‘Be careful with black Dutch people like Humberto Tan’

In the slipstream of the debacle all around The Voice of Holland Albert Verlinde claimed that Humberto Tan would have inappropriately approached quite a few women via WhatsApp. A storm of indignation ensued at Verlinde’s words. At the initiative of writer and policy entrepreneur Kiza Magendane and director en Footnotecolumnist Dave Ensberg-Kleijkers wrote the open letter below to Albert Verlinde by 28 black male professionals. In it they argue that Verlinde’s words have a destructive influence on the already distorted dominant image of the black man.

In the years that Humberto Tan the program RTL Late Night presented, he sent his guests an app afterwards in which he thanked them for their contribution. In a recent broadcast of Show news Tan’s act of courtesy took on a whole new twist. While discussing the debacle surrounding The Voice of Holland, where alleged abuse of power and transgressive sexual behavior took place, you suggested that Tan sent inappropriate text messages to female guests.

‘It’s in RTL also known that Humberto tended to contact women who were nice after the broadcast,” you stated. In their own words, you know people who left the program because they felt they were producing more of a dating show than a talk show.

You just have to dare – in the midst of a potential #MeToo scandal, declare a (black) colleague a bogeyman, instead of focusing on the suspects. Dozens of celebrities have meanwhile condemned your disgusting and defamatory statements and defended Tan. Do you realize that damaging someone’s good name and reputation on national television is a pure form of slander and libel? Those who assert must prove and then not present that evidence on national television, but hand it over to the authorities. In this case, there is no evidence of any kind, let alone that you have reported yourself to the police or judicial authorities. That begs the question of what your real motivations are.

‘We are appealing to Albert Verlinde and other media makers’

As an informal collective of black male professionals, we welcome the public support Tan has received from dozens of celebrities. We are also pleased that Tan has now filed a report for slander and defamation. We are happy to await the legal proceedings. But we especially hope that the Netherlands will become aware of the vulnerable position of Afro-Dutch people, and the black man in particular, in visible and influential positions.

In strategic positions in our society – journalism, science, politics – Afro-Dutch people, and black men in particular, can be counted on one hand. That doesn’t come out of the blue. In recent years it has become clearer to many Dutch people that anti-black racism is an inherent part of Dutch society. The dominant image that the black man in the Netherlands carries in the past and now is that of the bogeyman or of an irresponsible father. Black male role models such as Humberto Tan and Franc Weerwind, the new Minister for Legal Protection in the Rutte IV cabinet, are like white ravens in a jungle of anti-black racism, who manage to develop a thick skin and fight themselves.

We appeal to Albert Verlinde and other media makers: you should be more aware of this context, and be careful with the scarce black male role models in visible positions of influence. Despite our qualifications, most of the men in our network do not aspire to careers in visible social positions of influence. This, partly because of the negativity that comes with it. At the same time, the Netherlands needs more Tans and Weerwinds. Therefore, any attempt to dirty their name is an attack on our collective commitment to work towards an inclusive society. A society where all children, including young black youth, can dream of becoming the best presenter or administrator in the Netherlands. So that Humberto Tan and Franc Weerwind become the rule rather than the exception.

He who has ears should listen.


Signed by:

  • Emmanuel Agyekum – Sales Executive
  • Isaac Bullock – Marketing Lead
  • Ceryl Bané – Compliance officer
  • Mounir Serghini – Business Manager / Actor
  • Emmanuel Ohene Boafo – Actor
  • Boateng Gideon – Entrepreneur
  • Bright Aboagye – Sales Team Lead, Ondernemer
  • Referinio Plet- Youth worker
  • Jürgen Boerleider – Entrepreneur
  • Rein de Boer – Multisport Teacher
  • Serginho Stekkel – Intermediar/Entrepreneur
  • Paul Lackin – Tax Advisor / Business Administrator
  • Dave Ensberg-Kleijkers – Manager and Management Expert
  • Gary Bleeker – Account Manager
  • Michel Jansen – training coordinator
  • Randy Snoyl – Chief Operating Officer van The Power Unit
  • Gilbert Williams – Online Marketing Specialist
  • Moïse Duintjer- International trader
  • Dwight Gefferie – Marketing manager
  • John Linger – Cultural Entrepreneur
  • Henry O’Tawiah – Choreographer and theater maker
  • Les Adu – Fotograaf
  • Henk Aron – Managing Partner –  More than live and Third Place Rotterdam
  • Edward Pocorni – Register Controller
  • Henry O’Tawiah – Choreographer/theatre maker
  • Mitchell Esajas – Co-founder The Black Archives
  • Dady Kiyangi- Founder Yangambi & Africa Film Festival
  • Dwight Gefferie – Marketing manager
  • Raymond Comvalius – Independent IT specialist and trainer
  • Kiza Magendane – writer and policy entrepreneur

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