This evening, one of the Amsterdam members of our Pioneers group a brother -- who goes by "Philly" and could easily pass for Dominican in my NYC neighborhood -- invited me to "Get Known" a stand-up comedy open mic in Biljmerdreef in the Southeast section of Amsterdam. It's one of the creative outlets produced by his "Get Entertained" company which seeks to offer artistic outlets for the largely black, Surinam-descended inhabitants of this often-neglected part of the city.
I jumped at the opportunity and found what you can find in hoods everywhere across the world, whether a favela in Rio or Chicago's South Side. On the drive over, Philly described the shoot-first attitude of the cops toward these communities, the hustle engaged in by so many young people with no job prospects, the avoidance of conversation about Holland's slavery-based economy. I saw with my own eyes the same prison-esque project towers that dot so many urban landscapes across the globe.
But Phil also showed me what Get Entertained (http://www.getentertained.nl/) is doing, and it's inspiring to see. I'll post video later, but for now, trust me when I say they have an impressive, grassroots-directed program. You can tune in to their top-rated radio program via http://www.getmixed.fm and watch black DJs spitting Dutch and mixing live on the air.
Also, I got to do stand-up comedy, and it went really, really well. There really is a universal black (and actually human) experience that can transcend cultures and languages. Here are some pictures from my trek to The Biljmer.