"More people of colour in the cabinet" was one of the ideas during the College Tour - effects of the slave past in the present. This a unique opportunity for students to talk to State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen (Kingdom Relations) and Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf (Education & Culture). More than a hundred young adults with an Afro-Caribbean background seized this opportunity.
Those present hoped for concrete commitments to their ideas, but they have not yet materialised. Various ideas were put forward. From a tax scheme for descendants regarding student debt to July 1, making the abolition of slavery a national holiday. Another wondered how the movement against gender discrimination may seem to be moving so much faster than the fight against racism. Another wanted more people of colour in the cabinet.
The conversation was held on Monday 19 June during the first edition of the College Tour at the University of Applied Sciences Rotterdam, in a series of four. The meetings have been set up by various ministries to get input for their anti-discrimination policy. The first three editions are intended to enter a dialogue about the impact of the slave past. The last edition will reflect on the ideas mentioned, and the next steps will be mentioned.
"Why is education about the past of slavery possible in a museum and not in education?"
We spoke to many students, teachers, and ministers about their participation in College Tour Rotterdam.
Senna has a gap year and currently works at an educational institution and is a teacher at the Wereldmuseum. "I am often confronted with the colonial past in both areas of work. The museum provides me with a lot of support and information on this subject, which I can then use in my lessons at school. Unfortunately, not all aspects are well explained in the textbooks, and there is little room for your own interpretation. During homework supervision, I try to provide extra information about the slave history. Why is education about the impact of the slave past possible in a museum and not in education?"
“Fortunately, young people are increasingly making their voices heard, and platforms such as this College Tour contribute to spreading their voice and facilitating conversations with important ministers."
"Greatest awareness should come from the white side."
Robbert Dijkgraaf, Minister of Education, Culture and Science: “We are all on the move together, and it is our task not to let the discussion about the impact of the slave past slip out of our hands, both from policy and the organizations in the field. I think that the greatest awareness should come from the white side of society."
At university and at work, Evelien, a master’s student of Bio Medical Sciences, has had many racist experiences. Evelien recognizes the existing problem and wonders how she can contribute. “For me, College Tour Rotterdam is an important platform that I like to be a part of.” During the meeting, she felt it was important to ask questions that matched the needs of the audience. “My view on the impact of the slave past has remained unchanged, but I appreciate that there are ministers who think about this subject,” Evelien emphasizes the importance of acknowledgement and reflecting on the past to prevent a recurrence. Her tip to fellow students is: "Make your voice heard! You don't have to bottle it up."
State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitization, Alexandra van Huffelen, has the main goal of eradicating racism and discrimination in her lifetime. She is determined to solve this problem within her generation. She believes that listening to each other and working together is essential. According to her, the government should not make decisions unilaterally but jointly come up with solutions. It is her belief that we don't have to wait any longer and that we can tackle this problem.
"The question: 'Is Curaçao located in Africa or Suriname? That is not possible?!'"
Kevin, a student of the Shipping and Transport College. “I found the conversations during the College Tour interesting, and I thought there was a lot of interaction between the young people and the ministers. I believe in raising awareness among the local population of the Netherlands. Many people don't know what happened in the past. It seems that because of this we do not always understand each other. In education, we must focus more on the slave past so that the new generation comes closer together. As a Curaçaoan, I notice that strange questions are still being asked, such as: is Curaçao in Africa or Suriname? That's impossible?!"
Change in perception starts with the islands (Curaçao, Bonaire, Aruba), believes Naomi, a third-year Creative Business student. And that we must cooperate with the Netherlands. “For example, education is not at the same level as in the Netherlands, which is why young people who come to the Netherlands cannot keep up the pace. We must be aligned to work towards a better future.”
Rizane Golamun is an advisor on inclusive education and the colonial past at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. "Tackling inequality is crucial in education. Unfortunately, education does not always tell the whole truth, and the stereotypes in the teaching materials reinforce the negative image of black people. We need to look critically at our textbooks to avoid pseudoscience so that we pass on accurate knowledge. Education is here to play a repairing role and teach young generations the truth, for a more just society."
What is the College Tour?
The College Tour is a series of four meetings in which young people are allowed to come into direct contact with ministers and state secretaries. The aim is to create an open and meaningful dialogue between the ministers and the young generation. During the Rotterdam College Tour, the history of slavery is the central topic of discussion.
Experiences with discrimination, racism and anti-black racism were shared and students were allowed to ask questions to the ministers responsible for policy in the areas of education, social affairs and the relationship between the Netherlands and the Caribbean islands. In addition to the meaningful dialogue, there were several impressive performances, Spoken Word performances by Britney Lindo and Zaïre Krieger, musical performances by Rincho X with Tambù and OTION closed with a powerful and healing song. The entire evening was organized by IZI Solutions, Black Manifest Collective and SABI.
If you want to attend the next College tour, mail: info@izi-solutions