Racism: The other global pandemic – academia is not immune

By the Chief Diversity Officer Team

University of Amsterdam students and staff have been speaking out against racism and have joined the protests and manifestations last week. The Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) team is asking the UvA community not to stay silent. Silence condones. Police brutality and anti-Black violence cannot be tolerated.

The Chief Diversity Officer Team takes a knee in solidarity with the Black community suffering in the U.S. under racial injustice. Our hearts go out to the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others who have been murdered at the hands of racially charged violence and police brutality. We saw thousands take to the streets to protest the same systemic racism that occurs in the Netherlands, including at Dutch universities. We encourage everyone in the UvA community to take action: learn the history of anti-Black racism in the Netherlands; listen to and amplify Black voices; have conversations with peers and family members, learn together, educate others and speak out against anti-Black rhetoric in the spaces you occupy. To those who are grieving and are tired of the fight: we see you, we hear you; you are not alone. 

We have a problem with systemic racism in the Netherlands, we want to encourage all UvA students and staff to speak out against discrimination, encourage the difficult conversation, show respect to the voices speaking out, learn from each other, take personal responsibility, become active bystanders, learn how to be an ally.  

To build a better future, we need to build a better UvA—one where everyone has space to be their authentic self, no matter their background, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, class, physical and/or mental (dis)ability or beliefs. We want to highlight the importance of listening to each other, learning from each other, hearing each other’s narratives and supporting survivors of discrimination and racism.

Every member of our university community is responsible for participating in the cultural change necessary to fight discrimination. We call on all leaders of the university to take responsibility for this change within their circle of influence. Students and staff should all be involved in opportunities to educate themselves and others in ways that improve or critically engage with racist discourse. By doing this, we all share responsibility for creating an inclusive education.

We include sources to guide us on this journey below. For more information about what the CDO team is working on, please read the CDO Team 2.0 annual report for 2019 and year plan for 2020 which can be found on our blog.

For those who have experienced racist or discriminatory practices at the UvA, please refer to our help-seeking resources for information on how you can report these incidents. It is also possible to report outside the UvA structure at: Meldpunt discriminatie regio Amsterdam.

Wishing us all strength and courage,

Dr. Anne de Graaf, Chief Diversity Officer, University of Amsterdam

Chief Diversity Officer Team

Racism: What can I do?

As many have said before us, read, watch and or listen to these videos, podcasts, and articles to increase your understanding. We also want to use this space to encourage people to donate to, follow and amplify the voices of Black people and people of color, those who have been actively talking about racism in the Netherlands for many years. See, for example:

We know some people are posting on social media. We know some are protesting in the streets.

We know some are donating silently, some are matching donations. We know some people are educating themselves. We know some people are having tough conversations with friends and family. We want to encourage people to keep doing all these different things.  As we continue on the many roads to change, please be kind to yourself and others who are heading in the same direction. 

The CDO team has been working on developing a Perspectives/Decolonization/Anti-racism toolkit (working title) for the UvA community, based on a wide variety of research and input.  Below are a few recommendations, a sneak preview from our toolkit, a work-in-progress..




Get out and about:

Follow on social media and donate to:

Organizations and voices in the Netherlands

Organizations and voices in the U.S.

We believe it is most important for Black voices in the Netherlands to be heard, and we want to use our platform to show support for these voices. The above lists are not exhaustive, just some examples of what is available. 

We, as the CDO Team, are inspired by the famous words of James Baldwin,  “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”  

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