A Black Perspective on the Language of Race in Dutch

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In Dutch, the standard language of the Netherlands and the Flemish region of Belgium, ras (tr. race) is not a word that one can just throw around without raising questions. Ras carries a very heavy ideological weight. As a result, claiming that the social processes by which people of color are stigmatized, marginalized, and delegitimized is raciaal (tr. racial) is often considered imprecise, at best, and a reproduction of racism itself, at worst (see Lo 2019). However, it seems crucial to underscore the importance of studying the social processes that shape racial categories and structures, and the specific position of blackness in relation to whiteness in various contexts. Indeed, a concept like antiblackness becomes deeply resonant, conceptually and experientially, because with its rhizomorphic characteristics (see Ibrahim 2014) blackness reminds Belgium and the Netherlands of their own exclusionary hardened self-image.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-274
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Linguistic Anthropology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • blackness
  • racialization
  • raciolinguistics
  • whiteness


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