Pretty Boys

Once upon a time, you didn’t exist
when I came here, to Holland (thirty years ago).
You didn’t yet exist here then
(your fathers did, but they were different).
You didn’t exist yet
As ‘The Moroccan’,
as a specific group,
as a concept,
as a subject, as a picture,
for every newspaper, TV and magazine column
(I was not an ‘allochtoon’ yet and neither were you).
But when you came
so did the attraction and the fear.
You, the Mediterranean type,
the physiognomy of the Latin lover,
the Arab on the white scooter,
the lover boy, the rapper, the Palestinian brother…
And the Dutch daughters fell in love.
And their fathers grew confused.
And called all Turks Moroccans.
(all Moroccans are named Mohammed, Rashid or Ali,
all the Dutch boys are named Piet or Jan).
Her new Turkish boyfriend said
‘your father and I have at least
one thing in common:
neither of us likes
Moroccans.’


Pretty Boys. First published in Respect! Forms of community – Contemporary art From the Netherlands, (cat.), Marrakech, 2005; and included in Marlene Dumas, Sweet Nothings. Notes and Texts, second edition (revised and expanded) Koenig Books London, 2014.