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Vandaag laten we Alex David Rosaria aan het woord.
If you are still in doubt, hate, racism and discrimination really exist in Curaçao. After the last outcry of a radio person and father of the Minister Plenipotentiary (GevMin) that Nazis should have killed more Dutch people because a European Dutch journalist had criticized his son, I thought: should I laugh at this nonsense? But after the umpteenth hate speech against foreigners, the LGBTQ+, Asians, Jews, to name a few, my laughter has long since died.
How would my father have liked it if that journalist had suggested that the crew on one of the slave ships from Africa to our island should have overturned the ancestors of the GevMin in the Atlantic Ocean? Probably fewer people would have shrugged. Then it would have been a white attack on blacks. Because what strikes me here is that some assume that racism is a one-way street. That is not the case. Hate speech is not limited to one race, gender, or religious institution.
For years we have kept ourselves sweet with the belief that there is no hate virus here because “dozens of different nationalities live side by side”. So we are tolerant is the conclusion. Error. Being anti-racist and anti-hate monger does not mean tolerating each other but fighting in deed and word so that everyone, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, sexual preference, or mother tongue, have the same rights and obligations to be themselves.
Many institutionalized discrimination no longer exists. One of the last battles brave men and women have waged is against legal discrimination against women. Institutional discrimination against the LGBTQ+, on the other hand, persists as some groups, especially Christian organizations, continue to insist that equal rights do not apply to people of a certain sexual orientation. We need courageous men and women again, regardless of their sexual preferences, to fight against this discrimination.
The hate virus is mainly maintained through our contemporary language (use). How often have we heard: “She is black but beautiful (or intelligent or delicate)”. Names for groups such as kuli, bedji, sabachi, house negro are still used. How many times have we read in the papers that the 45 million Yoruba population in Africa is a tribe, but that word is never used for Iceland which has only 350,000 souls? Or that Amharic, a language dating back 2000 years, with its own alphabet and spoken by 65 million people, is a dialect?
Our language is decisive. Few people say openly: I’m racist or hate speech. But that doesn’t mean it’s right. The hate virus can be compared to the coronavirus: not visible to the naked eye, but extremely contagious and subject to mutations. Like the case of the coronavirus, we need to work on the antidote. Pay close attention to our language use and that of our environment. If it discriminates or hurts a group, we need to stop it. We can’t stay in the middle, hoping this will blow over or shove it under the rug. Sooner or later a bomb will explode.
Alex David Rosaria (53) is a freelance consultant active in Asia & Pacific. He is a former Member of Parliament, Minister of Economic Affairs, State Secretary of Finance and UN Implementation Officer in Africa and Central America. He’s from Curaçao and has a MBA from the University of Iowa. (USA).