Cabinet adopts term ‘bicultural’ for ethnic minorities

The cabinet seems to have adopted the term ‘bicultural’ as a term for people from ethnic minorities. It has announced in a press release that “more managers with a bicultural background” should be employed by the government.

The organisation Inspiration for Integration (IVI) launched a media campaign in February 2008 to introduce the term ‘bicultural’. The usual term for immigrants, ‘allochtonen’, had acquired too many negative implications, in the view of IVI. Several leftwing parties in parliament welcomed the initiative, but it soon disappeared into the background.

However, the cabinet has now embraced the term. It decided on Friday that more women and Muslims should be employed at the ministries. “The ministers will personally make sure that the departmental targets with respect to managers with a bicultural background will be achieved.” The goal is to appoint six people from ethnic minorities as senior civil servants in each department.

Alexander Rinnooy Kan, the chairman of the Social Economic Council (SER), is chairman of the IVI jury that awards an annual integration prize. The jury also includes politicians from various political parties.

“The word bicultural is a positive counterpart for the word allochtoon,” Yesim Candam, the Turkish founder of IVI, said last year. “We used to say ‘guest labourer’, ‘new Dutch’ or ‘allochtoon’. ‘Bicultural’ is the first term that expresses the fact that two cultures are more than one!”

The term allochtoon (someone with one or both parents born abroad) was introduced in schools in the 1980s for the sake of political correctness. Since then, it has acquired a negative image, IVI claims.