Dutch Colonial Hangover

This year, the children’s festival of Saint Nicolas in the Netherlands, was not as traditional as it was years ago. This year, anti-racists and black activists choose to defy a court order to demonstrate against Black Pete ( Zwarte Piet ), a fictional character played by white people with black painted faces, red lips, golden earrings and black curly hair. Black Pete is a racist stereotype of a black person, however 95% of all ( white ) Dutch do not see it this way. They see a child loving friendly person, who does not discriminate. White people also claim that Pete is not a black person, he is black because he is climbing down and up a chimney. This is what children as told, that Black Pete is not a black person!

The character was created in 1850, as a servant to Saint Nicolas ( Sinterklaas ). Over the course of time, Pete was portrayed as all blacks were. In many children cartoons and comics up to 1968, blacks were all portrayed as clumsy, ignorant and backward. Their all appeared with big red lips, black skin colour, big earrings and black curly hair. After 1968, Europeans started to move away from this racist look on blacks. Black Pete however never changed and most ( white ) Dutch do not want it to change. Many black colored Dutch have enough of this racist character and now dare to fight the dogma of ”Zwarte Piet”. Which has led to racist comments on the internet and outright rejection by White Dutch. They say that Black Pete is ”their” tradition and that those who oppose him are ”complain petes” ( zeurpieten )!

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