By November 18, 2016 0 Comments Read More →

Dutch Protest Santa Helper ‘Black Pete’ as Racist

Black Pete is center of controversy among the Dutch.

Black Pete is center of controversy among the Dutch.

Sinterklaas has arrived in the Netherlands, amid police monitoring to prevent violent confrontations between supporters and opponents of Sinterklaas’s controversial helper, “Black Pete.” Hundreds of police and security guards were present at the historic harbor of Maassluis where Sinterklaass and his helper arrived to mark the beginning of the Christmas season; they will deliver sweets and presents on the eve of December 5 to children who have been well behaved. Dutch newspapers reported that approximately 20,000 people attended the event.

Celebrations for Sinterklaass, or Saint Nicholas – inspiration for the American Santa Claus – or St. Nick, originated in the 16th century; Black Pete first appeared in the 1850s in a children’s book. St. Nick traditionally arrives by boat from Spain with his friend and helper Black Pete, who is said to be black because he is a Moor.

However, in recent years, controversy has arisen between those who support Black Pete and those who don’t. Supporters see the character as a harmless figure of fun and an essential part of their cultural heritage. They claim his face is painted black because he just came out of the chimney after delivering gifts and his face is covered with soot. Opponents see the character as a figure pointing back to the era when the Dutch practiced slavery; they oppose the character’s “racist nature.” The character, usually played by a white man, is recognized by a black face with large lips painted red, and an afro wig.

In 2014, a UN working group released a finding from an investigation that concluded that Black Pete was a racist figure. Based on that conclusion, an Amsterdam court ruled that Black Pete was a “negative stereotype” and encouraged the Dutch people to try to change the custom.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte has appealed for calm ahead of the celebrations and told people on both sides of the controversy to “just be normal.”

Posted in: Uncategorized

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.