• eli


Have you ever thought of how what we see – the body of the person we have been speaking with, for example – influences what we think? This simple question might be of incredible relevance to people who belong to an ethnic minority. You stand out. Every passer-by can immediately notice you among a group of people.


My name is Eli and I am 23 years old. I was born from a slightly dark-skinned father and a light-skinned mother in Milan, Italy. I grew up in this family where white and brown were just colors – it didn’t matter if my sister was some shades darker than I was.


Fast forward 18-ish years and some things happened. I fell in love with a boy from my class in university, and he happened to be from a minority group in my country: his parents were from North Africa. He had a slightly different skin color from mine, but it didn’t matter to me – after all he looked similar to my father and my sister.


However, the difference was clear enough to the people around us. Differences in our religions made things even worse – even my father who looked so much like him could not see past the differences magically created by the label ‘tunisian’. As a girl, I was a fool for dating a muslim that would have “taken away my freedom”. People were asking me if I would start wearing a veil. They were reducing him to a stereotype.


That was my first close encounter with race. I had heard about racial discrimination in history class, when talking about the second world war. However, coming from a christian, white family belonging to the majority, I had been largely untouched by it.