Sylvana Simons got her start as a soul music VJ on the Dutch version of MTV. She went on to anchor the evening news in the Netherlands, and performed on the local version of Dancing with the Stars.
Simons, 45, is black and was born in the former Dutch colony of Suriname, in South America. Her family moved to the Netherlands when she was just one. She's spoken out against the Dutch Christmas tradition of Black Pete, in which Santa's helper is often played by a white person in blackface.Black Pete
The Netherlands have even ignored calls from the UN to abandon its racist blackface tradition
That prompted someone to make a satirical music video about her, in which dancers in blackface sing, "Oh Sylvana, why don't you pack your bags and leave this country."
So Simons went into politics.
"I have made this conscious decision to enter politics because I feel we are not just fighting racist people one by one," Simons says. "What we need is a change of the system. We live in a system that has been designed hundreds of years ago, not to serve everybody, but to serve the dominant white race."
Simons is running for parliament in the Dutch elections this March. At first, she announced her candidacy with a new Dutch political party called Denk, or "think." It's one of the first parties in Europe founded by recent immigrants to represent their interests.
Denk's candidates include a Muslim woman who wears a headscarf, people of Turkish and Moroccan descent, and black people like Simons. All of them say they've felt left out of Dutch politics, especially now that the far-right, anti-Muslim leader Geert Wilders is surging in the polls.
"People of color are not recognized as proper Dutch, and there is where the anger is, from people who are seen as second-class citizens, while they were born here," says Sandew Hira, an economist and historian who leads the International Institute for Scientific Research, which studies colonialism and is based in The Hague.
Denk, founded two years ago by two Dutch-Turkish members of parliament, says it wants to establish a national racism register to track hate speech, build a slavery museum in the Netherlands, and ban portrayals of Black Pete.
But the new party has already had some internal disputes.
Over the Christmas holiday, Simons announced a surprise split from Denk, to start her own party. She told the Dutch media she wants to widen her political platform to fight for gay rights and fair hiring practices, and that Denk's other members weren't receptive.
About a million of Holland's 17 million citizens are immigrants or their children or grandchildren — a potentially powerful group at the polls.
With The Far-Right Rising, Dutch Create Their Own Parties For Immigrants Watch
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Last edited by FriendlyPenguin; 11-01-2017 at 00:50.
- 11-01-2017 00:45
- 11-01-2017 01:47
Multiculturalism. The worst idea ever.
- 11-01-2017 10:34
The common alt-right thing against mass immigration is that immigrants are going to have a tangible impact on a society's culture and politics, right?
So why would you try and combat that by doing exactly the thing they think you're doing?