Com.Unità Proposal from local councillor: Trapani buses for black immigrants from the Cara (Hosting Centre for Asylum Seekers) only. But what do the immigrants think? Frank is from the Ivory Coast, he has been in Italy for seven months and when I ask him what he thinks of the councillor's proposal to have a bus only for him and the other guests of the Salinagrande Hosting Centre for Asylum Seekers he is very direct: "It's evil". By his side is Mohamed who also arrived in Italy seven months ago from Mali. He is waiting for the bus in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele with a friend and another man, who is much younger and shier. They are waiting for 'that' bus, the one which some people would rather they were not allowed to use: "It's discrimination," he says and turns to see if the bus is coming.
It is important to be aware of the fact that symbols are important. They help us to concretise abstract concepts. They enable thoughts, ideologies and reflections to be brought down to our level. Like the bus in Alabama in 1955, in which Rosa Parks insisted on sitting in the section reserved for whites. It is therefore legitimate for alarm bells to go off when talking about public transport and 'race', as it is a symbol of a much greater story. For example, when wealthier members of society disinfect the seats on the trains where immigrants have sat; or for the proposal which periodically gets put forward in Trapani, in particular from the houses and villas surrounding Salinagrande: to run a bus solely for passengers with a different colour skin. It is an idea which is both geographically and culturally far removed -or so one thought- from the vacuity of Italian far right politics (not to mention Alabama). To be precise, we are talking about the guests at the Hosting Centre for Asylum Seekers (CARA) in Salinagrande, who take the opportunity to escape from their- let's say- "golden bars" and go into the city. In all of this, however, it has not been made clear, where a black person who is not staying in the CARA should sit. This time there is a spokesperson, local councillor Andrea Vassallo member of the Social Reformists and elected for the first time six months ago. In his statement, issued to the public via the Trapani Town Council's website, he states that as president of the transport commission he has become spokesperson, together with the Head of the company (ATM) which runs the bus route in that area, in order to address, "the numerous complaints of the everyday local users of the bus route, who have spoken about the immigrants' antisocial behaviour." He then goes further to clarify the situation, "They often create and fuel situations so full of tension that inevitably sooner or later something unpleasant will undoubtedly occur." It has not been made clear if the local residents are also involved in such antisocial behaviour and creating hostilities. If this were to be the case, would it not then be necessary to run another bus, this time for the antisocial locals, which would leave an empty bus to go to and from Salinagrande.