Boys will be boys in every country, but why is racism a constant factor?
The undeniable leadership of Amsterdam fire chief Leen Schaap
People don’t like change. They may say they do, but far too many that want to see improvements also want to avoid confrontation. I’ve never been built like that. There’s a miniature attorney who lives inside of my head rent-free and ready for the next debate at all times. She never passed the bar, and she’s forever ruining my weekends on Twitter. But I’ve learned to live with her thirst for constructive debate.
One of those debates that I’ll occasionally have when speaking up about anti-racism, anti-sexism and all the other -isms/-phobias is with those who swear the United States of America is the only place that is riddled with racism. According to these unsolicited travel guides, the go-to place where racism miraculously disappears is always Europe. My response to this declaration used to be a short tale about one of my 50 childhood pen pals who’d tell me her own experiences. Now? Now I have a better comeback: “Tell me why Amsterdam fire chief Leen Schaap got fired then.”
I have always considered firefighters to be the good guys. No matter the critiques of police officers — and I (and probably most black women) have a seesaw relationship with the Boys in Blue — the idea of being frustrated with firefighters just never entered my mind. These are people who literally and physically will walk through fire to save you. Who could possibly have an issue with firefighters — besides this guy? Why would I want to make them my enemy? What complaint could I possibly have to say about such a brave group? Well, I guess I do now.
Leen Schaap’s interview on “This American Life” is so wild that I was left with my jaw on the ground. Still, it makes sense that a former police chief would be tough enough to take on all the racism, sexism, islamophobia and painfully childish behavior. Even at the point of death threats from his own department (allegedly), Leen Schaap told BBC, “I’m not a baby and I’m pretty used to it in the police. This affects me but doesn’t infect me.”