Those few articles on Icelandic racism posted on this website recently have greatly annoyed me. Let me explain myself. I am Dutch. “Ohhh, she’s white, she doesn’t know what racism is.” Oh please. I’m Dutch Caribbean: an Antillean. I have ancestors that have worked on a plantation, others have owned it. In my family trees are German landowners, Spaniards, Native Americans, African slaves and Chinese sailors. I’m a dark-skinned (fyi) melting pot, which is the norm for most people coming from the island of Curaçao, where I am from.
In my experience, after living here for over a year, Icelanders are not racist. I spent eighteen years in Curacao, after which I lived for three years in Maastricht (Netherlands) and two years in Berlin. I also spent six months in New York before moving here. While holding a Dutch passport, as all those from the Dutch Caribbean are bound to do, I have been discriminated against in the Netherlands. We’re seen as and registered as “foreigners” even though we’ve been part of the Kingdom for longer than most of the south of The Netherlands. I’ve been called a dirty Turk, been told that “All Antilleans are uneducated parasites,” and been given nasty glances by some of my fellow Dutch citizens.
In Germany I was brusquely told that, as I’m in Germany, I’m expected to speak German. And while that’s not a racist thing to say, it was definitely not friendly or welcoming toward a foreigner. I’m not even going to mention New York.
But in Iceland? Nope. Never. People here have always been extremely friendly and welcoming. And yeah, there was a restaurant with a black man’s caricature on it. So what? People have painted their faces black for a party. So what? I come from an island where every December, Sinterklaas and his blackface Petes hand out presents to little kids. While this has sparked a huge debate in the Netherlands, the islands, where slave trade actually took place, won’t even think about getting rid of this tradition.
Icelanders are not racist. They are also not politically correct. Their blatant curiosity, while occasionally intrusive, is also extremely charming. When you’re from a homogenous population and you meet someone that looks different, of course you want to know where they’re from, what they’re doing here and if everyone where they’re from looks like them.
I am tired of these oversensitive people constantly pointing at stuff and calling out “racism!” as soon as colour, or lack thereof is involved. Political correctness has taken this race issue and made it something it is not: omnipresent.
Just because you’re coloured doesn’t mean you’re special. Just because you’re white doesn’t mean you have to treat me as special. We’re all equal. Get over it. Mistaking curiosity for racism is extremely dumb. Generalizing the whole Icelandic population to the possible 0.0001% that actually doesn’t like you because of your skin colour… well that’s racist isn’t it?
Icelandic People Are Not Racist, But…
You probably know that when a sentence begins, “I am not a racist, but…” the second part of that sentence is usually destined to be pretty racist (which is the polar opposite of when people say, “Well, I am no scientist, but…” where what follows will definitely not be scientific).
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