Monday, December 25, 2017

How to Ruin Your Christmas: ‘Black Pete’ Christmas Tradition Is Dividing the Netherlands

The Netherlands has a tradition of white people dressing up in ‘blackface’ to celebrate Christmas. Black Pete is the character they’re portraying. His costume may also comprise exaggerated red lips, a curly afro wig, and huge gold earrings.

At celebrations, Black Pete accompanies Santa Claus, as his bumbling helper.

Known locally as Zwarte Piet, Black Pete is slowly being phased out in some Dutch cities. But, the majority of the country continues on with the tradition. And while Dutch people of colour are sick of the overt racism, white nationalists are now feeling threatened.

On November 18, three busloads of Black Pete protesters were stopped on a highway by a group of right-wing nationalists blocking the road. The demonstrators were on their way to the town of Dokkum to protest the Santa Claus arrival ceremony, which features the racist figure.

The police arrived 15 minutes into the standoff. However, the protesters reported that officers spent the next half hour chatting with the nationalists. By the time the demonstrators arrived in the city, they were told it was too late to hold their council-sanctioned protest, as it was a safety issue.

A week later, ten members of the Pro Black Pete Action Group stormed a primary school in the city of Utrecht. Dressed as Black Pete, the members of the group entered classrooms handing out stickers and flyers.

The group had targeted the school as it had ceased including Black Pete in its Christmas celebrations in 2015. When teachers asked the intruders to leave the premises, they responded by telling some of the members of staff to go back to their own country.  (more...)

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