Terrance Pieters is the first colored hockey player in the Dutch team and breaks the silence about racism in his sport. On Tuesday, he also tells his teammates in the Wagener stadium about the painful words and jokes.
It remains silent for a moment whether the protests against racism affect him. International hockey player Terrance Pieters (23) is reluctant to respond, saying that it feels like talking about how he was faced with racism and discrimination. “I always pushed it away and even denied racism to avoid the discussion. Now it’s time to finally speak.”
The son of a Surinamese mother and an Indian father speaks for the first time about a topic that he had parked deep in his subconscious. As the first dark hockey player of the Dutch team, Pieters (23) did not want to pose any additional obstacles. The fifteen-time international now feels supported by the widespread anger after the murder of the black American George Floyd. Pieters sees famous footballers like Memphis Depay and Denzel Dumfries getting up because they no longer accept racism. They give him the final push to break a taboo.
The international matches at the Wagener Stadium are in a circle on Tuesday when national coach Max Caldas names the protests against racism and Pieters speaks out. The Kampong attacker breaks the silence against the international players. To really get to know Terrance Pieters, you also need to know how deep his pain is. And that he has worn a yoke since childhood that should no longer be invisible. “I told the boys that I also experienced racism in hockey, even in such a group form. And she explained to me what it does to me and why I kept it to myself for so long. “
As a child, did you find that people looked at you differently because of your skin color?
Pieters: “Racism is difficult to understand if you have never experienced it yourself. I will never forget the first time. I was in the school yard, I was in the 5th or 6th grade. To get my bike, I had to put the girl’s bike away. I lifted the bike aside when she said: Black boys shouldn’t touch my bike.
“My hometown Almere is multicultural and diverse. In elementary school, however, I was regularly referred to as “monkey” or “Zwarte Piet”. And then it doesn’t help that my last name is Pieters. These overt racist statements are bad enough. But the disguised, more implicit racism is just as painful.
“When I was still living with my parents, I went home with my scooter after training and playing in Almere. How many times have agents stopped or searched me? They went to check that the scooter was not stolen. Or maybe I had things in my hockey bag that I picked up? I was suspicious with my hockey stick on a scooter. “
I don’t think Billy Bakker, the white captain of the Dutch ice hockey team, was often arrested on his scooter.
“I don’t want to call it that. But it happened to several dark boys in my area. Of course, a cop never says,” I’ll arrest you because your skin is different. Nevertheless, you always have the feeling that this is the only reason. This agent also asked me: What are you doing with a hockey stick? I said regularly: Come to the fields of Almere on Sunday, then you can see me playing hockey.
“We wanted to go to a club with the Almere team, and three boys from different ethnic groups didn’t join. The reason was that only regular customers were welcome. This doorman didn’t mention that I was rejected because of my skin color. Coincidentally, only the three visitors who did not look like a white Dutchman were allowed in.
Will you step on your soul every time?
“The worst thing is that you learn to deal with it. I mainly do that with words or jokes that shouldn’t hurt me. However, I particularly notice how ignorant this person is and that they do not recognize the weight of their words.
On Hockey.nl , Hockey coach Siegfried Aikman (Surinamese descent, ed.) Told of the so-called jokes that dark boys are tall. I still hear these comments. I sometimes agree with this prejudice, it is also a typical sports humor. I had more problems joking with teammates that I got a yellow card because I’m black. You are hurt. “
They are a rarity in a white sport.
“I want to be a role model, that’s not the point. It shouldn’t be anything special that I play hockey because I’m dark. I also experience racism in hockey. Even in the big league, opponents sometimes call” Cover the Black ” or “Stop That Black”.
Hockey is called diverse, but that doesn’t mean that there is no racism. In my childhood I played with Almere in Gooische and injured a man’s son with a red scarf. I have never forgotten him. He shouted very loudly: Share, the black comes in too wildly. Then say: The boy comes in too hard. Why create ethnic ethnic profiles now?
“As a player from Almere, I was constantly called” Mowgli “every time I got the ball during a game. I didn’t dare say anything about it. I was so scared that I stiffened. I could do hockey too mostly about hidden variants of racism. I came to a club, people said, oh, you don’t see that often. Or when I said I was a hockey player: you? do you play hockey? I thought: why not? Someone showed on a soccer field and said, “You have to be there.”
Do you hear these hurtful words with the Dutch team?
Pieters, after a short consideration: “Yes. I definitely don’t want to get these guys out of the way as racists. Sometimes I heard players talk to each other and those words passed by. Then I was shocked, but I didn’t correct it. In my opinion Negro is the most derogatory word to say. This is how black slaves were called by white slave traders. “
Did you hide racism for a long time?
“When asked in interviews whether I had racism, I answered negatively. Did I refuse? I didn’t want to be considered pathetic. I felt uncomfortable and often thought it was a question between my nose and lips.
“It was kind of embarrassing to me, especially when I shared something with someone who didn’t know anything. And who looked at me at a glance: is that racist? Then I would swallow it again. “
Did you get advice from your parents?
“If I had been scolded again for monkeys, blacks or Zwarte Piet, I would have asked my mother: Mom, what makes me different? To protect me, she replied: Don’t pay attention to these people. You are as beautiful as you are. But she also told me to behave humbly and politely. Indirectly, prejudices only grew stronger. “
Wasn’t that the best evidence of institutional racism? You had to adapt, not society.
“Nice to see you. The downside of this attitude is that it creates an inferiority complex. So I’m less about my skin color. I am treated like this because I am different. Whenever I get anywhere, I am aware of the first impression. How I get dressed?
“I was very polite when I was arrested by the police and cooked with anger because I knew why. But I didn’t want to confirm their prejudices. Inevitably I avoided the stereotypes, it adapted to be accepted. “
Pieters has studied his past thoroughly. “It helps me to find my identity.” He cautiously mentioned the lack of attention to racism in education. “I hardly learned anything about slavery. It starts with training to show not only the golden age, but also the dark side of Dutch history. ”
Through his father he discovered the imperialist past of the Netherlands as a colonialist. “If I hadn’t heard of it, my grandmother would have been trapped in a Dutch camp in the former Dutch East Indies. My great-grandfather died fighting for freedom against the Netherlands.
“At an exhibition in the Tropical Museum in 1863, with tears in my eyes, I saw my mother’s last name among freed slaves. Landbrug was one of 150 names, my mother’s family tree ended in a slave plantation. I carry this story with me. The traces remain visible in today’s society. ”
With his cousin Marlon Landbrug, the attacker of Pinoké and the son of his mother’s half-sister, Pieters played some duels with the Dutch team. He shows two photos on his cell phone. Marlon and Terrance as teenagers in Almere-Pinoké against each other. And ten years later with the numbers 20 and 38 in an orange jersey in the Pro League against New Zealand. “We always played in different clubs. Now two boys with a dream reached the Dutch team after a long journey. Our mothers’ pride was priceless. “
In the Tropenmuseum did you also see where Zwarte Piet came from?
“Sinterklaas was also celebrated at our home because my mother didn’t want to remember this party. However, the misery started in November. I walked down the street and heard a boy say to his mother: Look, there is Zwarte Piet.
“As a player from Almere, I was just leaving the field when Sinterklaas visited the club. And there came the comments again: Hey Terrance, you no longer have to paint your face. I was particularly shocked by the violent reactions on Facebook, including by hockey parents, to the abolition of Zwarte Piet. Stay away from our tradition. Or worse, piss off in your own country. I was born in Amsterdam. Where should I go? “
Pieters quotes a poem by rapper and poet Akwasi from his collection Let’s not talk about it anymore . “When November comes and December gets slow, I’m blind in December.” It also shows my feeling. I too went blind when Sinterklaas approached.
“I dare say that with more knowledge of the story you will understand why Zwarte Piet really can’t do it anymore. He is a cartoon, Zwarte Piet is even disguised as a dark slave. “
Now you no longer accept racism.
Pieters: “I now dare to confront myself. During the training in Kampong I heard the word Negro pass by. I immediately said: Do you want to stop using this word? The person apologized after the training and called me later that evening. He hadn’t noticed how it happened to me. “I’m glad you corrected me.” It made me proud.
“For me it was the confirmation that I should no longer be silent. And maybe the current anti-racism movement enables dark people to stop laughing at hurtful jokes. I always looked at the floor and pretended I hadn’t heard anything.
“It is now done, I told the national team as well. It is not about convincing them or making everyone an activist. I want to raise awareness. They showed a lot of understanding, again it turned out that the Orange is a team It is a liberation for me, I think we will overcome a barrier. “
Robèrt Misset June 16, 2020 , 5:34 PM