A Question of Diversity: Black Consciousness from the Perspective of Dutch Antillean Youth

complexiteit-van-Erzulie-klein-230x150In “A Question of Diversity: Black Consciousness from the Perspective of Dutch Antillean Youth” [Het diverse zwarte bewustzijn van Antilliaanse Jongeren] published on April 6, 2013, Francio Guadeloupe, a lecturer and researcher at the University of Amsterdam, discusses various perspectives of black consciousness, comparing the viewpoints of scholars and activists to those of Caribbean youth— including Rastafarians, Vodoun practitioners, Christians, Afrocentric, and faranduleros. Here are excerpts of the full translation (by Lisa Post).

On the 30th of May in 1969, the black population (read dark brown skinned population with Afro-textured hair) of Curacao were so angry and fed up with the oppressive behavior of white Dutch (read pink skinned European Dutch which are hailed as natives) that they sought to burn Willemstad, their own capital, to the ground. Until today however, still no resolution has been found. Clearly this Dutch Kingdom on paper is dysfunctional, but the question is why?

Left-wing Antillean intellectuals and activists such as Artwell Cain, ex-director of NiNSEE (Nationaal instituut Nederlands Slavernijverleden en erfenis, National institute of the Dutch slavery past and heritage), and Glen Helberg, of OCaN (Overlegorgaan Caribische Nederlanders, Advisory body to the Dutch state on Caribbean Dutch in the Netherlands), aver that the black population on the Antilles suffer from an inferiority complex, as a result of their unresolved slavocratic past. They cannot easily get over this complex as the white Dutch that they engage with are still caught up in the illusion of superiority; a mode of being that they inherited from colonial times. That is why according to Cain and Helberg, large investments should be made to educate white Dutch on the effects of their ancestors’ deeds, and, correspondingly, Antilleans have to develop a black consciousness.

An adverse point of view can be discerned in the work of Piet Emmer and Afshin Ellian, both professors at Leiden university. They argue that Antillean Dutch constantly use/abuse their slaverocratic past to blackmail pink skinned European Dutch. Racism and the so-called effects of slavery, such as teen pregnancy, are being used as an excuse to obtain subsidies from the Hague. [. . .]

Even though these two opinions, of the left-wing Antillean Dutch intellectuals and their academic counterparts, seem to be opposed, they share something in common: they are both animated by a conservative politics of time. Antillean Dutch and European Dutch are positioned as ethnic groups bearing a metaphysical kernel that is somewhat immune to the vicissitudes of time and context. They are the ethnic groups we read about in the history books: slaves and colonizers. Curaçao stands in for the Antilles (the other five islands being carbon copies) and The Hague is the incarnation of a so-called collective Mind of the Netherlands. Dutch people are white, Antilleans are black. All diversity, creolization, hybridity, and cross-fertilization, individuality, is rendered obsolete.

If one grants that the majority of the inhabitants of the Antilles are descendants of those who fought against their enslavement, what does this admittance lead to? The figment of pigment and His/story does not undo the diversity of life as it is lived intra-subjectively and inter-subjectively. It might profit us to attend to the different modes in which dark skinned Antillean youths on the island attain black consciousness and combat racism.

Here the author gives the points of view of a wide variety of young people from diverse affiliations— Rastafarians, Vodoun practitioners, Christians, Afrocentric, and Faranduleros (or followers of popular cultural icons such as Jay-Z and Beyonce)—and their strategies against racism. See links below.

For the complete article in Dutch, see http://www.socialevraagstukken.nl/site/2013/04/06/het-diverse-zwarte-bewustzijn-van-antilliaanse-jongeren/

For the complete article in English, see FrancioGuadeloupe.The Diversalite of Black Consciousness among Antillean Dutch



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