This time of the year, as every year, when Christmas is approaching and days get shorter, people start to talk about gifts and candies and…. the world discovers that the Netherlands (or shall I say ‘also’ the Netherlands?) is racist. As you may all know, this is due to the fact that the traditional Dutch […]
In the controversy about the blackfaced figure of Zwarte Piet, defenders of the tradition often try to downplay accusations of racism. A very common argument has it that Zwarte Piet is black because he climbs down chimneys. This argument, it turns out, is not in line with the tradition. Zwarte Piet was never quite white. […]
“Our culture is under threat. They want to abolish the Sinterklaas celebration and erect slavery monuments everywhere.” With those words the Dutch right-wing politician Rita Verdonk launched her 2006 election campaign. It sums up pretty much all of the sentiment of those defending the controversial tradition of Zwarte Piet. Each year, Saint Nicholas enters Dutch […]
Today, when comes to racism and ethnicity-based discriminations, the attention of European media and policymakers is predominantly on discriminations against Muslims, Roma and other minorities. Instead, the preoccupation of people who consider they are oppressed because of their skin colour generally remains without a response. This paper thus contributes to the discussion around the specificities of discrimination based on people’s skin colour, and what this means for society in general and, especially, for the people who experience it in person. These are also the concerns of the scholars who have elaborated the notion of a ‘Black Europe’ that I am choosing as reference framework with the aim of drawing attention to the question of blackness and to the way it affects the experience of migration to Europe.
In order to do this, I will refer to the subjective experience of a group of women who migrated from Suriname to the Netherlands during the 60s and 70s. As I will show, this group shares the common self-identifications of Blacks and at the same time of postcolonial migrants – as was the case for many of those who migrated to Europe from former colonies. Moreover, these women have in common the fact that they found employment in the domestic work sector in the city of Rotterdam. Their memories are a small and yet significant example of the negotiations that Black migrants in Europe have made in order to resist the race-based discriminatory attitudes they encountered after their arrival. […]