Thiëmo Heilbron & Mitchell Esajas

Fawaka Nederland & New Urban Collective

Institutional Racism

Mitchell Esajas is Chairman and Co-founder of New Urban Collective; a culturally diverse network that focuses on education and support young professionals with migrant backgrounds, especially those of African descent, to strengthen their socioeconomic positions. He also works actively across the Netherlands to reduce racism. Thiëmo Heilbron is Founder and Director at Fawaka Nederland, an initiative that aims to show-case the positive environmental and social work that individuals from across the 190 cultural backgrounds in the Netherlands are doing, thus acting as role models to inspire others. In their interview they explain the roots of institutional racism, the personal impact it has on individuals in our societies today; and the work their organisations are doing to address racism in the Netherlands.

What is institutional racism?

  • 3 forms of racism: cultural, individual, institutional racism
  • Stokely Carmichael coined the term ‘institutional racism’
  • rooted in history of slavery and colonialism
  • ‘race’ a taboo now speak of ethnicity
  • hierarchy of ethnicities in society

What is the personal impact of institutional racism?

  • institutional racism in police, labour market, education system
  • structural impact and psychological impact
  • Black Pete – mirroring the earlier caricature portrayal of African people as foolish, clowns, primitive, emotional.
  • how economic system of slavery was legitimised through dehumanisation
  • the long term effect on Thiëmo of vocalising his feelings about Black Pete

Can institutional racism be tackled by organisations operating in the public sphere?

  • Fawaka Nederland
  • Fawaka means “what’s up?” in Surinamese
  • what % of the population of Amsterdam is from migrant backgrounds?
  • break the stereotypes
  • young generation confronting past and contributing to future of Netherlands