This week my Facebook News Feed resembles a picket line protesting ‘Zwarte Piet’ (Black Pete) and it’s not the first time. The same articles are shared (The Guardian’s Black Pete exposes the Netherlands’ problem with race, Associated Press’ ‘Black Pete’, Netherlands Holiday Tradition, Criticized as Racist) the same people rage, the same excuses are made.
Black face. Coarse hair. Big lips. The racist connotations in the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition are obvious. And rather than pointing fingers, blaming and shaming, resenting the past and present, lets just agree to change? Kids could care less if their holiday presents come from Black, Pink, Blue, Green, Red, Yellow or Magenta Pete.
We can’t even give ‘Sinterklaas’ a Civil Rights makeover because his helpers aren’t actually black, that’s just coal shmear, from the chimney! For the record, most Dutch homes don’t even have chimneys anymore [and the houses in Curaçao most certainly don’t.]
That’s the thing about ‘traditions’, they don’t change much over time.
But here we see Sinterklaas in Rhinebeck, NY sans Black Pete…
Everyone is still smiling.
Last year a few awesomely colored Curaçao Petes took to the streets of Willemstad for the first time and my sources tell me they were just as entertaining as their black-faced cousins.
Lets paint the town, Petes.
Orange, Pink, Blue, Red etc is The New Black.