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African Americans traveling to Italy

I am headed off in mid-March to various spots in Europe. Given the current political climate in Italy and a recent shooting, the African American members in the party are re-considering travel to that country at this time for fear of profiling and racial violence. I've read the warning from the U.S. State Department about terrorist concerns there for all tourists in general. Wondering if others find these warnings truly valid, and is cancelling that leg of the trip a wise choice?

Posted by
6387 posts

Don't cancel this trip. People will know that you are tourists. I am Afro-American I have been to Italy 4 times in last 16 years most recently May 2017. I took my uncle to Italy his first time out of the country at 70 years old and he never felt any bad vibes compared to what he has experienced and continues to in instances in his native USA. A matter of fact recently some gang bangers looking for his next door neighbor (in Springfield Illinois small town) who had parked in front of his house fired bullets in his front door.

Sorry to say it but you might be giving credibility to social media or watching a little too much TV news sensationalized it bleeds it leads and not getting out enough to see reality. You can't be afraid to live based on what you hear or read; I grew up in Chicago and travel back there often to visit my 80 year old mother (she ain't scared to go out shopping solo) and from the news coming from there about all the shootings you would think that it was a war zone. But when you go you realize it is isolated.

Where are you planning to go in Italy? You can private message me if you like.

Posted by
11389 posts

I am not African American , however I do not think African American tourists are targets , and my friend who is half Chinese ( I know not the same ) had been to Europe many times and she said she never felt badly treated because of her race ( although she did mention a few issues because of her gender in turkey )

Posted by
3904 posts

I'd suggest that you're far more likely to experience racism in the US, as an African American (or as a white person in a predominantly black area as I have experienced).

As to the risk of being shot? I'm sure you'll agree that the risk of being shot is far, far higher in the US than anywhere in Europe.

Posted by
987 posts

I'm not African American, but I would still consider going. The US State Department warnings lately seem more about terrifying Americans than providing accurate information to many parts of the world. I'm not saying they don't provide timely information. I'm just saying that their new warning system seems designed to inspire more fear than confidence, and as far as Italy goes - I'd feel safe there as a tourist, regardless.

Posted by
4063 posts

This is a question about racism, not terrorism. There is hostility towards African migrants in Italy, for certain. Unless you’ve lived this hostility, I think it is hard to understand, much less comment. As an African-American tourist, however, you are part of a different group and should decide if this is a concern for you.

Posted by
4865 posts

The State department site chooses wording very carefully. The statement to "exercise caution" is a lot different than a "warning". The Italy statement is the same as the one for Germany and other countries in Europe. Nothing says don't go there.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for the insight and feedback everyone. I was less concerned about that leg of the trip myself, but not being African American myself I did not want to be insensitive if my companions are privy to security concerns that I am not. Their concerns stem in part from the Feb shooting spree (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2018-02-03/drive-by-shooting-in-italy-citizens-urged-to-stay-indoors) and Feb electoral win of what is purported to be an anti-immigration party (https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/927153/Italian-election-2018-results-Italy-is-over-twitter-italyisoverparty-latest-updates). Racism is alas nothing new: the recent uptick in violence against blacks seems to be, and is what I would classify as racially-motivated terrorism because perpetrators seem wanting to make a political statement as well as commit a hate crime. We'll keep our ears open once in Europe, and if things seem to have calmed down we may elect to give it a go. Cheers!

Posted by
23259 posts

I'm not African-American, but I know and work with a number of Africans. None of us have changed our travel plans to the Med or Italy.

I'll be there in June.

YMMV of course.

Posted by
2 posts

Well, My family and I traveled to Florence and Rome in July 2017. I’m a 6’-5” black male with a Latina wife and 2 mixed daughters. Had no issues .......except the constant hardcore staring. My understanding, just what most Europeans do. It was somewhat annoying but every native we met was friendly and very talkative.

Posted by
3904 posts

Had no issues .......except the constant hardcore staring.

I get that when I'm walking around Southern Europe in shorts and T-Shirts in February when all the natives are wrapped up in winter coats, hats and scarves despite it being glorious sunshine and 20°c.

Posted by
11389 posts

jdhi.. if you are 6'5" i bet thats what really got the stares.. not your race.. havent you noticed,,, many europeon men are short.. lol.. like under 5.10-5.11.. a truly tall man is a rarity..

Posted by
2 posts

Had no issues .......except the constant hardcore staring.

....well, traveled to Madrid after leaving Rome and Florence; Spaniards stared just as much if not more. A couple years earlier, we went to Paris and London....again no issues except the staring but less intense. London was probably the place of least stares. Going to northern Europe next year, Amsterdam, Stockholm, etc. I've been told, northern Europe is a little less critical or more relaxed. Again don't expect any issues but maybe less staring.....but I acknowledge, height could be part of it.

Posted by
6387 posts

I've been to all those places recently and travel pretty often; It has to be your height as at 5'11 I never feel anybody staring, given that I have that sense of being aware in public as I grew up in Chicago where you need to be street smart. The only times I felt someone staring was a little boy in Germany but he was a serious basketball fan. And I got some stares in Egypt as I was traveling with all blondes and the Egyptians could not tell if I was from Nubia.

Posted by
6039 posts

Did you go on your trip?

Care to share what, if anything, happened?