NiNsee and the struggle against racism in the Netherlands


A post by Peter Jordens.

Otti Thomas reports for Amigoe that the National Institute for the Study of Dutch Slavery and its Legacy (NiNsee) is more militant than ever. “It is evident that during the past years a new political wind has started to blow in the Netherlands,” said Chairman Antoin Deul at NiNsee’s New Year’s reception on February 4, 2017. US Vice Consul Kharmika Alston and Amsterdam Alderwoman Simone Kukenheim also called for action.

According to Deul, it is increasingly important to commemorate the slavery past as its consequences are becoming more visible. He cited the former National Ombudsman, Alex Brenninkmeijer, who called not just one or two political parties but the general political climate of the Netherlands racist. He also referred to a study by the University of Nijmegen that showed that more Dutch citizens find it acceptable when people speak negatively of ethnic minorities.

“Under the guise of freedom of expression, irresponsible politicians and public figures help create a climate in which it becomes possible to taunt and intimidate black people with impunity. Individuals can express themselves in a blatantly racist manner on various media; in contrast, 200 peaceful anti-Black Pete demonstrators (…) are arrested and criminalized en masse,” said Deul.

NiNsee continues to raise awareness about hidden and open racism through the annual Commemoration of the slavery past, through the second edition of Black Achievement Month, and by demanding attention for the topic within the education system. In addition, the institution will be organizing lectures on a regular basis. “Also of high priority is honing the discussion with the next Administration to give the National Commemoration the recognition that it deserves based on its historical position,” said Deul, hinting at financial assistance from the central government.

The municipality of Amsterdam has continued to support NiNsee and will keep doing so, according to the D66 Alderwoman of Education, Youth and Diversity, Simone Kukenheim. She mentioned that the public debate often causes her stomach to turn. “Last year, racism occurred frequently.” Kukenheim also said that she realizes that people feel uncomfortable when they are accused of racism. “But such discomfort should never be a reason for disengaging from the national debate.”

US Vice Consul in the Netherlands, Kharmika Alston, emphasized the need for awareness about the scientific and cultural achievements of people of African heritage. She quoted from former president Barack Obama’s opening speech at the launch of Black History Month in 2016. “For much too long, basic freedoms have been denied to African-Americans. Today we pay tribute to the countless kindhearted citizens who have stood up to help correct past mistakes,” she said.

The complete article (in Dutch), which appeared on p.7 of the February 6, 2017 edition of the Amigoe, is accessible online at

A similar article in English is

[Photo credit: Roy del Vecchio.]

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