Social activist Quincy Gario gives keynote at USM

Quinsy Gario


PHILIPSBURG – Faced with what many consider the worldwide resurgence of virulent forms of ethnic chauvinism and xenophobia, fear and urban uprisings as Donald J. Trump prepares to inhabit the White House, and the PVV, the Dutch rightwing party, becoming the major vote getter in the upcoming elections in the Netherlands, the University of St. Martin (USM) has teamed up with the Eastern Caribbean Public Health Foundation (ECPHF) of St. Eustatius, and the National Archaeological and Anthropological Memory Management (NAAM) on Curaçao, to organize a 2-day conference entitled: “Raising the Curtain on Race.”

To start off the discussion and offer useful input, Quinsy Gario, one of St. Maarten’s well-known social activists, will give the keynote lecture. Gario, who was born in Curaçao, but grew up on St. Maarten, is a regular on Dutch TV programs and radio. He has featured in international documentaries and news channels such as CNN and BBC. A columnist and poet in his own right, Gario has galvanized attention in the Netherlands for those who oppose the blackface tradition in the Netherlands associated with Sinter Klaas and Zwarte Piet.

Dean of USM Geneve Phillip commented, “USM is proud to be able to contribute to a conversation that is taking place globally. The issues of race and race relations have implications not only where dichotomous relationships are prevalent between black and white, but there are also implications for us in the Caribbean region, which is often perceived to be homogenous. Based on the region’s history of European colonialism, this is evidently not quite the case. The intention therefore is to reflect on past conversations in the sphere of race relations, linking it to contemporary discourses in an effort to determine the extent to which we have made any progress.”

Roundtable discussions will take place on the topics: Racism and Christianity, Racism and the Environment/Ecological Disasters, Racism and Language. The conference will feature local personalities, such as Drs. Delano Richardson, Darren Wilson, Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, Drs. Benjamin Ortega and Wendie Brown.

Additionally, there will be international presenters, among whom will be, Nicole Weaver of the Central Bureau of Statistics Curaçao, who conducted a survey on social inclusion, a view of belongingness, discrimination and interpersonal trust.

Peter Burns (Africa Caribbean Heritage Alliance, ACHA) will also deliver a presentation on “Slavery reparations: A remedy for past injustices in the Dutch Caribbean?”

“The Raising the Curtain on Race” conference is scheduled for December 1-2, commencing 9:00am to 5:00pm daily at USM. The general public is invited to attend. Registration commences at 9:00am.