Black Peets

News of: Tuesday, October 22 2013,

United Nations investigate Sinterklaas tradition - is it racism?

Just as traditional as the yearly Sinterklaas party, it has become tradition to discuss the role of Sinterklaas's helpers, the 'Zwarte Pieten' ('Black Peets').

Much like Santaclaus in the US and other countries, Sinterklaas is a children's fest, held very year on December 5. Children get presents, and are told the story that Sinterklaas comes from Spain, on a steamboat. And with a lot of black helpers (Zwarte Pieten) to help distribute the presents and with a lot of other tasks.

Since a number of years, (particularly) black people in the Netherlands have complained about the discriminatory and racist nature of the Zwarte Piet character. Zwarte Pieten traditionally are only helpers (reflecting the white-black hierarchy from slavery times), and they act like clowns, ordinarily not too smart.

This year too, the debate started about the Zwarte Pieten. A new development is that the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations has launched an investigation into the question whether 'Zwarte Piet' is a racist stereotype. The committee notes that an application by the Netherlands to place the Sinterklaas tradition on the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list may be jeopardized. To date, the Netherlands have not yet submitted such an application.

The traditional yearly Sinterklaas parade in Amsterdam will be held on Sunday November 17. This will attract thousands of children and their (grand) parents.

Black Peets

Black Peets

Sinterklaas

Sinterklaas

Black Peets (Zwarte Pieten)

Black Peets (Zwarte Pieten)