Hester Dibbits discuss the different types of clothes youth Dutchmen wear in the chapter, Moroccan Dutch Boys and the Authentication of Clothing Styles. A combination of data from previous studies, information gathered from Internet chatrooms, and excerpts from conversations with the boys themselves guide the discussion. Mainly, there seems to be competition between those who wear baggy street clothes and tight fitting Italian designer clothes. The baggy streetwear comes with an image related to rappers such as Ali B, “guys of the guys”, and a “black style” (Dibbits 28, 32). Meanwhile, the Italian clothes are associated with homosexuality, social and economic prestige, and lack of masculinity (Dibbits 22). The youth use their clothes to “authenticate” their different subcultures, Moroccan-Dutch, Antillean, Afro-Surinamese, Turkish-Dutch, and etc. Through the research conducted Dibbits concluded that the Moroccan-Dutch boys who wear Italian clothes are seen to be more “authentic” and most clothing choices are made in relations to their physicality and vernacular (Dibitts 33).
Herman Roodenburh discuss the disappearing culture of wearing traditional klederdracht on the Island of Marken in the chapter, Their Own Heritage: Women Wearing Traditional Costumes in the Village of Marken. Those who lived on the small island of Marken north of Amsterdam took pride in their tradition and daily habits of wearing their dracht (Roodenburh 246). After going to primary school, boys went off to fish with their fathers and uncles and the girls would continue to learn how to make clothes, a skill that their mothers taught them from a very young age (Roodenburah 250). Many of the garments worn were family heirlooms and held sentimental quality and generations worth of memories, not only from wearing them but from making them too, which was a family activity (Roodenburah 250). Much blame in placed on the dyke installed in 1957 that connected the island of Marken to mainland Amsterdam for the disappearing culture of the Island (Roodenburah246). Each woman since the 1900’s has had to make the decision for herself to continue to wear the dracht or to change to burger. Although the dracht created separation from the modernizing world, it also held generations worth of traditions, and unfortunately a unique way of life which has become to be seen only as colorful costumes.
Emily Raboteau’s essay, Who is Zwarte Piet?, uses her personally experiences from living in Amsterdam to describe the unwillingness of the Dutch to acknowledge to racism apart of their traditions. “Zwarte Piet is Sinterklaa’s [the Dutch version of Santa Claus] shadow, his servant, his slave” (Raboteau 144). The Sinterklaas parade features hundreds of people in blackface dressed as Zwarte Piet crowded onto boats who toss treats to the children who line the streets cheering with joy (Raboteau 149). Raboteau discloses several discussions she had with her friends and neighbors in Amsterdam who refuse to accept that the celebration, and the character himself is racist. “Ninety-two percent of Dutch citizens don’t associate Zwarte Piete with slavery and 91 percent oppose any effort whatsoever to change the way he looks” (Raboteau 153). Raboteau claimed that the Dutch may not feel as close as an association with the role they played in the slave trade because they never came face to face with the horrors of it as slavery was always illegal on Dutch soil (Raboteau 148). However, regardless of how the Dutch feel it is very clear that these traditions are effecting how children perceive people of color, thinking only of them as Zwarte Piet (Raboteau 154).
Arnold Karksken’s photographic essay One Way to Live presents intimate mini-biographies of prostitutes who work behind the Central Station in Amsterdam. The combination of story and photos show how much these women struggle. All of them are addicted to hard drugs, and spends hundreds of guilders a day to feed their addictions (Karksken 77). AIDS has become a real problem and the women seem to operate either oblivious to it, or go to great lengths to avoid contracting the deadly disease (Karksken 76, 79). Many of the women have been in very dangerous situations due to their line of work, but feel they have no other options because they are wanted by authorities in other countries (Karksken 75, 76). These women live in their own subculture, there is a sense of community, but only when it is selfishly beneficial (Karksken 79).
These articles present four different subcultures, all brought about by disadvantageous situations. The Dutch boys in Dibbits chapter feel the need to differentiate themselves from other people who are dark skinned, the 20 women on the Island of Marken are the only reminder of a way of live that once filled an entire island, the native Dutch people use tradition as an excuse to carry out extremely racist celebrations and hide from their role in the slave trade, and the women in the photographic essay are fighting to distinguish themselves from one another in order to make more money to buy more drugs. Identity is important in all of these writings but it is not always a good thing.
Hester Dibbits, Moroccan Dutch Boys and the Authentication of Clothing Styles.
Arnold Karksken, One Way to Live
Emily Raboteau, Who is Zwarte Piet?
Herman Roodenburh, Their Own Heritage: Women Wearing Traditional Costumes in the Village of Marken