About Black Pete (Again)

We did it, kids! This year, at the arrival of Sinterklaas, there were Cheese Petes (it happened in Gouda), black-because-of-soot Petes, and rainbow Petes. Oh, and tons and tons of death threats, I’m-not-a-racist-you’re-politically-correct, and more fun kneejerks. Just like last year.

While the world is struggling with IS, and Europe with extreme right parties and EU-taxes, the Netherlands choses to focus on a children’s party and how to appease all the adults (involved). And while the majority of the We-Need-Change (they don’t call themselves anti-Black Pete, they want it to be discussed) people can play in a sane matter, the pro-group falls back on anything they don’t want to be accused of. “If those fucking foreigners don’t like Dutch traditions, they better fuck off to their own country.” Such recognizable mutterings.

It’s clear from both mainstream and social media that a large part of Dutch people are so very much over the subject. Even though most politicians and not even head honcho in charge want to touch the subject, there are some (large city) mayors and companies saying that it should be a party for ALL children. And no, if a little black girl walks around in a Black Pete outfit, it doesn’t mean that all other people need to shut up on the subject.

So maybe change is finally coming. Maybe people will see that an attack on blackface isn’t an attack on “fine” Dutch traditions and the Dutch country. Maybe tabloids will stop bringing children to tears because they really want them to say how they hate everything but Black Pete. Change might be coming, I just don’t expect it to come from those screaming loudest.

By freckle [M]

Freckle can't decide between writing fact or fiction, so she does both, on a very regular basis, and sometimes even for money.

4 replies on “About Black Pete (Again)”

Why is it that we forget as adults one of the first things we learn in school? “Share.” It shouldn’t be that hard to share something like a tradition. Yes, traditions give us a foundation and a sense of history. But when that history contains terrible things, you have to acknowledge them and try to change your present to be measurably less terrible.

Racial tensions are boiling over here in the US, and sometimes I feel like we must be the only country that gets things so wrong, so often. So while I won’t say I find this Dutch battle comforting, it is sort of nice to know that we’re not totally backwards and that this is something other countries and cultures struggle with. It’s also interesting to compare notes and see how other cultures handle clashes over changing things like their holiday traditions.

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