A colleague of mine asks if he can talk to me for a moment. He is in disbelief, does not understand how it is possible that racism is still being dismissed in the Netherlands. He is the father of three small children and has set out to do everything he can to empower talented young people from underprivileged environments. This man is energetic, optimistic, creative, well-read, successful in reaching his target audience as well as the necessary networks and always full of hope. This man is dumbfounded, can not comprehend that racism in our country (fill in whatever country you live in) is discussed on terms of those who are not affected, defined by those who are not affected and is assessed by those who are not affected. He worries about the future of the youths he works with, his children’s future and the future of his country. Whether I know what is going on? Yes. He knows what is happening. He sees that racism and discrimination are institutionalized in our country. He sees that BIPOC are forced in a defensive position if they want to discuss racism and discrimination and that privileged people are having a hard time accepting the fact that they have privileges. And that is the issue. To change, we must first accept that there is a problem and that we can do better. Currently, white journalism in the Netherlands determines what is acceptable and what can be improved by having control over the subject matter. In news and current affair programmes, the guests determine what should be tolerated and what is not acceptable and in doing this, affirming which norm is acceptable and which is not.
Do you really want change? Are you determined to do something, and do you want our country to be safe for everyone, not just for those who set the standard? Make yourself heard, provide a platform for those with a diverse background, step aside and listen. Your opinion matters, but if you want to form your opinion inclusively, the first step is to really listen. It is hard to understand how the colour of your skin can be a reason to be treated differently, to be distrusted, to be checked more often or even be detained, jailed, or killed. However, it is possible to learn you can help from those who experience this kind of treatment. You, as a neighbour, friend, manager, or entrepreneur can make the difference. You, as a teacher or coach, point out the boundaries and what the standards are every day. You are an example and I am asking you right now: What kind of example do you want to be?
My heart bleeds for the family and loved ones of George Floyd, Mitch Henriquez and the many, too many others. I am putting my anger to work. Will you join me? #notoracism #BLM #education #diversityandinclusion #whatcanIdo #COVID19
photo credit @graphincent