Dutch Minister speaks out about racism experienced by her family
Minister Sigrid Kaag of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation spoke about how her family experiences racism in their daily life, both in the Netherlands and abroad, on talk show Op1 on Sunday. Her husband was once mistaken for a handyman because of his darker skin tone, and she often has to explain that her children are indeed her children, she said.
According to Kaag, Netherlands residents should not look at what is happening in the United States and think that this is not something that happens in the Netherlands. "In the Netherlands it is often thought that we do not have the problems that they know in America," she said. It is thought that we do not have the same history. But we also have a colonial past. We often also condone things and say: oh, well,it is not that bad. A bit clumsily said, but there is nothing really behind it."
But, she added: "If you add it up, there is of course a story. Because it is not for the majority to determine how it feels and how people are excluded." She knows this from personal experience. "Because I also look very much through the eyes of my children and my husband."
For example, once in New York people thought her husband was a handyman, because of the color of his skin. "Then I had to say: he is a dentist. And my husband." When they visit Switzerland, Kaag always drives instead of her husband, so that it is easier to cross the border. "It's just how it is," she said. "In the Netherlands, my children come home with some sort of story every week." Her children has her husband's last name. "One of my children said at some point when applying for a job: let me call myself Kaag. Well, bingo. Then she was suddenly invited to an interview."
"People mean well, but then they say, for example: hey, dark children. Not your's surely?" Kaag said. There is a lot of naivety behind it, according to the Minister. "But there is also a lack of knowledge and awareness of how we as a society are organized." That is why the anti-racism protests throughout the Netherlands this past week is so good, she said. They create awareness. "We really have to do this together."