Protesters Shun ‘Racist’ Black Pete in Amsterdam Festival

France 24, November 17, 2013

Tens of thousands of people crowded Amsterdam’s streets on Sunday to watch the traditional holiday arrival of Saint Nicholas as a handful joined a silent protest against his sidekick “Black Pete”, which they said was a racist symbol.

The debate over Black Pete has reached a fever pitch in the last weeks in the Netherlands, highlighting the issue of racism in a country that prides itself on open-minded values. It has even sparked a UN rights probe.

Two months ago 21 Dutch citizens filed complaints against Black Pete’s presence at the annual Saint Nicholas arrival festival, a move that has split opinion in the country of 16.7 million people.

The complainants, many of whom are descendants of people from former Dutch colonies like Suriname and Curacao, asked Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan to pull the permit for the festival because of Black Pete’s presence.

Their request was turned down and on Sunday demonstrators taped their mouths and turned their backs as thousands of spectators cheered Saint Nicholas’ arrival in the city centre, accompanied by hundreds of Black Petes.

“Black Pete reminds us of a time when black people were enslaved. It’s not appropriate in 2013,” said one of the protesters, Kenneth Brammerloo, 52, wearing a T-shirt depicting Black Pete’s face with a “no-entry” sign over it.

{snip}

At its famous Dam Square, around 75 demonstrators, many wearing anti-Black Pete T-shirts, turned their backs in silent protest as Saint Nick and his helpers passed by.

Demonstrators

The invention of a Dutch school teacher, Black Pete has since 1850 been loyally at the side of Saint Nicholas, the Dutch version of Santa Claus or Father Christmas.

Saint Nicholas and his helpers traditionally “arrive” with a gift-filled boat from Spain on the third weekend of November.

Three weeks later, on December 5, the Dutch give each other gifts said to have been distributed by Saint Nicholas–a Turkish bishop wearing a long red gown and mitre–and Black Pete.

Dressed in a gaudy medieval costume, with a blackened face, red lips and an afro wig, Pete is seen by many ordinary Dutch as a harmless prankster cheering up a children’s festival.

Opponents however say the character recalls the time when Dutch colonists exploited slaves, notably in the Caribbean colonies of Suriname and Curacao.

{snip}

“The protest is totally ridiculous,” said a woman, 72, who declined to give her name. “The whole of the Netherlands are against these people.”

Although the debate surfaces every year, the row is particularly bitter this year after the Jamaican chair of a committee at the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Verene Shepherd, bluntly told Dutch television that “the practice must stop”.

Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Puggg

    If they don’t like it, well, I guess there are daily flights out of Amsterdam going to Suriname and Curacao.

    • Pro_Whitey

      Amen. I like that one Zwarte Piet got right up behind these loathesome parasites for the picture.

      • ViktorNN

        I laughed at that photobomb too. Good job Black Pete!

    • gregCall

      No chance they will return to a black country when they can enjoy the standard of living found in a white one. And if they did return no one there would listen and give any credence to their constant complaints.

      • Erasmus

        No chance they will return to a black country when they can enjoy the standard of living found in a white one.

        And on top of it all paid for by YT.

    • Spartacus

      I can’t imagine a worst punishment for these vermin than sending them to the darkest darkland possible.

  • Erasmus

    I wish someone would kick these perpetually aggrieved sourpusses to death…I am, of course, kidding…slightly. Or, let them all hightail it to any sub-Saharan country of their choice, where the only black peters they’ll see are attached to people with IQs of a warm spring day.

  • Pro_Whitey

    And what’s with the tape across the lips? It’s not that they can’t speak, it’s that they won’t shut the bleep up. All of the Netherlands have heard you, but they reject you. Feel free to expatriate.

    • Skip Wellington

      Tragedy struck when all the protesters suffocated after affixing tape over their mouth AND nostrils.

      • Erasmus

        And the mean IQ among Amsterdamers rose considerably.

  • IstvanIN

    The Netherlands needs to deport anyone who isn’t Dutch, or at least European, grant independce to Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten, and be happy ever more.

  • kjh64

    The Dutch have pointed fingers at the USA accusing us of being “racists” and mistreating the poor, little Blacks. So, it’s seems their chickens are coming home to roost.

  • bigone4u

    The protestors got photbombed by the Black Pete in the background. The tape is going to hurt coming off as it pulls fine hairs out of their follicles. And the Dutch said “NO” to their demands. A fine day in Holland it was.

    • Erasmus

      I like the Dutch more and more. Me thinks that, like the Brits, the French and the Greeks, the Dutch are waking up to what bullshi’ite celebrating diversity is.

  • Kit Ingoldby

    If you don’t like Dutch culture and you don’t like Dutch customs then why stay in Holland?

    • Blue-eyed Devil

      What’s wrong with black immigrants migrating to Holland? You’re a racist.

    • M.

      1) The social services, aka the “free” stuff;
      2) civilization;
      3) Dutch women.

      • Oldcorporal

        And not necessarily in that order.

  • Oldcorporal

    Let’s hope the Dutch stick to their guns and keep “Black Peter” in the annual parades. They’re now finding out the hard way, as have the British and French, the folly of letting so many non-Whites from former colonies flock into the motherland.

  • ViktorNN

    The UN should keep its broad flat nose out of the Netherland’s very old cultural practices. You know what? No one gives a cr*p if blacks are offended. There, I said it.

  • Katherine McChesney

    My Dutch-born brother-in-law and my sister were mortified when I told them about these protestors and their claims of racism.

  • Ograf

    I’d have to tell that high commissioner from the U.N. to KMLWA.

  • Paleoconn

    The tradition of Zwarte Piet actually is a lot older than the modern depiction by that 1850 schoolteacher. She didn’t invent it, what rubbish!

    Also St. Nicholas as Turkish bishop? What a laugh! just because St. Nicholas lived in the region of Asia Minor which is occupied by modern Turkey, does not make him Turkish. Turks did not make their appearance in that area until the 12th century or so. Do these stupid journalists research anything?