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Als wij niets doen, wie dan? – oncomfortabele gesprekken voeren om vooruit te komen

25 mei 2020. De gruwelijke dag dat George Floyd in de Verenigde Staten werd vermoord door de politie, in het bijzijn van vele getuigen die gewoon rustig hun boodschappen wilde doen. Helaas is dit niet een unieke gebeurtenis. Het gebeurt meer dan ik me ooit kan voorstellen. Waarom dat gebeurt? Om hij een donkere huidskleur heeft. Ik zal de beweegredenen hierachter nooit kunnen beseffen. Een ander persoon veroordelen en vermoorden op basis van kleur is niet iets wat bij humaniteit past.

De reden dat juist de dood van George Floyd zorgde dat de wereld wakker werd, kwam doordat een 17-jarig meisje 8,5 minuut lang filmde hoe de politieagent op de nek van de man zat en dit vervolgens op Facebook deelde. Door deze moord werd het kookpunt bereikt. De druppel die de emmer liet overlopen. Ze filmde dat de man steeds maar riep dat hij niet kon ademen. Ze filmde dat omstanders riepen dat de agent van de man af moest gaan, want hij reageerde niet meer. Ze filmde dat de agent daar niks om gaf en dat de agenten om hem heen er niks om gaven. Ze filmde dat George Floyd overleed. De video ging viraal en wij beseften met z’n allen wat voor gruwelen er, nog steeds, rondspoken in de wereld.

Veel witte mensen, inclusief ik, stonden niet echt stil bij racisme. Logisch, want we maken het niet zelf mee in ons dagelijks leven. Ik ben nog nooit gediscrimineerd op basis van mijn ras en ik zal ook nooit begrijpen hoe dat voelt. Veel mensen, inclusief ik, stonden niet stil bij het feit dat witte privilege wel echt een ding is. De video van George Floyd maakte me veel emotioneler dan ik had kunnen bedenken. De neiging om mijn emoties te uiten en mijn standpunt te delen met anderen borrelde naar boven. Ik kon dit niet negeren. Hoewel ik me altijd redelijk op de achtergrond heb gehouden wat betreft discussies over racisme, wist ik na het zien van die 8,5 minuut lange video dat dit niet langer kon. Eng om mijn standpunt en hiermee mijn waarden te delen? Ja, natuurlijk. Zeker racisme is een gevoelig onderwerp in Nederland en zeker niet geliefd. Zodra iemand zegt dat hij tegen Zwarte Piet is, dan krijgt diegene de volle laag van personen die zich koste wat kost willen vasthouden aan tradities.

Dus nee, gemakkelijk is het niet om je uit te spreken over een bepaalde standpunt. Maar die ongemakkelijkheid is ontelbaar zoveel makkelijker dan te sterven in de handen van een man die in het leven is geroepen om jou te beschermen. Dat doet niet alleen fysiek pijn, dat doet emotioneel nog veel meer pijn.

Het liefste zou ik elke dag een vrolijk verhaal willen vertellen, zodat we allemaal kunnen lachen. Jij blij, ik blij. Maar zolang we niet allemaal op een comfortabele manier over straat kunnen lopen, met elkaar samen kunnen leven en op een gelijke manier behandeld worden, bestaan mijn verhalen niet enkel uit vrolijke dingen. Ik kan de wereld niet in mijn eentje verbeteren, hoe graag ik het ook zou willen. Ik kan echter wel mijn steentje bijdragen, op mijn eigen manier. En dat betekent dat ik zal luisteren, mezelf zal onderwijzen en vooral mijn omgeving scherp zal houden. Dat betekent dat er oncomfortabele gesprekken gevoerd moeten worden. Gesprekken met je familie, met je vrienden, met je collega’s. Niet door ze te veroordelen, maar door open te zijn. Niemand houdt ervan om in een oncomfortabele situatie te stappen en toch is het de enige manier waarop we vooruit kunnen. Ook al hebben we de Zwarte Piet-traditie niet gestart, ook zijn wij niet degene die de slavernij hebben bedacht en meegemaakt, ook al waren wij niet bij de keuzes die onze voorouders hebben gemaakt, wij zijn wel verantwoordelijk om onze samenleving beter te maken voor alle kinderen die straks volwassen zijn en voor alle kinderen die nog geboren moeten worden. Als wij niets doen, wie dan?

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