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Marymount - International School Rome
Marymount - International School Rome
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Italy volleyball star Paola Egonu sparks racism debate

Egonu recently took time out from sport over racist abuse.

Italian volleyball star Paola Egonu has sparked a racism debate in Italy days before she is to appear as a co-presenter at the Sanremo Music Festival, the nation's biggest song contest.

"If I ever have a child with black skin, he will face all the crap I went through" - Egonu said in an interview with Vanity Fair - "If he were to have mixed skin, worse again: they will make him feel too black for whites and too white for blacks. It is worth it, then, to give birth to a child and condemn him to unhappiness?"

Egonu, who was born in Italy to Nigerian parents, said that she grew up in a context in which the ideal of beauty was being white.

"And kids can be very unpleasant" - she recalled - "I was always the tallest, I was black, with these curls that I hated. At one point I shaved my head. Too bad I was teased then because I didn't have any hair. Life sucked. I felt horrible."

Egonu, 24, became an Italian citizen 10 years ago after her father obtained an Italian passport.

Last October she made headlines after threatening to quit the national volleyball team over racist abuse on social media.

Viral video footage showed her in tears, moments after helping her team win a bronze medal in the world championships, telling her manager: “This is my last game with the national team. You can’t understand. They asked me why I am Italian.”

She subsequently took time out "to reflect on the situation" but not before receiving a wave of public support from Italian political leaders, including former premier Mario Draghi.

Photo credit: EvrenKalinbacak / Shutterstock.com.

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