Adherence to particular traditions, symbols, rituals, traits, and attitudes are fundamental in the forming and nourishing of cultural identities. Cultural identities have a profound influence on the manner in which the national identity of a given country is given quintessence and articulated to all concerned. Stuart Hall defines ‘cultural identity’ in terms of one shared culture, a sort of collective ‘one true self’, hiding inside the many other, more superficial or artificially imposed ‘selves’, which people with a shared history and ancestry hold in common’. It stands to reason that invented traditions are closely knitted into the fabrics of the cultural identity as well as the national identity.
In reference to the Dutch national identity, their history and indifference to their slavery past and choosing to forget and not to remember I choose a quote from Willem Frijhoff, a prominent Dutch social scientist. He has this to say regarding the Dutch society. “Dutch society thinks of its identity; namely much more as a culturally defined community than as a politically formed nation state. Yet the nation state is very prominent in the Netherlands, and the cultural nation of the Dutch community, maintain strong borders between insiders and outsiders, as it coexists with the nation state”. In terms of memory and forgetting the Dutch society sees slavery as something that happened years ago outside of the Netherlands. However, those to whom it happened to are now in their midst. The Dutch have chosen to forget. Some in the Afro-Dutch communities might also choose to forget but they cannot. Their everyday experience in the Netherlands with or without the images of Black Peter is to a certain extent determined by the memory of chattel slavery and the heritage it generated. That is also the case in terms of their children. Others of the African Diaspora who haven’t indirectly experienced chattel slavery in the West are not sheltered either from this devil’s dilemma. The memory is strongly connected to the systemic notions of Whiteness and Blackness and the attached privileges for some and uncertainties for others. Structural everyday racism does not discriminate between persons from Ghana and those from Surinam.