For the Netherlands most people think of a liberal drugs and health policy. The Dutch society has a reputation for being open, tolerant and diverse. That the Netherlands has abolished as one of the last European countries the enslavement of peopleand that until 2010, several overseas territories belonged directly to the Netherlands, has not stick to the minds of people.
Even less is known in Germany, as direct neighbors, that from mid-November in the Netherlands, parts of Belgium and Luxembourg, a “sacred” holiday season begins, holding until the evening of December 5:
The arrival of Santa Claus, in Dutch Sinterklaas, which is celebrated with big parades, gifts and costumes. But Sinterklaas comes not alone but with an accompanied assistant, similar to that known in this country Bogeyman. This assistant is clumsy, goofy, childlike, speaks grammatically incorrect and is Black. Rather, it is represented by white people in blackface, Afro Wig, gold earrings and bulky ancient costumes of velvet that roam the city and for the entire period to December 5, on television, in shop windows, schools, virtually anywhere dominate the pre-Christmas public life: this is Zwarte Piet: Black Peter. The Dutch people paint their children in this manner and dress them up. The children love the figure of the malign, clumsy servant who carries and distributes the gifts for Sinterklaas.
Zwarte Piet is thus a cult figure – known in the Netherlands by young and old. He reproduced, seen only rarely so openly, in a deeply racist manner the stereotypes about Black people. Almost every Child of Color was called Zwarte Piet. When children see Black People they scream: Zwarte Piet!
Protests and voices against this racist depiction of Black people are there for decades. For several years, they are louder and press also out of the netherlands. A working group at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights criticized he Sinterklaas celebrations in 2013 as discriminatory.
In July 2014, the Administrative Court in Amsterdam and the National Human Rights Committee confirmed that the presentation of Zwarte Piet is racist.
But the Dutch hold on to this tradition, as if they were deprived of their entire identity. A popular argument is the fact that it is primarily a children’s party. But children should be exposed to the image of the submissive, stupid Black Person and superior white man and take it along with cookies and milk?
Black people are reduced, caricatured and grow up with that image, that each year is associated with the images, songs inseparable from a children’s actually so joyful time. Peaceful protests in recent years as well as this year in Gouda were sometimes violently dispersed and protesters have been arrested. Who was staying only in Gouda’s city center and is Black, was questioned and checked. People who wore open sweater with a logo aganst Zwarte Piet were arrested directly. Even neo-Nazis came in groups to the marketplace in Gouda. The police arrested an anti-Zwarte Piet Protester violently before running Kameras.³
The ISD condemned the racist character of Zwarte Piet and inhuman caricature of Black people, which is thereby already exemplified children. Children can not choose whether they want to be exposed to racist traditions. Adults can! The ISD solidarity with the Dutch groups and initiatives against the figure of Zwarte Piet.
STOP blackface! NOW!