Time for Santa to wave "vaarwel" to Black Pete?


I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Time for Santa to wave "vaarwel" to Black Pete?

By Robert-Jan Bartunek and Thomas Escritt
BRUSSELS/AMSTERDAM | Mon Dec 3, 2012 10:26am EST
(Reuters) - The Netherlands and Belgium are two countries that pride themselves on progressive laws and open societies, but critics say they are stuck in the dark ages when it comes to depictions of Santa Claus and his helpers.

Saint Nicholas, or "Sinterklaas" in Dutch, brings presents to children on December 5 in the Netherlands and on December 6 in Belgium, and is always accompanied by at least one assistant dressed in 17th century costume who has a blackened face.

The tradition has been difficult for Dutch and Belgian people to explain abroad, where "Zwarte Piet" (Black Pete) is viewed with either outrage or ridicule.

Dutch pub "De Hems" in London opts for blue face paint instead. Sinterklaas celebrations in western Canada organized by the Dutch community were called off last year and former Dutch colony Suriname has said Zwarte Piet is not welcome this year because of concerns over racism.

For most Dutch and Belgians Zwarte Piet is an innocuous fairytale character who assists the popular Sinterklaas and hands out candy to children, but some there too argue he is a harmful stereotype best done away with.

"It was about six years ago when my mum came home from work and phoned me," performance artist Quinsy Gario, who was born on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao, told Reuters.

"On the phone I could hear her trembling. She was upset, livid, and said someone at work had called her Zwarte Piet."

In 2011, Gario decided to protest against the tradition by standing with a "Zwarte Piet is racism" T-shirt in a crowd watching a Sinterklaas parade in the Dutch town of Dordrecht. His subsequent arrest made headlines in Dutch media.

Film by a bystander showed three police officers pinning him to the ground and kneeing him in the back. Gario also said he had pepper spray sprayed in his eyes.

"I spent six and a half hours in a jail cell for freedom of expression," he said.


Nevertheless, Zwarte Piet remains popular in 2012, and his traditional arrival by boat with Sinterklaas a few weeks ahead of the actual celebration was witnessed by thousands of starry-eyed children in Brussels and Amsterdam.

Sinterklaas, the presents he brings, as well as the traditional food and candy sold around this time are also good business for companies such as toy stores and supermarkets.

"Families with children are a very important customer group of ours. How would you explain to your children that Zwarte Piet is no longer allowed?," said Chief Operating Officer Sander van der Laan of Albert Heijn, the Netherlands' largest supermarket.

Dutch anti-discrimination organisation RADAR said that it would talk to retail organizations in the coming months about how to make Zwarte Piet less racist.

"We believe that you have to go to Piet, not Zwarte Piet, to leave the celebration intact but get rid of the stereotypes," said Margriet Maris, a lawyer at RADAR.

Formal complaints are still quite rare. Belgium's centre of equal opportunities said that of more than 4,000 complaints it received a year only one or two were related to Zwarte Piet.

RADAR said it had received about 25 related complaints this year, still only a fraction of the 1,000 it dealt with overall.

The tradition of St Nicholas exists in other European countries, including Austria and Germany. But he is only accompanied by black helpers in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Celebrations were depicted on paintings of 17th century Dutch artists Jan Steen and Richard Brakenburg, but Zwarte Piet only made his first appearance in a mid-19th century illustrated book by Dutch teacher Jan Schenkman.

Entitled "St Nicholas and his servant," it showed a short, dark-faced man dressed in a Moorish costume a few steps behind an imposing white man with a white beard and bishop's outfit.

"There's a theory that says that important people had a black servant, it was a status symbol. Sinterklaas was an important man, so he needed one too," said John Helsloot a researcher at the Meertens Institute in Amsterdam.

"Somebody who dresses up as Zwarte Piet is not a racist but it is a fact that he's part of a tradition which gives a stereotypical, racist image of black people," he said.

Pressure on Zwarte Piet seems to be increasing in 2012 and even well-known conservative blog "Geen Stijl" (No Style) has written that it's time for Sinterklaas to find a new helper.

"It's 2012, people," wrote GeenStijl in a post that attracted much attention. "We're better than Zwarte Piet."

(Additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop, editing by Paul Casciato)

Black Pete is my nigga.
"It was about six years ago when my mum came home from work and phoned me," performance artist Quinsy Gario, who was born on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao, told Reuters.

"On the phone I could hear her trembling. She was upset, livid, and said someone at work had called her Zwarte Piet."

Ummm go back to Curacao?

Oh found this charming fact on Wiki...

Foreign tourists, particularly those from the United States and Britain[citation needed], often experience culture shock when encountering the character, as dressing in blackface is considered offensive in these and other countries. Since the 1990s, there have been several attempts to introduce a new kind of Zwarte Piet to the Dutch public, among them replacing traditional black makeup with various other shades of colors.[8] As an experiment in 2006, the NPS (en: Dutch Programme Foundation) replaced the black Pieten with rainbow-colored Pieten but reverted the characters back to the traditional all-black makeup a year later.[9]



I'm Team Piggy!
Black Pete rules. I had him growing up. The more fucked up one is THIS from the Netherlands/Scandinavian Countries/Germany...

Krampus. He was an angel that God sent to Hell to be trained how to kipnap and torture exceptionally bad behaved children around Christmas. While he was kidnapping children he would whip them with briars and nettles. No bullshit. That is the Teutonic Christmas Story. If you were bad, instead of a Saint Nicholas gift, he'd give you coal and rotten potatoes. But the worst get carried away in a basket. "Use your imagination" was the explanation for what happened to kids.

I'll take Black Pete any day.

Norm Stansfield

It's not racist. They were trying to get a real black person, but they all have jobs already. So they had to paint a white dude up.


I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Seriously, check out the fark thread. I think the resident race baiter is spitting on himself.
Seriously, check out the fark thread. I think the resident race baiter is spitting on himself.
I stopped going there a few years ago... did have a look at that thread though... eeeesh


I want to fuck your girlfriend.
Don't we have worse problems in the world? These cunts focus on this? We are doomed.


Ideologically Unsound
Anything that is black is automatically racist. When is the rest of the world going to get that through there skulls.


I'm Team Piggy!
Why does The Netherlands even import welfare-leeching black malcontents? Anybody who bitches should get a bill and a boat ride to whatever 9th world, Mud Age hellscape they came from.
What about the feelings of the Dutch who have had this tradition for centuries? Concern about people's feelings and culture only ever goes one way.

Konstantin K

Big League Poster
I liked the story better when Javier Bardem told it in Collateral.