January is White Dutch History Month

From mid October till well into December I blogged extensively about the character of Zwarte Piet/ Black Piet and his place within Dutch history and contemporary culture. Here’s a partial list of the pieces I wrote on the topic (I am only focusing on what I’ve written this year but it’s a topic I’ve been touching upon for much longer than this past couple of months).

On White Dutch people’s “feelings”, blackface, racism, lives worth cherishing

Zwarte Piet, racism and gaslighting as a culture wide phenomenon in The Netherlands

An intersectional feminist approximation to aesthetics around Zwarte Piet

The Dutch “pillars of racism”

The so called “debate” that ensued (something I also commented on in regards to how the word “debate” is misused to disguise what is basically violent rhetoric to silence opposition) involved numerous death threats and calls to violence for those that resisted the character of Black Pete. One regular claim that we got to hear again and again from the dominant culture was that “The Netherlands is ‘our’ country and if you don’t like it, you should leave”. Usually, the dominant culture insisted that we should focus on White Dutch culture and that any protestations were “reverse racism”. There was a strong focus on what makes “our Netherlands”, “our country” and “our history” at the expense of anyone that dared question these dominant narratives. Simultaneously, many White Dutch took offense at the focus on the rights and needs of People of Color. “We are the most tolerant country in the world!” we often heard.

I believe that history matters in order to understand our present day politics and culture. I am convinced that the key to understand where we are today resides within a historical continuum that started more than half a millennium ago. Because of these beliefs it is that, together with my regular blogging and usual topics, I will also devote the entire month of January to cover topics of White Dutch History. Since the dominant culture took issue with the fact that People of Color occupied a central role during the Zwarte Piet/ Black Pete media uproar, I am going to put my lens on White Dutch history. I will blog about some of its key moments and how the Empire has intervened in every continent and dozens of countries. I will try and bring to light how the politics and culture of the White Dutch Empire have shaped the history of so much of the world (from South Africa to Brazil to Indonesia to the Transatlantic Slave Trade and beyond). The dominant culture was clamoring for attention and acknowledgement. I am ready to provide that.

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