“I can set standards. And I’m setting a standard here: this country will not tolerate this,” the PM said on 2 June, in response to the Black Lives Matter rallies. However, as the organisations put it in their letter: “In actual fact, we are seeing the opposite. This country does tolerate this.”
“Racism and discrimination receive attention in waves. It comes every once in a while, such as when the coronavirus crisis first began, and now that we’re seeing these global protest marches. But if it’s not really taken up afterwards, it will be overlooked,” explains Jingli Gao, the president of CSA-EUR.
Which is exactly what is currently happening in terms of discrimination against people from an Asian background, Gao has noticed. Back in February, there was a great deal of outrage at the coronavirus song. A petition entitled ‘We are not viruses!’ was signed by almost 58,000 people. Nearly three thousand people contacted the National Discrimination Hotline to complain about the song, and the DJ who played the song was reported to the police. But despite all that, the Public Prosecution Service did not publicise its decision not to press charges against the DJ, and the decision is hardly receiving any attention in the media.
“It feels as if we’re not being taken seriously, even though now, of all times, it is vital that we pay attention to all sorts of discrimination and racism.” The letter to the PM was written because the people who wrote it would like to receive some confirmation that they are being heard. They are not even particularly interested in protesting the decision not to press charges against the DJ. “I value artistic liberty and I understand that satire requires a certain level of freedom. But we’d like to have some form of recognition by a prime minister who will say: ‘We will not stand for this.’”
‘Want some sambal with that?’
“The current rallies are important, but let’s not forget about other forms of racism and discrimination,” Gao says in closing. “Some friends of mine who attended the anti-racism rally in Rotterdam were treated to stupid questions such as: ‘Want some sambal with that?’ [‘Sambal bij’, a phrase often associated with and used to mock Chinese restaurants; ed.] And the people asking those questions were protesting discrimination! I think that shows that we must speak out against all forms of racism and discrimination.”