A quick introduction on celebrating Days of Freedom and why it matters to Lindy Hoppers.
Image: Protest sign from the Black Lives Matter protest in Rotterdam (June 3rd 2020, Rotterdam): “COLONIAL HISTORY / IS DUTCH HISTORY / EDUCATE THE PEOPLE!”, from the collection of Museum Rotterdam.
What is Juneteenth?
In short, on June 19th the USA commemorates the end of slavery after the Civil War. You can find a good overview on Juneteenth here: Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture
Why should that matter to Lindy Hoppers?
Lindy Hop, jazz and swing are rooted in Black American culture and its history which is tied to slavery. It is of importance to learn where the dance you are doing today comes from. How you relate to this today is as important.
As American writer and activist James Baldwin puts it: “History, as nearly no one seems to know, is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, and our aspirations.”
What does that mean for the Netherlands?
The Netherlands has a 400 year history of colonising parts of the entire world. The Dutch were involved in Atlantic slave trade and were present in North America since the early 17th century.
Harlem comes from Haarlem, Brooklyn comes from Breukelen, New York City was founded as Nieuw Amsterdam by Dutch settlers, as you can read in this BBC piece here.
The Netherlands commemorates the abolishment of slavery in Surinam and the Dutch Antilles on July 1st. This day of freedom is called Keti Koti in Sranan Tongo and means ‘broken chains’. Slavery has been resisted from its beginnings in many ways, emancipation is a struggle of many people, more than a 'just decision' of a government. The Dutch were one of the last nations to abolish slavery, 2023 will mark its 150th year. And yet enslaved people had to work 10 years more on the plantations in Surinam, hence the year of 1873 may mark the real end. Dutch plantation owners were financially compensated for their 'loss'. They still needed labour replacement to keep the plantations going. Soon afterwards contract workers were recruited from India and Indonesia, conditions were still harsh, rights of workers were almost non-existent and pay was low.
Thoughts on Keti Koti by Chuka Nwanzia (English) and Marvin Hokstam (in Dutch).
Check out events for Keti Koti in Rotterdam.
Our small, but growing library has several books on the subject of slavery, colonialism, fiction and non-fiction. Check out about the library here.
A great start is one of the latest additions:
Bandcamp is an American online music platform where you can find and purchase lots of music of contemporary swing bands. It is one of the best platforms for artists to sell their music. June 19 is a good day to buy some music on Bandcamp.
On Monday, June 19th, from midnight to midnight Pacific Time, we’ll hold their 4th annual Juneteenth fundraiser, where they donate 100% of their share of sales to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, a racial justice organization with a long history of effectively enacting change through litigation, advocacy, and public education.