“We have people who are born and raised in Italy who don’t have an identity,” she said. “They don’t feel Italian and they don’t feel that they belong to their parents’ homeland. We need to start from here.”
She offered her own experience as an example of the discrimination that confronts non-Italians living here legally and able to contribute to society: Despite having finished at the top of her class in medical school, Kyenge said she could not get work in an Italian hospital for two years because she was not a citizen.
“I have always fought against any form of discrimination and racism,” she said.
However, she said she is also realistic about the limitations of her office, the requirements for a “cultural change” and the precariousness of a government made up of longtime political rivals.
“It could be that today I leave the ministry unable to get any results,” she said. “But I have to be able to put in place a basis for all those changes that are so longed-for, for all those dreams.”