96 cents for change

Today, a letter went out to the Dutch Parliament on behalf of a broad and diverse coalition of minority groups, including Black, Muslim, Asian, Roma and Sinti, refugee and Jewish voices. Actually, I am proud to say that I was the one that printed the final version and put it in an envelope. A letter as an agent of change. Costs: three stamps at 96 cents a piece. 

Why am I so proud? The letter calls for an acknowledgement of the way institutional racism and discrimination function in our society. It presents 11 action points, such as the appointment of a national coordinator against discrimination and racism, the criminalisation of ethnic profiling and the setting of clear goals for cultural diversity within all (semi) public and private institutions.  

The formation of a new coalition government presents a window of opportunity to exert influence on the coalition agreement, the document which outlines the new government’s policies. Although sending letters to the informateur is a well practiced tradition in the Netherlands, I don’t believe there ever was such a diverse group like this that has decided to pull their resources together against racism. 

For me, this initiative sits exactly on the sweet spot where the fight against racism meets the fight against antisemitism: where they are acknowledged as systems of discrimination. From this understanding it follows logically that solidarity between groups that are facing forms of discrimination is essential in creating change. Together we are not a fragmented tiny minority any longer, fighting only for ‘our own cause’ and we can push collectively for meaningful change and propose concrete language that we expect the government to consider. 

Still, there is one reason for disappointment. Among the over 110 organisations who signed the letter, there is only one Dutch Jewish organisation to be found. Amongst Jewish organisations, we need to have some indispensable and urgent conversations to address this discrepancy between the desired end result – a society free from all forms of racism and discrimination – and the obvious necessary way to get there: a clear vision on why antisemitism and antiracism need to be addressed all at once, and as a consequence, solidarity and cooperation between minorities in order to transform proposals into policy and practice. I would be glad to spend another 96 cents to make this change happen.

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