‘Zwarte Piet is Racism’: Criticism of Dutch fictional Christmas figure ‘Black Pete’ grows
Visitors to the Netherlands in winter are often surprised to see the Dutch version of St. Nicholas’s helpers have their faces painted black, wear Afro wigs and have thick red lips — in short, a racist caricature of a black person.
Most Dutch are devoted to the holiday tradition of Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) and insist he’s a harmless fictional figure who doesn’t represent any race. But a growing number are questioning whether he should be given a makeover or banished, seeing him as a blight on the country’s image as a bulwark of tolerance.
“There is more opposition to Zwarte Piet than you might think,” says Jessica Silversmith, director of the regional Anti-Discrimination Bureau for Amsterdam. (DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images; Margriet Faber / The Associated Press)