photo: Marit Severijnse

KRALENDIJK- The global wave of protests against racism and injustice has found its way to Bonaire. On Wednesday more than seventy individuals gathered at the Parke Wilhelmina to show their support in the fight against racism.

Guerlian Gougon, a representative of the Black Lives Matter movement, organized this protest. “We think that nothing will change and that’s why we don’t protest. We have to change this mentality.”

A report by Marit Severijnse and Nathaly Evertsz-Ipcedencia

According to Gougon, his fight is not only one to change the mentality but also to eliminate the fear which Bonarians face on a daily basis. Fear of authority, employers, and institutions are some of the examples given.

“We have to deal with injustices on a daily basis. Fear silences individuals. And nothing changes.” Gougon emphasizes that the movement is here to help anyone who is oppressed. “I am against the Dutch oppression of me, a man of color”, he says.

Discrimination cases on Bonaire have increased
A remarkable fact is that different individuals mentioned that the cases of discrimination on Bonaire have increased during the past few years. “Here on Bonaire we’d never experienced this before. During the last couple of years the number of incidents has gone up unfortunately.”

“Maybe it’s the price that has to be paid for progress, or maybe it’s because the island has surpassed twenty thousand inhabitants”, says protester Robbie Beukenboom. “I believe that it would be good if the Netherlands realizes and one day apologizes for a very dark page in the colonial history books. This would be slavery”, Beukenboom adds.

 ‘Bonarians feel threatened and like a minority’
Riet Sealy, a Dutch woman who has been living on Bonaire for more than 30 years also supports the cause. “The strength of Bonaire used to be that all people could live together and share everything. Nowadays Bonarians feel threatened and in the minority. This shouldn’t be the case. If a Bonarian is proud of his culture and his language, he can never feel threatened”, Sealy says.

During the protest different individuals gave speeches. Nina den Heyer, the councilwoman tasked with Social Affairs and Labor, emphasized that the fight against racism and injustice is everyone’s responsibility. “A child is not born racist. Every single one of us has to think about how we educate our children. We set the example for our kids”, Nina den Heyer said as a closing statement.

Petition to remove plaque commemorating Van Walbeeck
The next step the Black Lives Matter movement plans on taking, is to formally register themselves as a group. After that they wish to petition the government to remove the Johan van Walbeeck plaque at the Parke Wilhelmina.