Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. have sparked a reckoning about racism and colonialism across the world, including in Belgium, where a growing movement is demanding the country address systemic racism and make amends for its violent colonial legacy. King Philippe issued an unprecedented statement “expressing regret” for Belgium’s brutal colonial rule in Congo under Leopold II, who ran the country as his personal fiefdom and under whose command millions of Congolese were enslaved and killed. “It’s an erased history,” says Belgo-Congolese journalist and activist Gia Abrassart. We also speak with Princess Esméralda, a member of the Belgian royal family and great-grandniece of Leopold II, who says the country has taken an important first step, but adds that “we have to go much farther.”
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