‘Racist’ flyer backlash puts the skids under campaign to raise fertility

An ad used as part of a widely derided push to improve fertility and get Italians having more children has been denounced as racist. Thursday’s Fertility Day launch was overshadowed by the backlash against a flyer showing four smiling, light-skinned adults at the beach. The image was placed over a darker image of a group of young people, including a black man, smoking — to show “bad companions” who should be abandoned for the sake of good reproductive health. Social media was soon awash with criticism. “To avoid becoming sterile you should avoid drugs, fine… but also avoid a diverse friendship group?” asked Monica Congiu on Twitter.

This is from the Italian government. white guys are good, the black, curly, smoking ones, bad.

Twitter user Cristiano Valli

The health ministry’s campaign has already been codemned as sexist after an earlier ad showed a fraught-looking young woman touching her stomach and holding an egg-timer, with the sand running away, in her other hand. Others say the campaign ignores the economic pressures which force many young Italians to put off having children. Health minister Beatrice Lorenzin sought to keep on message during Thursday’s official launch, decrying the fact that 700,000 Italians who want to have children can’t because of infertility problems. She said she had signed off a different version of the ad and did not know how the wrong one had appeared.

The photos represent a homogeneity of people, as is the multi-ethnic society in which we live. Racism is in the eye of the beholder.

Italian health ministry defends the flyer