On Wednesday afternoon, several thousand demonstrators gathered on Willemsplein for the #BlackLivesMatter protest. EUR students were also among the protestors. Master student James has never experienced discrimination himself, but he has often witnessed racism. “When we go out, my white friends never have problems with the police,” he says. “But it’s a completely different story for my coloured friends. And they are often penalised more heavily than white people.”
Student nurse Tyrone Lantveld agrees with Foss. He regularly experiences racism. “Once a friend and I went to Albert Heijn. The security guard kept following us. It started to get a bit annoying, so we asked him why he was doing that. He said: ‘I think you’re out to steal something. You look like people who steal.’”
Student Amina Bangura, who’s on a gap year, has also encountered racism. “I was at the climate protest. Because I was just about the only black person there, I attracted a lot of attention. I was photographed and interviewed.” But not in a positive way, she says. “I got the feeling that people were thinking: ‘Oh look, a black person. I can use her picture for diversity.’” She wouldn’t go so far to say that she was used by white people just for the image of diversity and inclusion. “But sometimes that’s what it feels like.”
The role of the university
Master student of Global Markets, Local Creativities Wing So has a clear opinion about the role of the university. She feels that the university should show more sensitivity. “I think it’s important to realise that students of colour struggle with racism and the university should have said something about this openly,” says So. “White people don’t need to adopt a position on this issue, but it means a lot if they do.”
The police ended the protest half an hour early, because the mayor felt that there were too many people present to be able to practise social distancing.