'Acknowledge that there is' afrophobia 'in the Netherlands'
A Protest against afrophobia in the Netherlands. Image NOS
The National Slavery Past Platform wants the Dutch government to recognize the concept of 'afrophobia' and to develop targeted anti-discrimination policy for it. Research should also be conducted into discrimination against people of African descent.
That request has already been made in vain, but chairman Barryl Biekman thinks that the cabinet should really take action now. The platform is the driving force behind the commemoration of the Dutch slavery past, today in Amsterdam, among others.
According to Biekman (69), it is important that people talk about afrophobia in the Netherlands. Because where everyone immediately knows what homophobia or Islamophobia means, that does not apply to afrophobia.
Biekman considers the widely used 'anti-black racism' to be a container term. In America, anti-black racism is also about the native population of that continent. In Europe, it relates to racism towards anyone who isn't white, she says.
Fear of black people
Afrophobia is specifically about racism against people of African descent, Biekman explains. "It's about much more than fear and aversion to black-skinned people. It's about institutionalized delusions about Africa and African people."
She cites discrimination on the labor market of people of Surinamese and Antillean origin as an example. This is more often the case with them than with other minorities, the Social and Cultural Planning Bureau noted. Biekman: "If you think that African people are lazy, then their children are seen that way and that has an effect on how people are treated."
She doesn't think it's an exaggeration to speak of fear of black people. "My experiences are based on facts. Recently I wanted to sit on a bench in a bus stop. The older lady who was already sitting there started shivering with fear. I saw her grabbing her bag firmly. I had to reassure her. "
becoming increasingly common in Europe. The ENAR, a network of European organizations against racism, defines afrophobia as "a specific form of racism that dehumanizes and deprives people of African origin".
Last year, the European Parliament adopted a resolution denouncing anti-black racism. Afrophobia and anti-black racism are specific forms of racism, according to parliament. It affects not only people from the former colonies, but also those who are now trying to come to Europe from Africa.
In 2011, the UN noted that in many countries, including the Netherlands, there was no willingness to take this discrimination seriously. That is why the UN decided to devote extra attention to it for ten years, from 2015 to 2025. The Netherlands is also participating, although it has not been widely publicized. Biekman of the Slavery Past Platform is not satisfied with the Dutch efforts to date.
"The discrimination is much worse than, for example, people with a Turkish or Moroccan background. We are a forgotten group." Jean Rwasibo, chairman Tubane Foundation
"The cabinet has earmarked 500,000 euros for a fund that distributes money among cultural and social projects through the Prince Bernard Culture Fund and the Orange Fund. But there has never been an action plan," she notes.
One of the organizations that received a subsidy is the Tubane Foundation, an organization for the Rwandan community in Amsterdam and the surrounding area. President Jean D. Rwasibo is happy with the attention that the UN has given to the subject, also in the Netherlands.
He believes there is a taboo on discussing racism against black people. "That discrimination is much worse than, for example, people with a Turkish or Moroccan background. We are a forgotten group," said an emotional Rwasibo. With a skipping voice he tells his experience: "Blacks are seen as monkeys, not as humans."
Demonstrators after the Black Lives Matter demonstration in the Amsterdam Bijlmerpark. Image from NOS
There have been several meetings in the Netherlands with organizations of people of African descent. These were organized by the Ministry of Social Affairs, among others, Rwasibo was there. The reason for the Black Lives Matter demonstrations is the death of African American George Floyd. But Rwasibo thinks that the meetings have also motivated people to speak out against racism.
The Afro-Surinamese Committee Boni has been trying to raise afrophobia in the Netherlands since 2015. The reason was an incident in Almere, where a motorcycle officer had a boy, tied to his motorcycle, run to the police station.
The committee called that an act of afrophobia. "It is worrying that citizens of African descent do not feel safe in the Netherlands and that they cannot trust that the police will also protect their human rights." The officer in question was later subject to disciplinary action by the police.
Committee Boni and Stichting Grani are organizing their own manifestation today and lay a wreath at the slavery monument in Amsterdam. According to both organizations, the youngest generations are beginning to feel and understand "that we must all stand up, force changes and make demands."