Today, Tuesday 2 June 2020, I choose to blackout my social media channels in solidarity, from the moment I post this message. I will join the many people who have made the same choice. As an elected politician, I strive to be transparent about my choices. Therefore, I will state my reasons for pausing social media posts for the remainder of the day, as I have done up to now.
The images of George Floyd’s killing by police brutality have sparked a wave of protests in the United States. There have been attempts to diminish these protests, and millions of people have weighed in. Both in good and bad faith.
Over the weekend, people in cities outside of the US have marched as well. Not just to show solidarity with the American protesters, but also to address the structural racism and discrimination that exists to this day. In Europe and countries all over the world. The inhumane indignities suffered by people of colour are still with us. Both large and small, but always unacceptable. The US and Europe share this problem, and it is no coincidence. As the American author James Baldwin stated, Europeans brought forth the American system that is causing grief and suffering to this day.
I was at the protest at Amsterdam’s Dam Square. Close to where once the headquarters of the WIC stood. The trade company that monopolized the Dutch slave trade. A poorly understood chapter in Dutch history. With two other protesters I touched upon this poor grasp of history, on a Dutch television programme that evening.
And while there are valid arguments to consider in the debate between health and the right to demonstrate, we must not lose sight of the importance of the demonstration this Monday. A unexpectedly high number of people found this issue too important, to pass on. People of all colors stood side by side. They showed up to protest systematic racism in our institutions, our communities and to support the Black Lives Matter movement. I stand in solidarity against racism and for justice.
Last year, I gave a speech in memory of Martin Luther King jr. In the speech I focused on the importance of activism and what role it should play in the life and work of political leaders. I stated that protest should serve as a guiding light. That sometimes we have to put aside the discomfort that is an inherent aspect of activism. That we have to harness its energy, to truly work on what mattters. In this case a message about deep pain that spans generations, and an urgent need for justice.
That is why today, I choose to stay silent for the remainder of the day. So that the message can maintain it strength.