Children’s book on Suriname sold discrimination as facts


Dutch publishers and distributors can’t seem things to get right sometimes. Last year, a drugstore was selling a colouring book featuring Hitler, and now a mother was shocked to pick up a copy of ‘Suriname, here we come’ at the library containing some discriminating comments about the former Dutch colony.

The book tells children that cheating on one’s spouse is common and that men often have multiple women as partners. There’s all kinds of ways of discussing something like this seriously with children, but here the goal is to imply that it’s morally wrong, which is the wrong way to go about it. Why children need to know this if they visit Suriname is beyond me.

The rest depicts the Surinamese as bad people. “The Surinamese deliberately hit dogs with their cars, and used to sell themselves as slaves. Did you know that phone calls between Surinamese can often take a long time? A Surinamese needs an endless introduction and is unable to end a conversation”, all of which is presented as ‘facts’. I bet money the author is Caucasian and I can’t be bothered to check.

In light of pictures of the book’s content floating around Twitter, the publisher has decided to pull the book, basically admitting it was a bad decision to publish it in the first place. However, the publisher was obviously fine with it until they got called out for peddling such nastiness, which makes them tone-deaf and not suitable for children. Educate not hate, right?

And in true Dutch form, the ‘excuse’ contains “we never intended to hurt anyone”, but in fact they thought this was appropriate content to teach children until they were called out on social media.


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