Yesterday I watched Boiler room and The crooked E on TV. It was a reminder of our financial crisis and how it all began. Greedy stockbrokers selling stocks that were filled with hot air. Psychopathic directors pushing their stockbrokers to sell hard. Guzzling people who yearned for the quick and bright failed to ask the appropriate questions. The prices climbed, profits soared, then as the plot progressed cracks appeared, the directors sold out. The balloon burst.
Last week I received a telephone call from the discriminatiezaken.nl (anti discrimination organization in the Netherlands) about a report I had made a month earlier. It was about you Sofia Kapnissi, I felt you had been treated unfairly. Before we met we had been equals. It is now 11 years that we run parallel with our creative ideas and energy, we are equal individuals.
‘Yes you reported a case about discrimination’
‘Yes’, I explain, that we (Sofia Kapnissi and myself) both applied for a membership at Stroom the centre for arts in the Hague. ‘The odd thing is, you see’, I continued, ‘that for the last 11 years we work together, so you see our artists résumé are practically the same, but I am a he, she is a she and she comes from Greece. To come to the point Stroom has told her (through a letter) that she is no longer a professional artists and have barred her membership.’
‘You wrote in your report that this is because of her gender or that see is Greek? Do you have that in black and white from the organization?
‘No, of course not!’
‘So you have a suspicion about this discrimination?’ the voice on the other side of the line continued in a slightly patronising voice. A patronizing voice not trying to offend me, but rather to deflect and steer the situation into a soft socially acceptable dead end. My heart sank, and I could feel the director and employees of Stroom ridicule my attempt for justice..
‘You should’, she continued, ‘get in contact with the organisation, and get a clarification.’
Discrimination is rife all over the world. I see it every day, in my street, at work. I have been both the one standing out in the crowd and I have been standing in the crowd. There are times when I wish I would do, but mostly I don’t. But up till now I felt secure in Holland, we are known as the tolerant nation. We have poster campaigns that invite you to report awkward moments of discrimination. TV advert spots: ”Feel that you are being discriminated? Call our free number’. Professional people fighting discrimination are telling us that we are equals.
But the last sentence of the phone conversation rings in my ear.
”You should get in contact with the organisation, and get a clarification.’
The clarification is that people gathered in any fairly well organized organization can discriminate and use the anti-discrimination office like a convenient snuffbox.
Sofia Kapnissi the organizations that our parents and grandparents have built to help us have Equal Rights in art and culture have been filled with greed and are corrupting. Please keep questioning please keep writing.
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