Still, the photos posted by Mr. Di Maio, who has a reputation for blunders, did not go without criticism in the country. Some have argued that they reflect the world view of Mr. Di Maio’s province, a view that does not take into account global conversations about racism outside of Italy. Others said the footage ignored the discrimination black people face in Italy, where African migrants often grapple with violence and intolerance.
Igiaba Scego, a Somali-Italian writer who focuses on black studies and colonialism, said Italy has never faced its colonial and fascist past.
“In other countries, they know that practices like blackface lead to violence,” she said. “In Italy, they just don’t take insults against black people seriously.”
Rather than finding the messages hurtful and shocking, “the minister found it funny,” she added.
Mr Rubei, the spokesman, also defended the minister’s cameo alongside Totò, the Italian actor, saying he did so because the two men are from Naples, and no one in Italy did not associate this performance with the 1961 film “Totòtruffa,” with racism, or “thinks Totò has a black face.” »
In other words, he said, people were making something out of nothing.
“He did not paint his face black,” Mr. Rubei said of Mr. Di Maio. “He was really tanned.