Dear Mr. Abraham L.,
My Dearest Abraham,
How’ve you been? I enjoyed your letter on your trip to the South, what a wonderful place it is! Saying that as if I were there with you, your letters do that, don’t they? On another note, I wanted to thank you in person, more than others so. Weird? Bare with me there:
I am not sure which year it was, was it 2 years ago you and Mrs. Abraham L. were here, at the ball in fall? That’s where you confided in me that you derived and understood from my letters there was some kind of transition on its way. And, you touched me right there and then. You were one of few, if not the only one I knew of in real life, to recognize this for a fact. And speak to me about it. So there, that’s the first thank you reasoning.
On yet another note, leading up to the next thank you will need more work, you might want to sit down for that and perhaps get a coffee with that. Being in transition, I had no clue of what was going on. I understand better now. It took something as insignificant as a so-called children’s fest and people who stood up as a small civil rights movement to actually open my eyes. It took Jeremiah and myself going to Savannah, Georgia, Charleston, South Carolina and St. Augustine, Florida, on historic vacation, to understand what was happening. Or better yet, what was not happening.
There was no connect. Two and a half decades here, I have been and still am nothing more than an outsider to – apparently most – Dutch people. Autochtonen Dutch people, as they refer to themselves, to keep the rest of this story readable. Of course, I dislike and disapprove of that segmentation, but for reading purposes, it helps, here. They have not come to terms with the historic burden of their relationship with my ancestors and with me for that matter.
We can speak about what others did to the Dutch, we cannot speak about what the Dutch made others endure, including, but not solely, my grandparents. It’s not that far away, it’s not that long ago. How different it was in Savannah, Charleston, St. Augustine, where e.g. the musea we visited detailed not only the beauty of the artifacts but also, and with much respect, the blood that made the artefact reach historic value.
So yes, I believe my transition is final, I have always been self-confident and have fought discrimination and stood above it, but only now I know what the other side of that medallion is, which one not of the dominant party can do nothing about: racism. I am more self-confident than ever before, conscious of my past, which does not start with me.
That being said, I can no longer live in The Netherlands, knowing what I know now. Still learning about white privilege and dominant historically burdened relationships, which most Dutch still have to learn about and are in denial of on subject. “Many are in denial, but to deny you must first know what it is you are supposed to be denying, hence for themselves, they are not in denial.” As opposed to the US, racism is their, but there is no denial of the fact that it is. Do not deny my existence, and that is what the Dutch are actually saying. Through not saying it.
I do not want to be part of that society anymore, who after more than 2 decades does not fully accept me as part of society being a National, but merely sees me as a Guest. The odd thing is, “we” were always Dutch, it was just that the Dutch had their plantations on the other side of the Ocean and in heritage and tales for most it became non-existent. Guests, pfft, far from that! Very different from the USA, who had their plantations within the same continent, where the whole of it grew through good and bad and went through an evolution together, and still is going through that. We haven’t even started!
Only as of recent events in the last 6 months, I have started educating myself on what white privilege and historically burdened relationships mean, and, to me the above in between quote characterizes what is happening (or not happening) in Dutch society.
In discussions on voice-online.co.uk with truly academic scholars on subject, I am starting to understand now. I am sharing this with you, in full admiration and being thankful of knowing you, and knowing that this does not in any way apply to you. It does for lots of Dutch people I know, sadly including lots of friends, many of whom I feel I have lost just because of addressing the issue, which fits the roles nicely: the suppressed is not allowed to discuss with the suppressor.
Another quote opened my eyes:
“when someone not of the dominant party speaks about racism (not being equal to discrimination, self-confident individuals will and can stand above that), do not disrespectfully qualify them as victim. Try to listen and absorb. There WILL be no answers to your questions. Your questions cannot be validated, EVER. Just educate yourself. Listen. And do the right thing when you see it.”
Whether or not that is the case, I am hoping to have found another ally in you, through your Dutch connection with the Missus. It does not matter if I say it, I cannot exercise my white privilege to positive, simply because I don’t have that. Only through actually exercising your white privilege to positive things will start to change. I say another ally, because the only other I consciously know of in Dutch real life, is Jeremiah. He is on board, he knows now he has to do his part in that. Most of my friends of many years, are still in the dark. As are most of the Dutch. Should I not have had a role in that? I have asked myself that question, and conclude to no, I tried but not having the privilege, it makes no sense whatsoever.
I am tired of fighting against people who are and want to stay in denial, always having to rationalize that I too can be intelligent, having to rationalize that I too can be just Dutch and add to culture.
It’s my turn, my time, and I am not waiting for the Dutch to understand. That is a privilege I do have. So, again, thank you, with all that I have in my heart.
Your Friend from the South until recently living in the Old World,
**Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional and political crisis. In so doing he preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the national government and modernized the economy. Lincoln has been consistently ranked both by scholars and the public as one of the greatest U.S. presidents. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Lincoln).
To date, long after abolishment, and long after indentured labour, successors of slaves and indentured labourers are still fighting the relics of both. We still have a long way to go.**