Dutch primary school history textbooks published since 1980, and including those published since the release of the New Dutch History Canon, feature a Eurocentric master narrative reflective of racial neoliberalism and contributing to The Netherlands’ social forgetting of slavery and scientific colonialism. (….) Given the long-documented role of education in shaping children’s racialized conceptions of their nation, realities, and identities, these textbooks reveal the racial neoliberal foundation that young adults in The Netherlands today encountered and that with which the current generation of Dutch children will be embedded. Socially constructing enslaved Africans as strong, violent, and lacking humanity, these books essentialize and racialize both the enslaved and their descendants and likely contribute to the aversive racism demonstrated by 30–50% of the Dutch population. Furthermore, they racialize White Dutch as largely uninvolved with the dehumanization and exploitation of Africans but as good traders, or business-men, on a global scale who now commemorate the freeing of the enslaved (but not the compensation of master enslavers). White Dutch, according to these books, are not impacted by the racialized ideologies developed during hundreds of years of enslavement and so cannot be racist, even in the case of Zwarte Piet. Depriving students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds of accurate knowledge about racism, racial oppression, or contemporary consequences of slavery these textbooks will have real consequences throughout Dutch society. Without changing curricular representations, students will continue to disregard the history and consequences of historical enslavement, and these groups’ intertwined histories, on contemporary racial identities and inequalities. The perpetuation of stereotypical images of Afro-Dutch enslaved descendants as well as recent African immigrants likely contributes to Black social marginalization and discrimination that, though extensive, is frequently denied.
Melissa F. Weiner in (E)racing slavery (academia.eu)