Dutch Newspaper Thought This Racist Headline for Ta-Nehisi Coates's Book Review Was OK

Dutch Newspaper Thought This Racist Headline for Ta-Nehisi Coates's Book Review Was OK

A Dutch newspaper named NRC Handelsblad wrote "Nigger, Are You Crazy" as a headline for a review of Ta-Nehesi Coates latest book, Between the World and Me.

Published August 14, 2015

Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad wrote, "N****, Are You Crazy," as a headline for a review of Ta-Nehisi Coates's latest book, Between the World and Me. Perhaps the publication's book editor should have asked, "Are we crazy?" for publishing the racially insensitive copy. This is an obvious no-no taught in Racism 101.

Additionally, the article features Black figures with red lips, remnant of blackface makeup used in minstrel shows and Zwarte Piet, a controversial character part of the annual feast of St. Nicholas in the Netherlands.

Apparently the review written by the newspaper's Washington correspondent Guus Valk covers three books on race relations including Coates's work, Paul Beatty's The Sellout and Mat Johnson's Loving Day, according to Michel Krielaars, an editor for NRC. 

"The tone of the article is pessimistic, and the illustrations, as well as the headline, were meant to reflect that," Krielaars wrote according to the Washington Post. "There is no racist remark to be read in the review, because that is not our cup of tea."

Krielaars also explained that the headline was, "a [fictional] quote made by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas [in The Sellout]."

The illustrations were also intentional. "Like I said: the illustrations are offensive, because the racial situation in the U.S., as described in the reviewed books, is offensive," Krielaars wrote. 

Some Black Dutch have taken offense to the editorial such as Simone Zeefuik, who wrote on her blog that the mainstream Dutch likes to see Blackness as "colonial, submissive, sad and with a dash of blackface.”

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(Photo: Brian Cahn/ZUMA Press/Corbis)

Written by Natelege Whaley

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