I got away from that situation by standing up for myself. First physically, when I realized that the boys bullying me after school were actually only half my size. Then academically. By excelling in my studies, and letting their ignorance fuel my determination. So being a biracial woman hasn’t always been easy. And institutional racism is something that needs to be addressed globally, which includes my country. Because let’s face it, Black Pete is still here. Successful black men driving luxury cars are still pulled over at a disproportionate rate, because ‘they must be drug dealers’. And behind the scenes a substantial number of Dutch police officers still feel this type of ethnic profiling is justified.
However, institutional racism has taken on cosmic proportions in the United States. I spent my weekend watching horrific videos of black people being murdered by white cops. Of peaceful protests being beaten down violently by police officers foaming from the mouth. Of Twitter wars ending with people blatantly stating that black protesters need to shut the hell up and get back to the plantation, backed by a president who is unapologetically racist in his comments and deafeningly silent in his condemnation of the root cause of the protests. Black people are not safe in the United States right now. They are standing up for themselves and I support that 100%. They have been bullied for centuries. They have been made to feel inferior on too many occasions. I sincerely hope they can come to a point where they can strategize and figure out ways to curb the political system in their favor. But to be honest, everything I know about how the brain operates, about in-group favoritism, about confirmation bias, which leads you to process all incoming information in a way that fits the world view that you already had, tells me that it will be incredibly difficult. I hope it can be peaceful. I hope it can be political. But when all your peaceful protests have been knocked down, when the social contract between you and the society you live in has been broken on so many occasions by that same society, what are you to do?
I am utterly, incredibly, infinitely thankful for the fact that I was born in a country in which I had access to education. In which a college education is not reserved for the privileged. And in which I have never had to fear for my life because of the way I look. We have a long way to go in my country, and most likely in your country as well, whatever country that may be. Institutional racism is everywhere, and I have no idea how to fix it. But I sincerely hope that someday, we will come to a point where we realize that the whole idea of ‘race’ based on skin color is arbitrary, and there is really only one: the human race. Let’s show our humanity and stand in support of #BlackLivesMatter.