mistaken for migrants in Italy

*Actor Samuel L Jackson and retired NBA player Magic Johnson might be most people’s idea of global superstars, but in Italy, the two men look like your typical government-mooching Africans.

Johnson shared a photo of himself and Jackson sitting on a bench surrounded by luxury shopping bags, including Louis Vuitton and Prada, in Forte dei Marmi. He captioned the pic: “Sam and I chilling out on a bench yesterday in Forte dei Marmi, Italy. The fans started lining up to take pictures with us.”

Seems harmless enough, right?

Well, as locals started taking photos of the duo and sharing them on social media, some Italians became outraged by the sight of two black “migrants” who they believed benefited from government money, only to shop in expensive boutiques.

In their posts, the ignorant users “often mentioned the 35 euros, paid by Italian citizens for accommodating refugees on EU quotas.”

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2015 American Theatre Wing's Gala

Samuel L. Jackson, LaTanya Richardson, Cookie Johnson and Magic Johnson attend the 2015 American Theatre Wing’s Gala at The Plaza Hotel on September 28, 2015 in New York City.
(Source: Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images North America)

Italian model Nina Moric also joined the criticism, saying that seeing migrants misusing “our 35 euros” was “too much.”

One oblivious critic said: “Nina Moric is right and this is shameful … I am not racist, but I know there are people who really do not have money, while these wear branded clothes and relax.”

Another added: “Immigration is crushing us.”

Comic actor Luca Bottura helped the photo go viral when he turned the pic into a meme for a so-called “social experiment.” He shared the image alongside the caption: “Boldrini’s resources in Forte dei Marmi shop at Prada with our €35. Share this picture if you are outraged.”

This was a reference to Laura Boldrini, President of the Chamber of Deputies of Italy, who has drawn criticism for her open migration policy.

Bottura later said on Facebook: “The meme has been shared thousands of times and 40 per cent of people understood the provocation, 30 per cent were outraged and 20 per cent thought it was a racist meme and that I had failed to recognise Samuel Jackson and Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, (I will not reveal the 10 per cent).”

Moric later insisted her response to the photo was also a “social experiment” —  arguing it was proof that people use social media to “confirm their prejudices, regardless of what the truth is. None of us are immune to this phenomenon.”

She added: “If you think migrants come here to [encamp] for €35 a day, that post will confirm it. If you think Nina Moric is a right-wing extremist, her post will confirm it.”

 

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