Universities around the world realize that they have a responsibility to pursue diversity, inclusion and equity, but struggle with the approach. How does one make room for multiple perspectives and contribute to cultural, structural and institutional change? During this launch on October 5th, Diversity day, the CDO team of the UvA presents their new decolonization toolkit for people inside and outside universities who want to learn and educate themselves and others.
After the Maagdenhuisbezetting, the report ‘Let’s Do Diversity’, the appointment of the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) team at the UvA, BLM protests worldwide, and the city of Amsterdam’s acknowledgment of its role in slavery, the CDO team presents a decolonization toolkit for employees and students, so everyone can start doing the work that needs to be done.
Decolonization affects all parts of the university in different ways; from student life and student affairs, accessibility, admissions, curriculum, community engagement, staff recruitment, work culture, to research and academia itself. The Perspectives project/Decolonization toolkit is an invitation to the entire UvA community to take part in a shared responsibility. The toolkit is not an academic paper, but an accessible and practical tool for employees, students, managers and faculties and anyone outside the UvA who wants to learn and educate themselves and others.
During this launch, the learning platform’s first version will be presented, supported by a keynote speaker on decolonization. This evening is also an invitation for the audience to share their thoughts and stay included in the next steps of bringing the toolkit to the university.
About the speakers
Mitchell Esajas (keynote speaker) is co-founder of New Urban Collective, a network for students and young professionals from diverse backgrounds with a focus on the Surinamese, Caribbean and African diaspora. Esajas studied Business Studies and Anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In 2016 he co-founded The Black Archives in Amsterdam, a cultural center based on a unique collection of books, documents and artefacts documenting the histories of Surinamese and Black people in the Dutch context. The Black Archives develops exhibitions and public programs based on the collections and urgent societal issues. By working with artists, academics, communities and other organizations they aim to make this hidden history visible again.
Alfrida Martis (Alfie) is an Afro-Bonairian writer, public speaker and community organizer. She has been part of the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) team at the University of Amsterdam since April 2018, as a researcher and educator, and a project leader for the Homework Hub. She also teaches and coordinates workshops with her colleague Janissa Jacobs, while advising on inclusive pedagogies and diversity literacy. In January 2021, she got appointed as diversity officer at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. She holds a BA degree in Media & Culture Studies, and an MA degree in New Media & Digital Culture, both from the University of Amsterdam. Outside of academia, she works as an independent advisor in the cultural and arts scene, specializing in anti-racism, intersectionality and decolonization work. With her partner Daudi Cijntje, she co-founded and co-organizes Caribbean Ancestry Club: a platform that unites and amplifies the voices of afro-indigenous ABCSSS islanders.
Janissa Jacobs joined the Chief Diversity Officer team in August 2019 as management assistant to Anne de Graaf. Her tasks include strategic advice, administrative activities, facilitating workshops, and providing the Diversity Team with logistic and planning support. In her role, she co-facilitates tailored diversity workshops with Alfrida Martis for UvA students and staff. Prior to this, she specialized in business development and strategy at a global leadership advisory firm. Janissa has a MSc in International Public Management and Policy and she speaks Dutch, English, Spanish and Papiamentu; sometimes at the same time. As an avid lover of poetry, literature, and writing; Janissa is interested in exploring the role of creative outlets as a tool for healing past pain and trauma.
Munir de Vries is an artist/illustrator based in Utrecht (born and raised in Amsterdam, The Netherlands ), strongly motivated to find new places and hunt for new experiences and stories. Munir’s graffiti background enables him to visualize new found perspectives, stories and ideas into the environment they are from. Munir does not believe in values as low-art/high-art and aims to create work accessible to people independent of their socio economic background. Besides murals and installations, he also does graphic and editorial work for media and organizations such as De Correspondent, De Volkskrant, NRC and HKU. Munir worked as an illustrator in the creative team that developed the toolkit.
Natisha Engel is a graphic designer from Curaçao based in The Hague, The Netherlands. Natisha has a background in Communications and combines this with her passion and drive for Graphic Design to create bold visual messages. Natisha worked on the graphic design of the toolkit together with the team of creatives, consisting of Gyor Moore (project leader / branding), Nazrina Rodjan (visual storyteller), Kalib Batta (copy writer) and Studio Divv (webdevelopment).
Kevv. is a singer and songwriter who grew up on Curaçao. His writing style is strongly influenced by his Caribbean culture, which is also the reason why he writes Papiamentu, English and Dutch songs. Kevv.’s passion for music was evident from an early age. His favorite genres are R&B, hip hop, urban and zouk and his songs are generally about love, life and let-downs.
Tirsa With a growth marketer by day and an oral storyteller by night. She is a poet, (voice) actress and literary translator. Her fascination with all things audio and spoken word is rooted in her Maroon Surinamese heritage. In her thesis research into their oral storytelling traditions, she argued that unlike Western literary theorists proclaimed, this too is literature. In 2020 she graduated cum laude from Amsterdam University College, majoring in literary and cultural studies. She then went on to the Slow Writing Lab fellowship by the Dutch literary fund for creative writing graduates. Her short story “Schrammen voel je tenminste” was published in the internationally acclaimed anthology de Goede Immigrant by Uitgeverij Pluim. With translated and narrated Brown Girl Dreaming, the poetic memoir by award winning novelist Jacqueline Woodson. With is currently employed as a Growth Hacking Trainee at Bookit via the Talent Institute. She also offers support to fellow spoken word artist Zaïre Krieger in the translation of Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem and anthology.