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Scratching the Surface || Sombra Di Koló

Sombra di Koló is the result of the two-year journey, anthropologist Angela Roe took to discover the meaning of race and skin color in Curaçao.

 

“Colonialism has taught us to accept self-discrimination. We need to understand the origin of racism and its psychological influences.


A Sombra di Koló Review”

Sombra di Koló is the result of the two-year journey, anthropologist Angela Roe took to discover the meaning of race and skin color in Curaçao. Together with filmmakers Selwyn de Wind and Hester Jonkhout, we see Angela exploring five neighborhoods on the island speaking to a number of islanders from different social economic backgrounds. Angela was intrigued to learn about race relation in Curaçao, when she visited Curacao in 2001 and her aunt told her: “you can do whatever you like, as long as you don’t bring home a man of color.” Shocked by this statement she set out to document the stories from the people of Barber, Seru Fortuna, Otrobanda, Janwe and Jan Sofat. No matter their social class, everyone had a story to tell.

Unfortunately the topic of race is still taboo on our island and this movie is a great opportunity to catapult a dialogue, which was obvious by the audience’s positive reaction. This documentary points out how people of color view themselves and if this influences their standing in society. This exploration scratches the surface of very deep colonial entrenches that have plagued our society from its very inception. Although not often in public, this subject has been researched and debated among scholars and politicians. This documentary can add to that rhetoric and has a more widespread reach.

Very much like anywhere around the world, there is a clear link between race and class, which cannot be denied, but how much of one’s social circumstance can be attributed to race or class? I would have liked to see a deeper exploration of this. However, a one-hour documentary means compromising, which is why I think that it was opted for a more artistic approach than an anthropological one. At least I am now curious to read Roe’s dissertation, where I can only assume we will see a deeper exploration of this subject. The documentary ends where it begins, with Roe now asking her informants, whom do you fall in love with?

We see their answers but I truly believe that this is food for another documentary. Relationships among people of color, especially interracial relationships are changing across the planet. I would like to see how this unfolds in Curaçao.

The reactions have been very positive so far and it was no different on the day I saw the documentary. People were eager to share their story and were inquisitive about the subject. One of the most memorable discussions that took place was when a woman stated that you are as discriminated as you feel. “My father taught me that most of the time people are simply ignorant and that you have to change yourself and how you deal with a situation. Educate them, instead of feeling angry at them or sorry for yourself. When you change, others will change as well.” I honestly have too much of Malcolm X in me to fully agree with this statement, but do appreciate the “change your thoughts, change the world” message she had.

An elderly man pointed out that we tend to rival each other based on our skin tone. “Colonialism has taught us to accept self-discrimination. We need to understand the origin of racism and its psychological influences. Look at how we denigrate each other in this this day and age. All those negative black connotations used today are not a mere coincidence, it was by design.”

 

People of color have managed to become CEOs of large companies. When we talk about discrimination, we also need to look at people’s social situation.

Robert, another audience member whom I spoke with after the film mentioned that perhaps we should also look at heuristics. “We shouldn’t forget that as a nation we have also made many strives and quite a few accomplishments. People of color have managed to become CEOs of large companies. When we talk about discrimination, we also need to look at people’s social situation. Are you going to hire someone who can get to work easily or one who has trouble doing so? Will you hire someone who is ready to work or one who you need to educate? So, this discussion of discrimination may not necessarily be one of color but of classism.”

 

“I enjoyed the Documentary but found it one-sided,”

“I enjoyed the Documentary but found it one-sided,” says Michael. “There are light skinned or white people living in all five neighborhoods that were explored, perhaps to a lesser extentin Seru Fortuna, yet in this documentary we only see them in Jan Sofat. I would have liked to see the stories of more color, like the Latino of Hindu. On the other hand, I understand that there is so much you can do in one hour. I concluded something that I always suspected though, that people of color discriminate each other. I always had my suspicions, but now they have been confirmed.

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