Black Pete is negative stereotype, Amsterdam court rules
The tradition sees white people wear black face paint, Afro hair wigs and bright red lips while they help Father Christmas hand out gifts
A Dutch court has ruled that Amsterdam must re-think a tradition in which white adults dress as Father Christmas' helpers in black-face makeup and Afro wigs.
During the Christmas period, thousands of children watch adults re-enact the myth of the arrival of Sinterklaas, or St Nicholas, from Spain, who is accompanied by a flotilla of Zwarte Piets, or Black Petes, who hand out gifts.
The debate surrounding Zwarte Piet has intensified in recent years, with most Dutch people arguing that he is not intended to be racist, but is a harmless fantasy figure.
But opponents claim that the clown-like character with thick red lips and a frizzy Afro hairstyle is a racist caricature of black people and stems from the slavery of black Africans.
Demonstrators in Amsterdam holding placards reading "Black Pete is Rascism" and "Free Pete"
On Thursday, the Amsterdam District Court ordered the city to re-examine its decision to grant a permit for the arrival of Father Christmas and the group of Black Petes.
It said that Black Pete's appearance, in combination with the fact that he is often portrayed as stupid and obedient, means it is “a negative stereotype of black people". The court also cited a publication by the country's national human rights commission this week that found that white Dutch leaders frequently react with “irritation and dismissal” when questions of racism are raised, even though workplace discrimination is well documented in the Netherlands.
“I am really happy, and I congratulate the Dutch people that we together can work on a Netherlands that is free of racism,” Barryl Biekman, the head of the Platform Slavery History organization, said in an interview with NOS TV.
“If this continues, it would mean that the Dutch state and all of its municipalities, are jointly responsible for maintaining racism in this country," he added.
The city has begun discussing possible solutions, including using different colors of face paint for Pete, or smudging his cheeks with soot.
Additional reporting by AP
- 1 Malaysian cyclist could face disciplinary action after 'Save Gaza' gloves protest
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
- 4 McDonald’s removes chicken nuggets from the menu in Hong Kong amid major food scare
- 5 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israeli targeting policy under scrutiny after shellfire hits a mother and child, a school full of refugees and a doctor’s home
MH17 crash: Investigators discover more human remains and 'huge section of plane'
Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
McDonald’s removes chicken nuggets from the menu in Hong Kong amid major food scare
Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space, Russia loses control of mission
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...
£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...