FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Dr. Kyenge’s Crusade

by FREDERICK B. HUDSON

In 1933, the writer Arna Bontemps, a fellow member with Langston Hughes of a collection of writers, artists, and musicians that history has dubbed “the Harlem Renaissance,” in recognition of the creative contributions they offered to the world, penned a moving short story called, “A Summer Tragedy.”

The piece describes the proud, yet humble attempts of a southern sharecropper, Jeff Patton to dress himself in his threadbare best Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes; his wife, Jennie helps him with tying his bow tie–even though she is blind. Jeff’s fingers are crippled with arthritis. His wife makes her way out their cabin with a stick to guide her way. They find their way to their decrepit car.

As they travel down the road, their conversation has a somber tone. Jennie keeps asking her husband if he is scared. Why this question? The couple have decided to commit suicide. Their five children have died and Jeff has suffered a stroke. The couple cannot bear the thought of not being able to care for each other. The story ends with the image of the old car hitting the water of the stream with the two old proud sharecroppers sitting upright until the car sinks.

This death with dignity saga had its modern day global reprise in Italy last month. Two researchers at the Prevention Research Center at Stanford University described the despair felt by a married couple in a seaside town in Italy who were overwhelmed by their efforts to survive on a monthly pension of about $650 that went to the wife who was 68 years old. The husband was 62 and not eligible for any assistance. The former construction worker was a victim of the Italian government’s attempt to balance the budget by raising the retirement age.

Unable to pay their rent without a safety net, the two senior citizens hanged themselves. When the wife’s brother, who was 73, heard the news, he drowned himself in the Adriatic Sea–an echo of the Bontemps’s tale.

These tragedies have peculiar resonance in the global economic spin that the world’s nations have conjured since about the same time as the triple suicide in Italy, Cecile Kyenge, an eye doctor and Italian citizen originally from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was named the first black government minister in the nation of Italy. Her title–Minister of Integration.

Her appointment was met with racist vile vitriol reminiscent of the chants and shouts of a Klu Klux Klan lynching: One Italian member of the European Parliament said that Dr. Kyenge – appeared to be “a good housewife but not a minister” This official’s attempts to vet the doctor’s qualifications to minister to the Italian people’s needs seems sadly out of touch with reality.

His nation’s futile attempts to pull the euro zones third-largest economy out of recession remain on ice as rising unemployment and falling living standards crank up the insecurities. that drove the three senior citizens to kill themselves last month. The doctor is married to an Italian native–if she lives in a dwelling, she could properly be called a housewife. But she has been trained to help humans see better. Her vision is not just limited to the corneas and retinas of the eye.

The 49-year-old eye doctor said she believes hostile attitudes stem mainly from ignorance:

“I am not ‘coloured’, I’m black, it is important to say that, I emphasize it proudly.”

“We need to break down these walls. If you don’t know someone, skepticism increases, discrimination increases. Immigration is a richness. Differences are a resource.”

Dr. Kyenge’s attempts to grant citizenship to immigrant children born in Italy at birth rather than the current policy of forcing them to wait until age 18 may well supply laborers with a vested interest in providing a vigorous labor base and tax base to provide for Italy’s rapidly growing cohort of pensioners.

In this light, she has comparison with the solder and political leader Hannibal who after his mythic military conquest of Rome by climbing the Alps on elephants and maintaining an army in Italy for ten years was forced to return to his native Africa after a Roman attack. However, few historians note that after those conflicts, this commander, who some argue was a dark-skinned man, enacted political and financial reforms to enable the payment of the war indemnity imposed by Rome. Perhaps the racist male chauvinists of Italy can argue if he was a homemaker not a minister.

Frederick B. Hudson is poet, screenwriter and educator.

More articles by:
May 26, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts
The Looting Stage of Capitalism: Germany’s Assault on the IMF
Pepe Escobar
Hillary Clinton: A Major Gold-Digging Liability
Sam Pizzigati
America’s Cosmic Tax Gap
Ramzy Baroud
Time to End the ‘Hasbara’: Palestinian Media and the Search for a Common Story
José L. Flores
Wall Street’s New Man in Brazil: The Forces Behind Dilma Rousseff’s Impeachment
Patrick Cockburn
The Battle of Fallujah: ISIS Unleashes Its Death Squads
John Feffer
The Coming Drone Blowback
Alex Ray
The Death Toll in Syria: What Do the Numbers Really Say?
Richard Pithouse
We Shall be the Prey and the Vulture
Binoy Kampmark
Trump and the Polls of Loathing
Manuel E. Yepe
A Cruise Ship Without Tourists Arrives in Havana
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt Negotiations: Will the IMF Exit the Troika?
Ajamu Nangwaya
Pan-Africanism, Feminism and Finding Missing Pan-Africanist Women
Howard Lisnoff
Israel, a Palestinian State and Anti-Semitism
May 25, 2016
Eric Draitser
Obama in Hiroshima: A Case Study in Hypocrisy
Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
Does Venezuela’s Crisis Prove Socialism Doesn’t Work?
Dan Arel
The Socialist Revolution Beyond Sanders and the Democratic Party
Marc Estrin
Cocky-Doody Politics and World Affairs
Sam Husseini
Layers of Islamophobia: Do Liberals Care That Hillary Returned “Muslim Money”?
Susan Babbitt
Invisible in Life, Invisible in Death: How Information Becomes Useless
Mel Gurtov
Hillary’s Cowgirl Diplomacy?
Kathy Kelly
Hammering for Peace
Dick Reavis
The Impeachment of Donald Trump
Wahid Azal
Behind the Politics of a Current Brouhaha in Iran: an Ex-President Ayatollah’s Daughter and the Baha’is
Jesse Jackson
Obama Must Recommit to Eliminating Nuclear Arms
Colin Todhunter
From the Green Revolution to GMOs: Living in the Shadow of Global Agribusiness
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey as Terror: the Role of Ankara in the Brexit Referendum
Dave Lindorff
72-Year-Old Fringe Left Candidate Wins Presidency in Austrian Run-Off Election
May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 2016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail