Book teaches kids to pick out non-natives

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Children in the Netherlands

You know that bit folks say that children aren’t born racist, they just repeat and mimic what they learn from adults? Well, after telling you about children not being white enough for Dutch schools, children singing about the difficulties of being brown and even calling each other ‘swear words’ like ‘homo’ and ‘Jew’, a schoolbook has been lambasted for driving yet another racist wedge of cheese between children of various backgrounds at school.

A Dutch publisher is peddling a schoolbook aimed at 10-year-olds that asks them to judge if someone is a native or non-native Dutch person. It’s true that Statistics Netherlands claims that anyone who has one or both parents born abroad is a non-native, even if they have the Dutch nationality. In other words, you’ll never be part of the club, so get used to it young.

The statements include phrases such as ‘Fatima prefers to listen to Dutch songs’, ‘Michael has rasta hair’ and ‘Jefte has a great sense of rhythm’. The publisher says the aim is to make it clear to children that the words ‘allochtoon’ (‘non-native’) and ‘autochtoon’ (‘native’) relate to the place where people were born, based on the Van Dale junior dictionary, which by the way is wrong. A child can be born in The Netherlands of foreign parents, making them an ‘allochtoon’ according to the definition. The word ‘allochtoon’ is mostly used in a pejorative way as a synonym of all kinds of unkind words for non white people. For example, I’m an ‘allochtoon’, but if I say that I am, I get a round of laughs and that it doesn’t count. Try it if you’re in a position to do so, see what happens and report back to us.

The word ‘allochtoon’ is currently being phased out by the government and the media because it stigmatises people, a step in the right direction. Sadly, the educational publisher didn’t get that memo since even reading the definition of a word in a children’s dictionary is beyond their reading skills.

Maybe teaching children about how to avoid racism and discrimination altogether would be a much more useful exercise.

(Links: dutchnews.nl, photo of random children: Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

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