Alumna Anna Maria Gehnyei Presents Book Il Corpo Nero at JCU

On September 19, 2023, John Cabot University’s Guarini Institute for Public Affairs welcomed JCU alumna Anna Maria Gehnyei (aka Karima 2G) to present her autobiographical book, Il Corpo Nero (“The Black Body,” Fandango, 2023). The event was co-sponsored by Temple University Rome Campus, British School at Rome, and JCU Communication and Media Studies Department. Il Corpo Nero portrays Anna Maria’s life and the obstacles that she has had to overcome being a black woman growing up in Rome.

Anna Maria Gehnyei
Anna Maria Gehnyei

Anna Maria graduated from John Cabot University in 2020 with a B.A. in Communications and in 2021 with a B.A. Political Science. Shortly after graduating, she signed a contract with Fandango Publishing House to produce her first book discussing her experiences of being a second-generation Liberian-Italian and facing a life of discrimination because of it. Anna Maria is not only an author, but also a singer, dancer, and music producer. She spoke about how music is an escape and a way for her to “fight a system that doesn’t recognize her.”

Alongside Anna Maria were JCU Professors Federigo Argentieri, Pamela Harris, and Mary Merva, who spoke about their experiences with her when she was a student at JCU. Her strength, courage, and resilience were praised not only by the professors, but by the audience members who had read her story.

In her book, Anna Maria tells of her and her twin sister being ostracized by the children in their elementary school class and of their teachers’ indifference to the situation. Everywhere she goes in Rome, there is always someone who reminds her that she is black. For many years, she found herself continuously mediating between two cultures: the Italian one that did not accept her and the African one to which she did not fully belong. She is viewed as being too black to speak Italian well, too black to wear elegant clothes, too black to be educated. She tells of being asked for her ID by police officers at a bus stop because they assumed that she was a prostitute.

Anna Maria’s perception of being at the crossroads of two cultures is especially evident during her trip to Liberia, where she rediscovered her African roots and came to terms with her Italian identity. That was when she decided that it was important for her to give voice to those with no voice.

Anna Maria is currently touring the world, speaking about her life and her book. She discussed her desire to tour everywhere she can because she believes that it is her responsibility to share a story many can relate to. Through her book and her tour, she hopes to help people who are going through similar situations. She encouraged the audience to read as much as they can and to pursue an education to help them fight for what they believe in. She also discussed how facing her fears has allowed them to go away.

During the Q&A session of the presentation, Anna Maria was able to respond to all the questions regarding her life and how she has overcome her many struggles. She left the audience inspired and encouraged by the end of the event.

(Hayley Nowak)