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Personal Words From Our CEO About Racism

By Josi Van Ogtrop - Sambou

My resistance to the racism issue was the most interesting in my journey. I felt resistance when I saw people with Black Lives Matter signs. I felt resistance when I first heard about an important Dutch discussion: Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). That resistance was there because I always come up with excuses when people are being racist. I always try to put it in a different perspective. It hurts too much if I admit that racism is still a big issue in the Netherlands.

So I think: “maybe it is because of my personality”, “maybe I shouldn’t be so sensitive”, “maybe my work isn’t as good as my colleague’s”. “Maybe that was a stupid question”; when I asked where the bus stop was in Laren (a village in a posh part of the Netherlands). “We don’t travel with the bus”, was the answer after she checked me out from top to toe. She made me feel small, unworthy, uneducated and very far from home. But maybe it was my tone, or maybe she had a bad experience with a girl like me.

“With that being said; I am a very proud woman to carry the name Sambou.”

Many years ago I applied on a nanny platform. With my name: Josi Sambou, my picture and CV. There were no responses. A few years later I applied again but now with my mother’s last name Josi van Ogtrop, my picture and CV. Within 24 hours I had a nanny agency and 3 other families calling me for work. I was happy but in total shock. Because I am a woman with a Gambian father and a Dutch mother, brought up in Amsterdam, with my Dutch family and friends, on Dutch schools and university. I am almost more a “van Ogtrop” than I’m a “Sambou”. But people judge on my last name. Which has nothing to do with my skills. They didn’t mean any harm but hurt me a lot. It is unfair and we need to be more conscious of ethnic profiling. 

With that being said; I am a very proud woman to carry the name Sambou. In 2018 I visited the island Kuba in Senegal where my ancestors are from and wauw I am proud to be a Sambou. We are incredibly independent, strong, ambitious and joyful. I am a proud woman to carry the last name van Ogtrop. We are open minded, educated and always up for a beautiful discussion. My families in both completely different countries are always welcoming everybody everywhere. In the Netherlands my father never felt unwelcomed, better or worse than anybody else in the family. And that meant everything in their time. The first time my cousin (then 3 years old) saw “Black Pete”, he ran into my father’s arms because he was scared. This was also the first time he met my father by the way. How beautiful! 

At The Nanny Line we do not discriminate. We have male and female nannies working with us from all over the world. Who speak over 26 different languages. In our team of staff we proudly represent: UK, Bulgaria, Kenia, Argentina, Hungary, Portugal, Morocco, US, the Netherlands and the Gambia. Which I am oh so proud of. 

Long story short I felt resistant because “it isn’t all the bad, just toughen up”. I felt resistance because feeling the pain of racism in my own home goes too deep to get into. But I opened my heart, eyes and ears to the topic. Which is painful. Believe me, there were many tears today. But I am grateful this is being discussed. It is important we are aware of each others stories and experiences. So that we can take this with us in our daily lives and fight for more equality worldwide.

Thank you to everybody who is showing solidarity. Thank you Baba and Zoila for sharing your story and inspire me to share mine. Let’s empower each other, learn from each other and built a better world for our children together. Let’s not tear each other down because we’re in pain. And let’s leave everybody to do what feels right. There is no right or wrong as long as we show respect, love and understanding. 

#watch13thonnetflix #educateyourself #solidaritywins


9 thoughts on “Personal words from our CEO about racism”

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  2. Adriana Blanc

    Dear Josi,
    First of all, your parents are beautiful!! Now I know where you get your looks from:)
    Thank you very much for sharing this. I have been in a lot of pain and shock lately watching the US news. I also watched 13th last weekend. What an eye opener! I am Mexican by birth and a naturalized US citizen. My parents moved to the US when I was a baby. I never felt any racism towards me nor did I see it in my public high school. I´m not sure if it´s because I am so proud of my heritage that I didn´t notice, or if people were just careful around me. The current events have opened my eyes to educate myself in the deep rooted racism that exists in the US and how sadly the country is divided at the moment. I truly hope that this movement brings about a positive change, even if not globally, I know it will as individuals. So happy for your successful business!

    1. Hi Adriana,
      Thank you for your kind words. That means a lot!

      Yes we have to keep ourselves educated on this topic. And I hope we can make the change with awareness and understanding for each other.

  3. Puur was je al, altijd jezelf. Nu heb je ook je kracht gevonden. Wat fantastisch om te lezen! Alle geluk, Josi!

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