Marello.

In January 2017, she was also admitted to Angelo State University, in Texas, where she studied criminology, and she continued to show notable athletic progress, setting a record for best Italian discus throw for the Under 23 category: 57.49 meters, recorded in Abilene, Texas, in March. She got an even better result on April 7: 59.72 meters, another record for young Italian athletes and the fourth best performance of all time among Italian female discus throwers. In Berlin, she is going to demonstrate her talent: “I am black, proud of my roots, but I feel fully Italian.”

“To get on the national Italian team, you need to put in a lot of effort. Those who can’t stomach that black athletes get on the team are usually complaining from the couch.” Osakue is also enrolled in the Young Democrats association of the Democratic Party, alongside whom she continues the fight for ius soli. She remains convinced that Italy “is not racist, it’s just that sometimes it lets its bad side out.”

The city council of Turin expressed their solidarity with the athlete, and the regional council members form the LeU took part in a spontaneous anti-racist protest organized in the city in Piazza Castello.

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