Why Zwarte Piet must remain black!
As I write this, it’s November again. In the Netherlands, the annual pretending not to be black season is about to begin. I am of course referring to the annual Sinterklaas celebration and the most popular ethnic minority in the Netherlands, the Zwarte Piets. At this time of year arguing about Zwarte Piet is almost becoming as much of a tradition as Sinterklaas itself. In the annual debate, there are three positions.
1. Zwarte Piet MUST remain black! It’s a traditie!!!
2. Blackface is racist and offensive time to change it
3. I don’t care, just give me my presents and pepernoten
Position three is usually that of kids, who unless they’ve been brainwashed by their parents, don’t give a stroopwafel about the color of Zwarte Piet as long as they get their sweets and presents. The proponents of the first two positions, however, become more heated every year. I’ve made my views about Zwarte Piet pretty clear over the years, which is why I’ve decided to interview a native Dutch person and ask why she and everyone she knows (including people of color) believes that Zwarte Piet must remain black.
The things I do for my readers!
It was never a problem before
Thank you, Shallow Man, for allowing the views of the majority of Nederlanders to be shared on your page. I can tell you that as a Dutch woman, I grew up with Zwarte Piet and I never, ever, thought of him as being a neger. In fact, if anything, we all loved Zwarte Piet. My Uncle wasn’t fond of negers but he loved Piet. So you see it makes no sense to compare the two.
Piet is a sort of clown, and really friendly, everyone loves him. Yes, he’s a little simple and makes mistakes, but then that’s why Sinterklaas is there, to put things in order. I wanted to be Zwarte Piet when I grew up, he was so popular. In fact, Zwarte Piet is a figure that minorities can aspire to be like. They might even find it easier to find jobs if they’d only smile more and hand out pepernoten.
All my black friends love him
Until that so-called activist Quinsy Gario made a big deal about Zwarte Piet being racist, no black person in the Netherlands had a problem with it at all. For example, in the law firm where I work, we often discuss Zwarte Piet with the token black lawyer that we had to employ because our American clients give a shit about diversity. When we ask her, she always says the same thing, which is that she doesn’t have a problem with ZP. I mean why would she lie? All my black friends don’t have an issue with Zwarte Piet. Don’t look at me like that Shallow Man I do have black friends. You for example.
We are definitely not friends
Ok, well Rinesh, my regular Uber driver, and the lady that cleans my office at work, we’re very good friends. They don’t have a problem with Zwarte Piet at all. So because Quinsy Gario and then the UN had the nerve to condemn us Dutch people for our nice tradition of Sinterklaas, now everyone is pretending to be upset about it, but four or five years ago you never heard anything about it!
The video below is from a 1987 edition of the Dutch version of Sesame Street.
He’s not a neger
Zwarte Piet is not a neger, everyone knows he’s black from soot. It’s terrible that the Dutch are being accused of using blackface, which is an American tradition that has nothing to do with our children’s party.
If we change this, then what next?
You know, it’s very disappointing that this year, Utrecht, Amsterdam, and even The Hague are all planning to move away from the traditional Zwarte Piets in the official welcome ceremonies. As Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, “Zwarte Piet is just black, there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Zwarte Piet needs to remain black because the clue is in the name. “Zwarte (Black) Piet”. He’s not called “white man with streaks of soot Piet”.
Black is black I want my blackface back
The new Zwarte Piets are terrible! I mean, the idea that a white person would go down a chimney and only come out with a few streaks of soot on their face. Belachelijk!! Also, why don’t they have afro style hair? Why aren’t their lips bright red? Where are the gold earrings? Why aren’t they a nice hagelslag brown color or as black as a Dutch girls leather jacket? I mean it’s so unrealistic! It’s yet another part of the Dutch way of life that has been changed to keep minorities happy.
At this point, I asked her what other things that Dutch people had allowed to change in order to keep minorities happy. After a long pause, she finally responded.
Sheep and goats are being slaughtered on the streets of the Netherlands, and Dutch people are afraid to say anything about it for fear of being called racist.
Really? Where is this happening?
All over the country. Ijburg, Bos en Lommer, Sloterdijk, the Schilderswijk, all over.
Just read quality social media sites such as Nederland Mijn Vaderland and you’ll see that it happens, a lot. The mainstream Dutch media is too afraid to write about it.
What about the movie white chicks?
You know we have to tolerate the world calling us racist because we black up for Sinterklaas, but what about the movie white chicks? Two black men pretend to be white girls, and they use whiteface makeup. That’s racist! You never hear white people complaining about that?
Oh yes we do, every bloody year actually. But is it fair to compare a single movie with over a hundred years, no sorry, ten thousand years of the blackface Zwarte Piet character?
It’s only a children’s party
It’s so sad that a party for children has been ruined by a tiny minority of troublemakers. When we go to the official Sinterklaas Intocht in Amsterdam this year, what shall I say when my kids ask me why Zwarte Piet isn’t black anymore? They’ll be so upset.
How old are they?
Eighteen and twenty-one.
Thank you for the interview
No black FBI agents pretending to be white chicks were hurt during the writing of this post.
Until next time, rot op naar je eigen dorp!
Piet wasn’t black from soot. If he was, what would explain the red lipstick and curly hair?
I’m gonna have to find the source back, but apparently the version of Sinterklaas’ helper we know today was a black man who was liberated from slavery by the Saint. But since he had nowhere to go, Sinterklaas offered Piet to work with (not for!) him, and in return Piet would get a place to live, nice clothes, three meals a day and a salary. Piet accepted and became the Saint’s knecht.
The creator of the story and the character deliberately had the two men depicted both riding on horses, and described that they were good friends and each other’s equals. Why? The author was against slavery that hadn’t been abolished in the Netherlands yet by the time he wrote this version of Sinterklaas.
So, to think that Pete is a character that proves the “systemic/inherent/unintended racism” in the Netherlands because you’d think he’s a slave, dim or a caricature, is blatantly wrong. When I was a kid I never associated Pete with actual black people, and I’ve heard this statement from many others- some of who are part of the Dutch black community.
Of course, I understand why both Dutchies and foreigners would think the character represents a racist caricature. Since the sixties or so Pete is namely played as a silly, dim character who speaks in an odd manner, and while this has already been changed to him being the smart best friend of the old, sometimes absent-minded Saint Nicholas. And since most people still believe in the Pete-is-black-from-the-soot-story, I think making Pete having no more than black, sooty stains in his face an improvement of the tradition. Plus I think the world will finally be okay with it. I mean, more and more Dutchies become pro- Soot Pete every year (though I think most who turn do it to make KOZP stop nagging).
Just too bad that the far left, politically correct corner is now targeting Sinterklaas as a “colonialist patriarch”. Where does it stop?
You are strawmanning a position now. You’d be more convincing steelmanning (giving the best arguments you heard to keep it, *whatever* they may be, and giving counterarguments. I’m sure thats possible without saying
1. That we all see Piet as simple and Sint as the guy to clean up the mess
2. Using the N-word
3. Saying a black lawyer is only hired as a ‘token black’ instead of for their skills
4. Saying that the only black friends a white person can have is a Uberdriver and a cleaner
I mean there were a couple of good points otherwise, but overall I had honestly expected better from you.
Love this article!