Between all the commotion around Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), Negerzoenen (N*ggerkisses) and other racist names and symbols in the Netherlands, we noticed something else. There was a product called Slavenarmband (Slave Bracelet) in Dutch jewelry stores.
When we did the research, we found out that these bracelets are litterally inspired by the way slaves used to be handcuffed. It seemed like the only place that this name was kept alive was in these jewelry stores and webshops. The people were used to that name, so they weren’t going to change it.
We decided to call them to find out, what they can tell us about this bracelet and it’s history.
After this part of the research, we found out that Google searches were the places the word is mainly used. It is the way jewelry stores reel in their customers. Some of them even used ‘slavenarmband’ as search term only, so it didn’t appear on their website with the same name.
We decided to intervene at this moment. By applying culture jamming principles we hijacked the search term ‘slavenarmband’ and the possibility of putting in information on the right side with a ‘company block’. In this block, we put information about the bracelet and its origins.
‘Slavenarmband might mean something different than you are aware of. The name derives from the times of slavery. Rich persons would offer their slaves steel bracelets, as a symbol of ownership. These were often too tight around the wrist and were engraved with the name of the owner. It was simply put another way of denying the slave his/hers identity. Maybe something to consider the next time you’re buying a slavenarmband.’