The Dutch town of West Betuwe, Gelderland recently held online meetings of its city council using the popular meeting software Zoom. In the spirit of wanting to show its residents what they were up to, folks could follow the meeting by clicking on a link. Problem is, the wrong link was made public and city council was bombarded with racist slurs, fascist symbols and pornography.
It’s simple: city council supplied the wrong link to the public, but the Dutch media had fun blaming Zoom, hackers and everybody else but the officials who apparently didn’t know what they were doing. Of course, they had to cut their meetings short and need to figure out how Zoom works – Have they? They are considering going to the police as well since they had to deal with very nasty stuff.
Meeting in person like they used to is currently not possible due to the coronavirus. And it was also the first time citizens could watch. Now West Betuwe has a reason to figure out how online meetings work. However, I can imagine that it was a terrible experience for city council. It was so shocking that meeting again in person following Covid-19 measures is back on the table.
Calling them ‘hurtful clichés’ rather than straight up racist stereotypes, amusement park De Efteling is finally modernising their collection of African and Asian figures.
The negative comments got enough media attention back in 2014 when an American journalist was ‘shocked’ at the famous ‘Monsieur cannibale’ ride complete with Africans, gold rings and a boiling cauldron (see our previous posts on the topic, it gets into the weeds of the French song itself).
Although there was an action group that pushed for changes, the park said they decided on their own to update their rides, changing the appearance of some 100 figures around the park as well as updating the place with some energy-efficient lighting.
Interestingly enough, no changes have been planned for the Monsieur cannibale ride, but they say it might be updated once it needs maintenance, which sounds like a Dutch compromise.
Tip to foreign media, especially Americans: the more Americans point out the weird-ass colonial shit that still exists in this country, the more people are going to dig in simply because it’s an American telling them what to do, which – pardon the pun – is widely interpreted as a pot-kettle-black situation.
The Nederlands Albert Schweitzer Fund (NASF) that aims to support initiatives for Africans has produced adhesive plasters in different skin tones that are being sold in Dutch drugstores, an actual Dutch first.
Together with being told to use ‘the skin colour pencil’ that was always a peach-like beige, ‘nude’ panty hose and ‘nude’ bras, so many products are created with only Caucasian people in mind.
The first bunch of plasters made by the NASF will come in six skin tones and cost 3,99 euro per pack of 24. For every pack sold, one euro will be donated through NASF to an African cause. As the NASF says themselves, “everyone is equal, but not everyone is the same”.
And this not a world first. American company Tru-Colour Bandages has been selling plasters of many different skin tones for a while, although only available in The Netherlands through Amazon. Founder Toby Meisenheimer, a father of six children in Chicago thought the standard beige-like bandages looked ‘totally stupid’ on the head of one of his sons.
Heineken, and the oblivious people that green lit this script, have produced a “terribly racist” advert that has been pulled after America’s Chance The Rapper called them out on it, on social media.
With the tagline ‘lighter is better’, referring to a range of light beers, a light skinned barman sees a similarly light skinned woman and slides a beer down the bar past two black patrons and one black musician. The beer slides for a long time being light and all, but the unfortunate message is loud and clear.
Chance The Rapper said it seems like companies pull stunts like this to purposely bait people to write about them, and that in this case, he had to say something. Heineken had since apologised, saying they “missed the mark”.
We saw this go by on Facebook a while back from a teacher, but now that newspaper Parool has written about it in more detail, it’s time to share with you that Dutch schoolchildren have been learning about Dutch pronunciation using unambiguous racist stereotypes about the Chinese.
To learn about Dutch words ending in -ng such as ‘lang’ (tall) and ‘bang’ (afraid), the Laterna Magica elementary school in Amsterdam suggests children read the sentence “Shing, shang, shong plays ping-pong in Hong Kong.” To remember the -ng sound, the textbook says the children need to “make ‘slanted eyes’ using their index fingers”. Next to this comment, there’s a colonial era cartoon of a Chinese man.
Although in use since 2012, the school claims it has replaced this part of the textbook, but a media expert from the University of Amsterdam says the bigger issue is that all the educators and teachers involved in making this book had not given a single thought as to how this would promote racist stereotypes.
To drive the point home even further, the university expert said that children still sing ‘Hanky Panky Shanghai’ sung to the tune of ‘Happy Birthday’ at school birthday parties and use their index fingers to make ‘slanted eyes’. YouTube just gave me a few hits of mostly white people thinking this is normal behaviour.
And to make it a hat trick, the worst we’ve ever heard about the Chinese was a racist carnaval song that was pulled off the Internet featuring the lyrics “A Chinaman cannot see what’s above or below, in fact, he sees everything through a slit”.
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.
The racist door has now opened up as the Stop Oppressive Stereotypes (SOS) group published an open letter to the amusement park accusing it of featuring racist rides, one of which is Monsieur Cannibale and the other Carnaval Festival that features Asian stereotypes. However, Efteling asked SOS for a sit down and SOS haven’t responded yet – to be continued.
One side is telling the other to get a life and ideally a job and the other is having a ‘hey’ we never really saw things that way and it makes us feel uncomfortable moment, akin to the debate about Zwarte Piet. The Efteling says it mostly gets complaints about serving unhealthy food, but not about racist stereotypes.
I love Sacha Distel, the French singer and guitarist who sang this 1966 racist and sexist song that the Efteling chose to subject to children: it matches the ride perfectly in its bad taste. Distel’s song is about a white man captured in Africa by black cannibals who thought he was a spy, trying to politely plead the head cannibal (hence addressing him as Monsieur) not to eat him, but negotiates his way out of it by offering him porno magazines. The head cannibal laughs, brings the guy back to his harem for a week after which the guy lose 20 kilos and refuses to leave. The man basically shagged all the presumably black ladies who were all “hungry for it”.
Here’s a version of the song with a decent Dutch translation:
And since the French playback performance I posted in the original post was removed, here’s the same offensive performance sung in Spanish. He still pulls his eyes sideways to indicate the Chinese language at the beginning, so the Asian stereotypes are conveniently addressed by Distel as well.
The disturbingly casual Dutch terms ‘black schools’ and ‘white schools’ in the Netherlands, particularly in Amsterdam refer to schools with ‘kids that don’t look Dutch’ and ‘kids that look Dutch’ because Dutch is code for Caucasian and everything else gets lumped into ‘black’.
Unfortunately but not surprisingly, ‘black schools’ don’t do as well as ‘white schools’, and smart parents of both groups try to get their kids into ‘white schools’. Many parents will claim to want their kids to go to a ‘mixed school’, but they are only considered good schools when there’s more ‘white’ kids than ‘black’ kids.
Two schools in one neighbourhood decided to challenge this segregation by getting the ‘kids that don’t look Dutch’ to wear T-shirts that say ‘Is this white enough for you?’, so that two ‘mixed schools’ don’t close because more parents are sending their kids to ‘white schools’ in other neighbourhoods. It’s sad that small children are being taught that their skin colour is putting people off, to put it mildly.
Amsterdam is a city that proudly keeps counting how many different nationalities live together in harmony, but when it comes to schools, segregation is commonplace.
Politely called ‘shortsighted’ on the one hand and ‘racist’ on the other, but mostly referred to as ‘disgusting’, Dutch women’s magazine Viva has started a controversy by publishing an article called ’10 reasons to date a dark man’ full of predictable stereotypes. Dutch news magazine HP/De Tijd made an excellent point: Viva assumes all their readers are white, which represents the ‘eternal status quo’.
According to Viva, a ‘dark man’ has ‘dance moves’, will give you beautiful ‘half-blood’ children, has ‘big lips’, all have family living in ‘warm countries’, have more passion that Dutchmen (because ‘dark men can’t possibly be considered Dutch’ in their world view) and have bigger penises. And I left some stuff out.
Viva have taken the post offline after the editor-in-chief realised that all kinds of people were pissed at the posting and attempted to apologise. The editor-in-chief hadn’t read the posting. Maybe it’s time to double check your work.
Dutch comedian Guido Weijers stirred the pot on Facebook recently by placing the photo of a small boy advertising bear and ape cuddly toys for Zeeman (bargain items chain), with the ape cropped out and the words “ape or bear” left in.
By cropping out the ape Weijers tried to make a joke about why such a photo hadn’t been addressed in the Zwarte Piet discussion, comparing the boy to an ape. His joke fell flat and he spent some time writing apologies. He’s managed to piss off Zeeman (surely), the casting agency (probably), the mother (absolutely), and anyone including the Dutch courts who think Zwarte Piet is a relic.
When the boy’s mother saw the cropped version of the picture, she said it felt like her heart stopped and asked Weijers to remove the joke, which he refused to do. On a Dutch news show, she calmly explained that her son is in a very nice advert (his first photo shoot), and an adult has created an image of her son as an ape. “He’s five years old, he can’t defend himself and he’s proud to be in that picture,” she said clearly relaying her emotions.
Weijers apologised in a letter to the mother, saying he had no idea the joke would go that far, which is very lame considering he posted it online. The mother is considering pressing charges against Weijers.