This week cultural centre de Balie in Amsterdam will be hosting an event titled ‘LovingDay.nl: (In)visibly Mixed’ on “mixed race” families and relationships (BTW, the Netherlands uncritically accepts this terminology, along with the assumption that certain people are “pure” and others are “mixed”, thereby reifying 19th century race theories).Loving Day takes the end of anti-miscegenation laws in America in 1967 as its starting point to celebrate the growing number of mixed couples and children in the Netherlands. Mixed children are a growing phenomenon in the Netherlands (up from 30% to 37% from 2007 in Amsterdam) but oddly, the program claims, this growth is not visible in Dutch policy or imaging of the Dutch identity.
Being designated as “mixed race” ourselves, we don’t deny that there’s a lot to talk about, but we were mildly surprised to see that this program completely ignores the historical and socio-economical context of mixed race identities within Dutch colonial history. We say mildly, because it wouldn’t be the first time the Dutch conveniently forgot about their colonial adventures. There were clear strategies to instill and secure Dutch “purity” and a cultural sense of belonging in both South Africa and Indonesia. But of course, there were those “Others” that produced in both former colonies. Indos (people of mixed Indonesian European descent) have existed within the former Dutch-East Indies (and thus the Netherlands) for over 300 years, and the same can be said about the Coloured community in South Africa. Let’s not forget that there were and has been strong Dutch policy surrounding and creating these “mixed” identities beginning with the colonial period and existing well into the present.