Coming home in the Nelson Mandelapark
by Shanti Alfour
Since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May 2020, there have been huge protests around the world against excessive police violence and institutional racism. Amsterdam is no exception. On 1 June 2020, in a city almost deserted due to the Covid pandemic, thousands of people demonstrated on Dam Square in support of Black Lives Matter. Kick Out Zwarte Piet and Black Queer & Trans Resistance Nederland organised this demonstration of solidarity. All the speakers emphasised that institutional racism is an issue in the Netherlands too.
Texts on the placards refer to various forms of solidarity, “I can’t breathe” refers to police violence and ethnic profiling following the death of American Eric Garner in 2014 and “All Black Lives Matter” recognises among other things the crucial role that the black LGBTIQ+ community is playing in the fight for equality. The #BlackLivesMatter hashtag was started in 2013 by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, three black American women. Since then Black Lives Matter has become an international movement protesting against anti-black violence.
Recent events are still very much alive in the city. A second, very well-attended demonstration followed in Nelson Mandela Park. Underneath the statue of Anton de Kom, the motto “Black is Beautiful” was written in chalk. Other statues were also criticised for the messages they send in the public space. Enterprises and organisations are publishing statements in which they condemn racism and commit to soul-searching.
The eyes of the world are now on racism and the fight against it. At kitchen tables, around coffee machines and on video calls, people in Amsterdam are talking to each other about these topics. Or maybe they aren’t. If you encounter exclusion every day of your life, it can be confronting to have keep telling your story. It’s not a new phenomenon, but rather a complex topic which is deeply rooted in the social, economic and political structures of our society. Is anything really going to change and how long will it take? It’s up to all of us to contribute.
How do you feel about Black Lives Matter in Amsterdam? Send us your photo, video, poem or meme at https://www.coronaindestad.nl/en/submit-story/
This room is curated by:
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