Situation for POC in Europe vs USA

My whole family relocated to the Netherlands.  That is my wife and my 2 kids.  It all happened super quickly because of a good work opportunity.  I asked a friend about a job in Amsterdam end of November, and by mid-December, I had met with 7 of the decision makers and got the job.  Congratulations they told me, we need you in the office asap.  So here I was. moving everybody within about 2 weeks. And 2 weeks extra the house in the US is sold (still pending) and we put an offer on a house here (still pending as well).  Like Jay Z would maybe say, “I’ve got 99 problems, but moving country ain’t one”.  So for my wife and I, the technical part of moving was never a challenge. It is painful, but we know we can do it.

The open question was “what is the best environment for our kids?”  Not in the traditional way people may think.  It is about the racial environment that our kids will be exposed to.  We have a 1-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy. They are mixed race.  The essential question we have was simple.  What country is best for them. And there were 2 views:

  • My view: The US is advancing the racial conversation quickly and could be far ahead of Europe in a few years.
  • My wife’s view:  Black people get shot a lot in the US.

Let me explain my view.  When I look where the US was just 54 years ago before the civil right movement, I am amazed that Obama became President.  The US still has a long way to go, don’t get me wrong.  However, I have to recognize the achievement.  My belief is that the US progressed thanks to (forced) conversations and the support of (reasonable) majority in power.

Now let me contrast the US with Europe. More specifically France. The country I was born in. In France, on the pretense of everybody being French, there are no statistics collected on race. We can not know how many Blacks are unemployed, or the wealth difference between whites and non-whites.  In other words, there are no ways to prove that there are inequalities.

On the flip side, my wife is right.  Black people get shot a lot in the US.  That is a fact.  and that fact means that any racial progress is often offset by the amount of police shooting Blacks.  In some ways, I would probably prefer to live in a country that never had a Black president but that is also not shooting Black people.  Check.  However, when I think hard about this, I do have the feeling that there is potentially a high price to pay to reach racial/gender equality.  And that high price may be people risking their lives for the greater good, to make progress and to live in a world where their great grandchildren will only know about inequalities from reading history books.

Hard decision. All for achieving nirvana. But I am not ok to achieving nirvana risking the life of my children. That’s hypocrisy. Or is it? Do my children have a better chance to have a positive impact on the world by being alive and not fearing for their lives.  Plus they were born in the US. They will always have this connection. Is it something I am telling myself to feel better or is it really what I believe in.  I would probably have to reflect on it in a few months and post a follow up to this blog post.  In the meantime, some more racial awareness is needed in Holland. Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) is a surreal thing to me.  Even in the US, people almost understand that you should not paint your face black when you are white. This is just not ok.

So, unfortunately, there is much material to fuel the fire of this blog in Europe as well.  My hope is that this new chapter in my life will provide a new perspective.