Home » ITA W: Egonu – “I grew up in environment where standard of beauty assumed that I was white“

ITA W: Egonu – “I grew up in environment where standard of beauty assumed that I was white“

by WoV

Not many female volleyball players today can measure up with Paola Egonu. That’s why the Italian superstar is determined to raise her voice in defense of all injustices that affect black people.

Paola Egonu (Photo: news.italy24.press)

The MVP of the last CEV EuroVolley and FIVB Volleyball Nations League, Egonu, drags a lot of scars throughout her life that were made because of the color of her skin. And she’s only 24. In an extensive interview for Vanity Fair, the Italy National Team (retired from it due to racism) player spoke bluntly about the racism suffered since childhood. About the racism she’s facing now as an adult. About the anxiety attacks, the “prison“ of professional sport. It’s a story of an angry champion, who now raises her voice.

We bring you only a small piece of her words from an interview in which every answer of the current member of Turkey’s VakıfBank will make you think of the world we all live in.

“When I was four, I realized I was different. I was in kindergarten and, with a friend of mine, we were tearing up the grass from the garden: the roots made us laugh. The teacher punished us. Three times I asked her to go to the bathroom. Three times she said no. In the end, I rushed there, without permission. Too late: I was all dressed up. The teacher laughed in my face: ’Oh God, you suck! But how much you stink!’ And, for the rest of the day, she didn’t change me. I had to wait, dirty for my mother to arrive in the afternoon. Even today, 20 years later, I struggle to use a toilet other than the one in my house,“ Egonu started her sad life story.

Have you overcome the anxiety attacks you previously reported suffering from?

“Not entirely. Sometimes I feel like I can’t take it anymore without understanding why. It happened to me yesterday too, at the gym. I wasn’t at ease, I wasn’t calm.“

Talked to anyone about it?

“No, I’m afraid to go to analysis. I’m scared of bringing up something big and not knowing how to handle it. And I can’t afford to feel bad because, whatever happens, I have to play.“

Who doesn’t appreciate (you)?

“For example, those who insult me ​​by asking if I’m Italian. They don’t know anything about me, about us athletes. They don’t know how much we struggle, how tired we are, how we don’t feel up to it, how sometimes we just want to take a break from everything, but we can’t. I don’t even have time to enjoy a victory when the next challenge arrives: after the Scudetto, there’s the Champions League, the European Championship, the Super Cup, and the Olympics. So then it happens that someone says the wrong sentence to me and I ask myself: why on earth should I represent you?“

In what sense (you only recently realized that it’s achievable to be a mom?

“I grew up in an environment where the standard of beauty assumed that I was white. And, you know, kids can be very unpleasant. I was always the tallest, I was black, with these curls that I hated. At one point I shaved my hair. Too bad that then I was teased because I didn’t have hair. Life sucked. I felt like sh**.“

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