Black History Month: student initiatives you should know about
Black student-led initiatives in Groningen you should know about
October is Black History Month in the Netherlands, so City Central has put together a list of the impactful, influential and change-making student-led organisations and initiatives in Groningen for and by black people and people of color.
You can find out more about these organisations and the people behind them this month during City Central’s Black History Month takeover series. It starts today - Tuesday, 5 October - so be sure to follow along there, and go ahead and follow all the groups on Instagram!
ASC: African Students Community
The African Students Community’s name says it all: it’s by and for University of Groningen and Hanze University of Applied Sciences students from Africa and the African diaspora.
They regularly put on events focused on African culture, cuisine and heritage, as well as professional networking opportunites for members. In 2021, they organized two really great online events: the Africa through Storytelling symposium, and R.E.L.E.A.R.N. (Reform, Educate, Lead, Embrace, Act, Reflect, Normalize), a week-long programme on all forms of self-care as part of World BIPOC Mental Health Month.
And over on Instagram, they share great posts celebrating the independence days of every country in Africa along with each nation’s most beautiful natural landmarks, famous foods and demographics.
BLOG: Black Ladies of Groningen
What started as a WhatsApp group chat intended for any and all black women in Groningen has now become a community organization for women of African and Caribbean descent in the city to come together and share their experiences.
The group, which works on a membership basis and is in the process of applying for official status as a student organisation, was one of the main organisers behind a massive Black Lives Matter sit-in on the Grote Markt in the summer of 2020. BLOG’s board members are frequent guests on panel discussions about race and inclusion, in addition to hosting their own conversations, like their panel discussion on bi-cultural identity during the Groningen Anti-Racism, highlighting the challenges and, more important, the benefits of having roots in two different cultures.
Mwee van der Meer, BLOG’s outgoing vice president in 2021, was part of City Central’s panel discussion on implicit Dutch networking culture in September. They also regularly host fun activities, like games nights and dance parties, and they have a monthly show on Relate Radio: BLOG On Air.
Unlike the other organisations in this list, Decolonize Groningen is a mix of both students and non-students, but similar to SCDAI (mentioned later in this list), their primary purpose is advocating for social justice.
What does decolonization mean? In a literal sense, it was the end of territorial domination of lands primarily in the global south by European powers, but groups like Decolonize Groningen make the point that the end of colonialism did not mean the end of the colonial mindset and ambitions. Colonialism is not just the active occupation and claiming of foreign nations as part of an empire, but a legacy of power dynamics that impact every aspect of society: race, gender, sexuality, class, religion, ethnicity, linguistics and environmental conservation.
The group focuses their efforts on several sub-projects that fit within the broader theme of decolonization: increasing awareness of the colonial history of the Netherlands (and Groningen in particular), advocating for decolonizing the university curriculum, Kick Out Zwarte Piet, the Boycott Divest Sanctions movement, and Shell Must Fall.
IDEA: Initiative for Diversity, Empowerment and Awareness
Founded in 2019, the Initiative for Diversity, Empowerment and Awareness is a platform for students which is focused on addressing systemic societal issues and inequalities, and which strives to center non-Western ideas.
IDEA’s next upcoming event is Fortress Europe, an online lecture and workshop about the harm caused to refugees by Europe’s rigid immigration policy, and will take place on 28 October at 19:00. Some of their past activities include workshops on intersectionality, identity, climate racism, and American police brutality.
SCDAI: Student Center for Diversity, Advocacy and Inclusion
SCDAI was founded by students of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, and the group’s focus is advocating for inclusion of underrepresented students - with disabilities, female-identifying, students of colour, all religious identities, students from lower socio-economic classes, and older students, among others - in higher education.
Their biggest campaign thus far has been The Study Period, which called upon the Dutch government to end “period poverty” in the Netherlands by making sanitary products available for free at universities.
Members of SCDAI regularly collaborate with other Groningen activism organisations and study associations, such as an online conversation on allyship during the Groningen Anti-Racism week in 2021. They also have a regular podcast series: SCDAI Talks.
Waves of Color is by and for female-identifying people of colour living in the Netherlands and was co-founded by Thandeka Kramer-Wolf and Theila Smith.
The group strives for recognition of the beauty in diversity, as well as making clear what the difference is between inclusion and integration. Waves advocates for both: inclusion ensures equal access for all to health, education, income, housing and social relationships, and integration means a two way street of cultural exchange and learning from one another.
Among other events in recent years, members of Waves of Color led workshops during ASC’s R.E.L.E.A.R.N. week over the summer, took part in Groningen’s first Activism Intro Fair in the Noorderplantsoen in September, and moderated the recent Invisible Networks panel discussion by City Central.
Bonus: Want to support black-owned businesses in Groningen? Check out these establishments around town – and let us know about any others that should be added!
African Flavors (Oliemuldersweg)
Africarib (Nieuwe Ebbingstraat)
Bobby's Hairfashion (Korreweg)
Individual Barbershop (Nieuwe Ebbingestraat)
Pit Tattoo (by appointment)
Red Sea Store (Steentilstraat)
Senay Afrikaans Winkel (Gedepempte Zuiderdiep)
Thomas Sykes Hair Studio (Gedempte Zuiderdiep)