Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dutch television host criticised for impersonating a black woman

Is it blackface or not, that is the question. Dutch television host Wendy van Dijk transformed herself into a stereotype black Antillean woman to fool Dutch Celebs. She called her Lucretia Martine, the weather woman from Curaçao. It was a transformation like Eddy Murphy did in the Nutty Professor. But there is one big difference, Wendy van Dijk is a white woman.

The television show is a big hit in Holland, already 2 million viewers watched the first show. But not everyone is happy with Van Dijk's creation. Surinam Actress and Singer Lucretia van der Vloot and and Author Clarck called it ridiculous.

Within the Surinamese and Antillean community there is criticism that Van Dijk stereotyped Antillean women: thick lips, fat ass, lazy, and always talking about sex.

But the criticism of Van der Vloot and Accord is not about the fact that she impersonated a black woman, but that she played an Antillean woman, but talked as Surinam woman. Which is the same as playing an American woman, but talking like a Jamaican. Writer Accord feels that Van Dijk should have known better, because she went to a black urban school in Amsterdam Bijlmer.

Wendy van Dijk’s act also sparked criticism on the media in general. At this moment Van Dijk’s Antillean woman is the only 'black' woman on Dutch television. Black people aren't underrepresented they have become totally absent on Dutch television.

Van Dijk says she doesn't understand the criticism: "I am only trying to play a funny, independent and well spoken woman."

The marketing agency of the Dutch Antillean island Curacao is happy with Van Dijk’s Curaçao woman act. They have offered her a contract to promote the Island.

Van Dijk also played a Japanese woman called Ushi, Lucreatia Martina, the weather woman from Curaçao, is her latest creation.

Update: see the interesting discussion on Shadowandact about blackface and and the Dutch Antillean character here


  1. First, thanks for posting this topic.

    I've been thinking about this Dushi issue for a while and it puzzled me why it seemed so difficult to explain its offensive nature.

    The arguments so far, do not seem to get to the core of this issue.
    Surely, it is hard to make a blunt case for racism. However, the Dushi character plays with a stereotype that can be seen as negative. The negativity lies in the absence of a counter type or types in the media that speak about the image of the black woman in the Netherlands.

    As mentioned another point is the use of Suriname syntax to create a Antillean character. The joke seems to be the different way that an older generation of Suriname people speak (spoke) Dutch. This joke is not funny anymore as the new generation is socialized in the Netherlands and have indistinguishable speak. An old joke (also used for effect with Zwarte Piet) is thus rehatched to ridicule the Antilleans who are very marginalized and are getting alot of slack in the news these days.

    Playing on so called 'cultural difference' there is a 'repectfull' stereotyped portrayal of the general view of what black women are like. through the use of language there is a conflation of the Suriname and Antillean thus rubbing out the cultural difference between the two groups.

    So is this racist or just ignorance coming out of a lack of sensitivity for the construction of the image of black women in the Netherlands?
    It is at least offensive because of its implications and the denial of cultural difference other then the one between native and post-colonial.

    I am curious to hear what others have to say about this and if we can come to a conclusion on the nature of this act in a Dutch context.

  2. Thanks for your comment. You’re right. I have heard some of the jokes, and some of them I found very questionable. In an interview with a Dutch singer and his wife, she (the black character) said that she couldn’t believe that it was his ‘only’ wife. So, she is also stereotyping Antillean men.

    But Look at our “own” Surinam Jurgen Rayman. Every week he is impersonating an Moroccan man in his television show Raymann is “late”. In a comedy sketch plays a character with a big moustache, dressed up in Arabic traditional clothes, who speaks broken Dutch with a Moroccan accent. He can get away with it because he is Surinam. But is it racist? If he was White he would have had a serious problem.

    So yes, I find both acts offensive, but I don’t think you could compare it with an American black minstrel show. And yes, I also believe it’s lack of sensitivity, but somehow that’s the key element of Dutch comedy nowadays.

    About the language issue. My family is split in an Antillean and a Surinam side, and they are always arguing about who has more class, or which community is more criminal. But this is a family affair. I don’t think that Van Dijk has that deep cultural understanding to rub out the cultural difference between the two groups. To be honest, I was a little bit surprised that the language argument was used.

    I agree with you that this show is offensive to black woman. But it’s sad to see that there is no black organisation in the black Dutch community that speaks up in these cases. Maybe this is the price of being seen as “integrated”.

  3. The Dutch are just plan ignorant...let's look at zwate piet

  4. their culture is but a hop, skip and jump away from the 3rd reich


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...