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July 13, 2016

Killing the Magic

There is no way for me to begin this. I hit the backspace button so many times on these few words that I am shocked that we have arrived to the end of the second sentence. I think the first steps are always the hardest ones. #BlackLivesMatter Let's just do this!

I am a 23 year old living in one of the best cities in the Netherlands: Rotterdam. I am also a woman and I am black. Many people may not understand the gravity of what they've just read but to be all those things make me one of the least privileged people in the world and unfortunately I am one of many. According to Buzzfeed's privilege test I scored 33 out of 100 meaning that I am not privileged at all. I grew up on an island and I think that sheltered me from getting an even lower score on the test. I would love to begin this by saying that there has never been a time that I have been more or even that there has never been a time that I have been less but I cannot. You see not much has actually changed for my demographic and that is why I am writing.

In the wake of last week's shootings many have come out on social media criticizing the #BlackLivesMatter movement calling it the new KKK. A movement for equality and really the right to live and not be harassed is being called a terrorist group! For years black people have been told that they are free but we have always had conditional freedom. You can get angry but you are not allowed to do so in public because you should not come across as aggressive. I could tell you that slavery was an American problem and that the civil rights movement was theirs as well. I could point out that no black people are being shot by cops in the Netherlands or the Caribbean and I would not be a complete liar. That is probably the reason why most people outside the USA are unconcerned but let me be clear on one thing. If you are black you are at risk.

A sprinter born on the island of Curacao runs for the Dutch national team and he is very good. Churandy Martina actually won the European 200M championship this year but was disqualified because his foot was on the line. One would think that our country would feel sad about the fact that the gold was taken away but happy that he is so fast that he could win in the Olympics. That was not the case! When winning Churandy was referred to as the Dutch runner but when he lost he was suddenly the islander. That is the Netherlands I live in! Statian young men and women live in cities like Rotterdam and Amsterdam where being black is normal but also live in places like Leeuwarden where they are viewed as criminals. Let us not forget about the justice system problems we have in the Netherlands where blacks who are in the minority somehow manage to commit the most crimes and spend the longest time in prison. Sound familiar yet? I live in a country that allows people to say "all black people are from the ghetto in public", only to hear that the person is free to say what they would like. I am live in country that thinks that if a black woman is being harassed or even robbed by a black man that they must know each other.

Many consider peace as the only way and that we should not be too forward in our dealings. "Ignore the racists" they say. "They are idiots and a waste of time", I am told. "Don't retaliate because you will make your race look worse." All of this and still I have yet to hear a person say that the slavery rebellions in which black slaves slaughtered their masters was a bad move. How can we then think that in 2016 we should react with peace? How can we say that we should not fight IF we have to? I will not criticize black Americans for standing up for their rights, I will continue to criticize blacks around the world who do not. Progressive news stations like the Young Turks have been telling the truth about our problems as a race for years and yet it has taken the massacres of our brothers and sisters for us to start talking. Racism is not dead, discrimination breathes and slavery merely shapeshifted. Now ask yourself how much longer you are prepared to accept this life and do you want the same life for future generations?

The Netherlands will never carry Jackie Aina's ELF eyeshadow palette and I will never walk into an Etos and find my shade of drugstore foundation unless we do something about it. Unless we start demanding everything that we want. Until we stop working on July 1st (Slavery Emancipation Day) and allowing our children to celebrate Sinterklaas with Zwarte Piet nothing will change. Until you scream no more TOGETHER nothing will happen. At the 2016 BET Awards Jesse Williams called the black race magic it's time for us to tell the world that WE ARE REAL!

XOXO,

IslandGyal