The Zwarte Piet Action Group
South Africa had Nelson Mandela and the ANC. The US had Malcolm X and Dr Martin Luther King and now the Netherlands has the Zwarte Piet Action Group, who also fight for black rights. Or better said, the right for white people to use blackface.
These brave civil rights heroes are led by an ex Pegida activist. Pegida is an anti-Islamic and anti-immigrant movement that was founded in Germany. A leading member of Pegida was arrested in Amsterdam for having a flag emboldened with a swastika.
The Zwarte Piet Action Group exists to push the agenda that Zwarte Piet can only be black. For them, any changes to the appearance of ZP, no matter how minor, are an affront to Dutch culture and history.
Actions carried out by the group so far
In recent weeks the group are responsible for the following:
- Entering a school dressed as Zwarte Piet in full blackface. Disrupting lessons and telling teaching staff that were not native Dutch to go back to their own countries.
- Turning up at the home of the Netherlands most hated black woman Sylvana Simons and making threats.
- Disrupting a meeting of Amsterdam City Council by entering the public seating area fully dressed up in blackface as Zwarte Piets.
Goodbye tolerance hello white supremacy
The ZP action group are neo-Zwarte Piets. Extremists from the far right of the political spectrum that has been able to flourish like flies on horse manure due to the toxic political climate in this country at the moment around Zwarte Piet. When even the Prime Minister of this country supports the suspension of the right to demonstrate during the Sinterklaas season so as not to upset the children, then it’s no wonder that neo-nazis are able to flourish.
The arguments to support the continued use of the ‘traditional’ Zwarte Piets used to be about keeping traditions and not making changes. Yet in recent years the discussion has descended into one where death threats and open racist abuse of Dutch people from an immigrant background has become the norm rather than the exception. People are even getting married in blackface!
The Zwarte Piet discussion has been hijacked by white supremacists and I’m afraid the Dutch only have themselves to blame for this. There’s a nasty undertone to the ZP debate that keeps talking about how the “majority” i.e. the white population, want Zwarte Piet to stay black. So if the majority decided that minorities need to go to work camps in order to help the Dutch economy would that be ok? Or what if the majority want all Muslims deported?
Things have gotten so bad in fact that even a black Dutch TV presenter, Humberto Tan, has to have bodyguards due to death threats he’s received for expressing his personal views about Zwarte Piet.
There used to be a time when ZP supporters would at least pretend not to be racist by starting each sentence on social media with, “ik ben geen racist maar…/I’m not racist but…” Nowadays they don’t even bother. Huge amounts of hate speech that would shock members of the Klu Klux Klan are used casually on mainstream Dutch social media sites. In fact, the more racist the comment, the more likes.
Check your white privilege
Zwarte Piet is a fictional character. He never existed. People are exploiting indifference and lack of empathy and are using it to intimidate and threaten those who don’t share their warped views that Zwarte Piet MUST be as black as possible. The existence of the extremist Zwarte Piet Action Group is a direct result of the common outright denial that racism exists in the Netherlands and the culture of blaming the victim rather than taking a good look at the racial problems of Dutch society. Dutch tolerance isn’t only dead. Neo-Zwarte Piet supporters have dug up the body and set it on fire.
No school kids were hurt during the writing of this post.