Playing the Numbers Game

At this point, it should be indisputable that there are inequalities in the Dutch political, educational, judicial and legal systems, and in the housing and labour market. Countless state reports with facts and statistics about racial inequality have been produced, and yet Black people are still expected to ‘prove’ the reality of structural racism. We suffocate under the weight of evidence. And the expectation that we attend, underneath that burden, to the White demand for detectable and ‘unambiguous’ proof, in the face of racial violence that is gratuitous and structural, is perverse. Even when the evidence presented is unambiguous (when something recognizably racist has taken place), it is still made subject to argument. The persistent White demand for more ‘proof’ raises a number of concerns when read alongside the Black demand for freedom. What are the dynamics of this alongside? If the identification of racism and racial hurt depend not only on recognizable acts, but also on the presence of a pained Black body, then the identification of racism puts a strain on the Black interior — “that is black life and creativity behind the public face of stereotype and limited imagination.” Speaking on her experiences with White feminists, Doreen Hazel, a Black Dutch womanist theologian, expressed her anger at the expectation that “black women should constantly display the pain of racism.” The White demand for ‘proof’ is a demand for Black people to make their pain, their most intimate feelings, and thoughts available to Whiteness. More ‘proof’ speaks of a certain desire for Black people to make anti-Black racism ‘accessible’, so ‘unknowing’ Whites might ‘know what it’s like’. Blackness, then, becomes legible through trauma, taxonomies, facts, and statistics—Blackness constitutes a body of evidence. Thus, within this dynamic, “observation and taxonomies of facts and statistics take precedence over introspection, musing, and reflection.”

Egbert Alejandro Martina in Playing the Numbers Game (Processed Life)