Amsterdam has a long-standing tradition of celebrating Christmas. “Sinterklass,” the Dutch version of Santa Claus, is portrayed by a white man accompanied by dozens of clown-like helpers called “Zwarte Pieten.”
The problem with these “Zwarte Pieten” or Black Petes is that they arrive in blackface makeup with red lips and curly Afro wigs.
Residents, fed up with the racial insensitivity, decided to protest the festival on Thursday.
The tradition is an important part of Dutch culture, but in recent years there have been growing complaints that Pete is offensive. One of 21 people who filed formal complaints, Imro Rietveld, described growing up as the only black-skinned child in his class. Every year, he said he was subjected to a month of taunts such as “your whole family is coming over in the boat” and “can you do tricks?”
According to Rietveld, many people take issue with Black Pete, but fear consequences of ridicule for speaking out.
The opponents do not wish for the festival to end, they just want Pete’s appearance to change.
You would think that people would understand how offensive blackface is.
How can we get people to understand that blackface isn’t cool?
Sound off below!