details of interview

Role of the Interviewed: mother of karateka amateur

Age of the child: 7

Gender: male

Nationality: Italo Senegal

Type of radicalization: racism

Historical period collocation: 2013

Date/Country of the Interview: 02/08/2018 Italy

Interviewer: USMA in collaboration with FISPPA Dept., University of Padua

Story collected by: Anthony Civolani


Have you witnessed or experienced personal situations of radicalization during your activity in sport organizations? What kind of radicalizations have you detected? (Gender, politics, religion, racism, crime, homophobia…)


My name is Franca. I’m Italian and I’m white. And I have two children from my former partner who is from Senegal origin, so he is  black. I have witnessed discriminatory attitudes by bringing my son Ahmed to Karate.
Telling your story. What has happened? How has the story started?
I remember that during one of the workouts while I was on the steps of the gym, a mother joins me because she saw that I was inciting Ahmed during the fight. The woman approached me and asked me: “Hi, but where did you get your son?” And I did not understand the question. ” Sorry? In what sense where did I get him? “. The lady “Yes, in the sense, where does he come from, but is he yours?” Me: “Of course I am the mother! Where do you want him to come from if he’s my son? “. The Lady: “Ah I thought he was adopted.”
How did you realize what was going on? What kind of signals could you detect? How do you explain radicalization, referring to your experience?
That lady was upset that I had a colored son, so from a black man, but I understood that her son had also received a racist education. Jibril told me that the lady’s son in the locker room told him that he did not want to fight with him because he is a “negro”.
Have you tried to cope with this situation? What was possible to do? What have you done? Have you involved other people/organizations? Who was involved?
I was very disappointed because there are children who are not born racist but who become because of the education received. So I decided to involve the Karate teacher, telling him about the episode to intervene to make this child understand that Ahmed is a boy like everyone else, and they can be friends.
Did you feel you had the skills to manage this kind of situations? Which was the most difficult part of it? Have you had any form of support?
The hardest part was explaining to Ahmed what racism was, that he had not experienced until that day. In this I was helped by the teacher, but also by my family who made him feel loved and accepted as he is.
End of the story. How did the story end up? What have you learned from this personal experience? What would you say to people who are living similar situations?
The teacher understood that he had to intervene to unite the elements of the team, so he decided to do a lesson to explain how sport unites all the peoples of the world and showed the various champions of each race. In the end, the lady’s son was isolated and they did not come to Karate anymore. After this experience I became stronger as a mother aware of how much ignorance there is in the world. I believe that we should not be touched by malice and try to instill more security in our own child.
7. Conclusions. Are there other relevant aspects related to (de)radicalization that you want to highlight?
I understood one fundamental thing that the sport practiced in the developmental age, is an instrument for the integration among the children that come from multi-ethnic families like mine. The boys realize that to win they must team up.
fighting prejudice