Blackface in the Netherlands: why is the Zwarte Piet tradition still a thing?


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Blackface in the Netherlands: why is the Zwarte Piet tradition still a thing?



Zwarte Piet or Black Pete has been a festive tradition in the Netherlands for generations – which sees thousands of people, who are often white, dress up as the character wearing afro-style wigs, red lipstick and full blackface makeup. There have been attempts to make the holiday character less controversial but the tradition is still widely practiced. We went to the festivities this year to find out if time is nearly up for the tradition
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23 Comments

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  1. I'm surprised the film didn't mention the other beliefs which were given to children along with the black pete make up – the idea that if children are bad it is the black pete who will hit you with sticks, stuff you in a bag and take you to Spain! When my brother lived in the Netherlands he was thoroughly shocked by the ubiquitous Zwarte Pete. It may be fun and people may smile while they dress up, but Black Pete is not really much more "traditional" than "Chimney Pete" and I believe that it's a tradition which needs to change. 1850 isn't that long ago… Chimney Pete should definitely become a thing, minus the curly wigs and red lips.

  2. 9:15 – "I'm not here to tell people how to celebrate their traditions" Actually… you clearly are. Your approval is worthless, we did not seek it and white people need to remember that. This is not your land, declaring that it is and that it must change is far more offensive than face paint.

  3. But we've always been doing it that way.
    One of the most dangerous arguments against change.
    Listen carefully and notice how many people and politicians fall for this fallacy.

  4. så jeg er oprindeligt fra Tyskland, men jeg bor i Holland. Jeg har set dette før, folk ser ikke noget galt med det. jeg kan huske at sige "er det ikke hånende sorte mennesker?" til nogen, og de blinkede ikke. det er noget, jeg får det traditionelle, men det er kneppet

  5. When they said that black Pete was a white guy with soot on his face. It should've looked like a white guy with soot on his face. Not red lips, an afro, and skin as black as coal-like some racist 1930s skit. That's clearly blackface.

  6. It has nothing to do with colonial time / slavery but then use it to attack anyone who disagree with tradition? Santa goes down the chimney not did his skin change but then piet goes once and ''mimice '' stereotypical black features?

  7. throughout our childhood, Blackface gave us presents in the night. They came through the chimney with soot, so they are black. Our parents put the presents away with gingerbread cookies! and I am not racist but those people want to ruin a centuries-old CHILDREN PARTY! Immediately a child asks "Mom, what is the neighbor doing dressed up as a Blackface?”

  8. I'm from the Netherlands and it does have a negative effect calling millions of people racist for celebrating something they have fond memories of since early childhood. Most people like Black Pete not because they are overtly racist , it's more an emotional attatchement. I think people should attack endemic racism and not the individual. The effect now is that people dig in their heels and suddenly love Zwarte Piet although they didn't really have strong opinions about it before.

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