Black Lives Matter : Today and Every Day.
Today marks one year since Dam Square filled with protesters calling attention to police violence and institutional racism. It felt like a pivotal moment. George Floyd’s murder in the United States caused the Black Lives Matter movement to gain significant international attention and support, so too in the Netherlands. For the first time, activists that have been doing this work in the Netherlands for decades saw their work getting widespread attention. Never before had that many people come together in Amsterdam to protest against racism.
It was a day of hope. Hope that people would see how deeply embedded institutional racism is in the Netherlands, and that its history as a violent colonial power would be acknowledged. Unfortunately, since that day, it feels like little tangible change has been made. In fact, it can sometimes feel like we’re going backwards.
In the last year we’ve seen Anti-Zwarte Piet protests face violent opposition from the far-right, we’ve seen no police officers criminally prosecuted for Tomy Holten’s death, we’ve seen activists get their homes targeted with threatening stickers, the exposure of the racist Toeslagenaffaire and an election that saw a surge in support for far-right racist parties. Just two months ago, a law was passed which gives police officers a better legal position to defend themselves if they are suspected of disproportionate violence.
Here at Neighborhood Feminists we are committed to embedding anti-racism deep into our feminism and recognising the multiple forms of oppression that are experienced simultaneously by Black feminists. Recently, researcher and writer Mary Maxfield explained her own process of learning about intersectionality, stating: “Black women experience racism and sexism in a way in which you can’t parse out where one stops and the other begins. The racism changes the shape of the sexism and the sexism changes the shape of the racism.” This is what we are up against. This is how racism affects feminism, and this is why our solidarity and support is needed.
So what can you do?
- Speak up! Ready yourself to directly engage as an ally when you see or hear others behaving in racist or discriminatory ways, both online and off. There is no action too small.
- Follow and support activists, such as Control Alt Delete, The Black Archives, Kick Out Zwarte Piet, and Black Pride NL.
- Read books. Continue to educate yourself. A few books we’d recommend are: White Innocence by Gloria Wekker and What White People Can Do Next by Emma Dabiri.
And remember: Black Lives Matter. Today and every day.