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[20.11.2011]

Blackface

Peter Breedveld

I am as fond of Sinterklaas’ black sidekick Zwarte Piet as the next guy, but the violent and humiliating arrest of protester Quinsy Gario at the reception of Sinterklaas doesn’t sit well with me. I am ashamed to be a citizen of a state that acts so harshly against someone who does nothing more than exercise his right to free speech.

I can fully understand the Curaçao minister Sheldry Osepa’s anger about the mistreatment of Gario, who was arrested for wearing a T-shirt saying that the tradition of Zwarte Piet is racist. Osepa called it a ‘smack in the unpainted face of our black artists’. The clenched and predictable reactions of some of our media and columnists, on the other hand, which are completely devoid of any empathy, give me feelings of vicarious shame. Of course one can angrily discard any argument of those considering the tradition of Zwarte Piet racist, fact is that a great deal of people (i.e the rest of the world) see it as a racist custom. And not entirely without good reason.

Watch this footage in which we see an American reporter dropping her jaw at the sight of a procession of Zwarte Pieten, which she calls a “Million Men March, but in a bad way”. The whole thing reminds her of ‘blackface’, an old American form of entertainment involving a white actor painting his face black and playing the happy little nigger. “You wanna come do that in America?” the reporter asks one of the Zwarte Pieten.

Another American wonders ‘why blackface pickaninny coons still exist in Holland’ on this Internet forum. She fails to understand what is so appealing about a tradition of a ‘pickaninny muslim devil’ scaring the bejesus out of naughty little children.

She is met with the incomprehension of the Dutch forum members, who behave like provincial autistics, so typical of many of my fellow countrymen. Their main concern is the American addressing the issue of Zwarte Piet in summer. Stupid, senseless American, who should have known mentioning anything concerning Sinterklaas, out of season!, is a big fat taboo in Holland!

And of course the Ultimate Argument is brought in, The Argument To End All Arguments, namely that Zwarte Piet is not racist and that is the end of it.

But Zwarte Piet ís racist. The argument that he is black because he crawls through chimneys to bring the children their presents, is an insult to anyone’s intelligence. Soot does not give you kinky hair or big fat nigger lips. Any representation of Zwarte Piet looks like a typical caricature of a black man: thick lips, kinky hair and big, white eyes. When I was a child, there was no beating about the bush either: it was explained to me that Zwarte Piet stood for the Moors who for many centuries formed a threat to Spain, supposedly the home land of Sinterklaas.

That Zwarte Piet’s predecessor was a devil (and in the alpine region Sinterklaas’ helper still is a mix between the devil and the Scandinavian Julbocken, called Krampus) doesn’t really help either. Besides, The Netherlands is rapidly establishing a reputation as a racist country, which is not strange, considering our government openly targets non-western immigrants and has declared as one of its goals to ‘give our beautiful Holland back to the Dutch.’

And it’s not just our government. Racism is firmly embedded in our national spirit. The first reaction of Marck Burema, the chief editor of the highly influential rightwing website GeenStijl, on the arrest of Gario was an article in which Burema called Gario a Zwarte Piet. And when Dutch (and black) singer Giovanca had the incredible courage to tell the press she could understand the resistance against Zwarte Piet, many commenters on the Internet told her to ‘fuck off out of our country’.

Black people who don’t appreciate the Dutch version of the blackface pickaninny coon, are called Zwarte Pieten themselves and are told to fuck off out of our country – but hey! There is nothing racist about Zwarte Piet. Honest Injun.

The Dutch were the last in the world to abolish the slave trade and we are the only ones still enjoying ourselves with blackface. There is a highly popular television programme on Dutch national TV, paid for by tax money, in which the star reporter regularly goes out on the street to make fun of black people. Politicians are in earnest proposing a law which forbids immigrant women wearing headscarves to travel by bus or enter a government building. They are seriously talking about deporting immigrants who want to retain their culture and religion.

Especially in this time of globalization this is outrageous. We are making an international embarrassment of ourselves, as citizens of a backward, racist country. High time Holland pulled its head out of its own ass.

Peter Breedveld is a Dutch journalist who is on top of several black lists of so-called traitors of the Dutch race and culture.

English, Peter Breedveld, 20.11.2011 @ 11:49

 

 

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62 Reacties

op 20 11 2011 at 13:33 schreef Elkerlyc:

The Dutch were last to abolish slavery?

Sorry there but this is simply wrong.

1948: UN Article 4 of the Declaration of Human Rights bans slavery globally
1952: Qatar abolishes slavery
1959: Slavery in Tibet is abolished by China after the Dalai Lama flees.
1960: Niger abolishes slavery
1962: Saudi Arabia abolishes slavery
1962: Yemen abolishes slavery
1963: United Arab Emirates abolishes slavery
1970: Oman abolishes slavery
1981: Mauritania abolishes slavery]

op 20 11 2011 at 13:45 schreef kevin:

Predictable, Peter, that you would translate this article to English. Gathering support from people not from the Netherlands who have no idea what Saint Nicholas is about is so much easier, I guess. I really do not like people from outside of the Netherlands interfering with this tradition. They will probably not understand because they have a different background. If you ask people in the Netherlands about whether Saint Nicholas’ helpers are slaves, most will say no. Nobody here considers it racist. It is not racist. Nobody is trying to be racist. Nobody is endorsing racism through Saint Nicholas’ day.

op 20 11 2011 at 14:04 schreef Peter:

Elkerlyc’s reaction is typical of the right-wing angry white men who do not want to face the fact that their cultural heritage contains the black slave trade and who make it a point that it was The Arabs! and that it is always The Arabs!

But okay, Elkerlyc, you want to rank Holland among the Arab countries holding on to slavery as long as they could, that’s fine with me.

And my apologies for my initial Euro-centric stance, because I was indeed talking about the western civilised countries practicing slave-trade.

How could I forget the Arabs and the other darkies.

op 20 11 2011 at 14:25 schreef Pyt van der Galiën:

@kevin

“nobody here considers it racist”? Oh? I do and i’m from here. Peter does and he’s from here. Actually, plenty of people consider it racist, though admittedly the majority doesn’t.

In fact, quite a few coloured people living in the Netherlands consider it racist. Of course, to racists like Burema, since those people are black, they’re not really Dutch at all.

To quote one of those coloured people: “I used to tell people how much i enjoyed Sinterklaas, while in fact i hated it..”

op 20 11 2011 at 14:51 schreef Yvonne:

America in Blackface: Photos from the Farm Security Administration …
johnedwinmason.typepad.com/…/fsa-blackface-m…

The Netherlands in Blackface:
See:
Afbeeldingen: Zwarte Pieten
Images: Black Peter

op 20 11 2011 at 21:53 schreef Wazzup:

Any reference to blackface is out of context: this ancient Dutch tradition has no intention of creating a stereotyped caricature of a black person. It’s a grave mistake to associate this tradition with the theatrical makeup used in minstrel shows in the States and Britain. On the contrary, the tradition by itself or related literature doesn’t provide any undeviating source that could link it to the civil right movement and its struggle for equality. The only reference is a visual one – as the title of this article states.

Some sources claim that the character of ‘Zwarte Piet’ is slightly Moorish. But hey, then you run into another significant problem: they neither possess black faces nor big red lips. But then on the other hand: if this would be true, and it’s not, then any ‘blackface’ could only be grateful. How many chances do you get in life to punish naughty little white kids, put them inside smelly bags and abduct them to Spain? So stop moaning and bring over the Black Panters to make this year anniversary of the real Santa Claus truly unforgettable.

Otherwise move along, nothing but plain stupidity here.

op 20 11 2011 at 22:13 schreef ikbenhierniet...:

“…who is on top of several black lists…”… Pun intended?

On the content: in some ways, this article hits the mark. There are people who defend the tradition of Zwarte Piet with wrong, or racist, motives. Plenty of examples are given above.

But what I dislike is to lable the tradition itself racist, because for a lot of people, which I presume is a vast majority, it isn’t. To label the tradition racist, seems to me that implicitly people who follow it with the best of motives are given a ‘racist’ lable. Which isn’t exactly fair to them when there isn’t any racist intention, is it?

op 20 11 2011 at 23:41 schreef Fatima:

yeah well talking like an idiot & acting like one is a favourite way of the white adult to act like a black man at least once a year. If only they could just jump a little bit higher & dance right, they would stop their curiosity & act like a man. Ow am I asulting somebody right now? Well I don’t mean to, im just having fun ;~p

op 21 11 2011 at 03:32 schreef Doc:

“Racism is firmly embedded in our national spirit.”

The belief in the existence of a national spirit is a racist one.

op 21 11 2011 at 09:15 schreef Frank:

I agree very much with the article, but must make a correction. I am sorry to say that Holland wasn’t the last country to abolish the slave trade. This odious practice is still practice by governments in Africa and Asia. Countries like Yemen and Sudan still trade in Slaves. Not to long ago a naturalize USA citizen (originally from Egypt) was arrested because she smuggled a child as a slave. The child was abuse and neglected for years until the police was tipped off. As bad as racism in our own cultures may be, slavery is many magnitude worst and we should stop it.

op 21 11 2011 at 09:47 schreef kevin:

Zwarte Piet is not ‘blackface’ as perceived in other countries. Black face is intended to mock black people, but there is no such intention with Zwarte Piet.

op 21 11 2011 at 10:31 schreef hassnae:

If we’re to use such a broad definition of slavery, then surely it still exists in Holland: forced prostitution, the severe exploitation of foreign workers -to name but a few.

op 21 11 2011 at 10:57 schreef Fatima:

Ow no Kevin? well in my childhood they came in the classroom like a bunch of dumb niggers, talking like black people living in Holland but in an exaggerating way. They couldn’t spell, couldn’t even figure out what 1+1 was. yeah we laughed.

op 21 11 2011 at 11:19 schreef kevin:

@Fatima I have never experienced anything like that… Ever. Was that a recent experience?

op 21 11 2011 at 11:20 schreef Otto:

Slavery gets shit done. Without it, man-made wonders of the world like the Pyramids of Gizeh wouldn’t exist.

And Hassnae, you forget to mention the extortion by the Government of taking a substamtial part of people’s hard earned wages (under the threat of severe punishment), and hand it out to people who prefer not to work at all. Like a lot of protesters wearing “Zwarte Piet is racistisch”-t shirts.

op 21 11 2011 at 11:58 schreef babs:

Sint-Nicolas black servent is clearly a leftover from a deeply racist society. Good to know that and a good starting point to teach children about the evils of racism and slavery.

Not a reason to stop a tradition.

If foreigners misunderstand the Dutch traditions, that is their problem. I all the worlds traditions are to be adapted to what the the average American tourist can allow, the world will become a very boring place.

For the people demonstrating against Zwarte Piet, I can not feel sorry. Of course they can demonstrate against Zwarte Piet, but they should not do so at a children’s party. Probably the only reason they chose the children’s party is that so few people in the Netherlands have a serious issue with Zwarte Piet, that no people would turn up at a normal manifestation with the goal to abolish this Dutch tradition.

op 21 11 2011 at 11:59 schreef Pyt van der Galiën:

Actually, historians no longer believe the pyramids were constructed by slaves. It has long been known they were constructed by Egyptian workers (who sometimes were conscripted) and artisans. Sorry to disappoint you, Otto.

Btw, since you seem to admire the institution of slavery so much, I assume you’ll be proposing to reintroduce slavery to build more wonders of the world? We could lower taxes substantially if we’d just reintroduce slavery and let Occupyers and people wearing “Zwarte Piet is racistisch”-shirts work the fields for us, just like in the good old days. Why pay workers when we can use slaves?

op 21 11 2011 at 12:38 schreef Fatima:

No Kevin my childhood is way back. But they probably still do that somewhere in Holland cos its a tradition right, that holly jolly stupid nigger. Well for the places that don’t do that anymore its only a sign that tradition can change for the better. Rainbow Pieten is by far more smarter, even economically. New merchendise, nobody gets offended & they can act dumb & dumber, which is more fun anyways.

op 21 11 2011 at 12:53 schreef Anoniem:

Zwarte Piet – Black Pete – may not be intended to mock black people, it’s certainly meant to frighten children and that’s equally stereotypal.
The fact that the right-wing thinks that children should be protected against the truth and against deviating opinions is on its own reason enough to abolish the tradition. Right-wing has made it impossible to turn the Zwarte Piet tradition in something positive.

op 21 11 2011 at 13:24 schreef Otto:

But what is the difference between conscript workers and slaves, Pyt? But even with the exception of Pyramids, I still maintain that slavery indeed has contributed to our heritage.

Regarding your suggestion of reinstatement of slavery, this may very well be the only way to get these protesters to be somewhat productive.

op 21 11 2011 at 14:48 schreef Pyt van der Galiën:

In a way i actually admire your ruthless solipsism, Otto, as well as your flagrant disregard for the sanctity of other people’s lives and your contempt for human rights. It’s what i’ve come to expect from modern day conservatives.

Not that i’m complaining about that, mind you. There never was something like ‘compassionate conservatism’. Conservatism has always been about planting your boot in the face of the downtrodden. Everything else is just window dressing. You’re one of the very few conservatives who’s honest about it.

op 21 11 2011 at 14:49 schreef Fatima:

Oooou Otto I think those saggy people on top picking their noses or begging for or stealing peoples money through interest, taxes, charity or slavery should get out of their layzy chair & pick some strawberries themselve ;~p

op 21 11 2011 at 15:23 schreef Pyt van der Galiën:

To quote one of the few truly great politicians (and also a true liberal), Abraham Lincoln:

“Whenever I hear any one arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”

op 21 11 2011 at 16:21 schreef Wazzup:

Reintroduce slavery Pyt? There has never been any kind of slavery or even any kind of rigid serfdom inside the domain of what is now defined as the Netherlands (without its colonies), unless you travel back in time to witness the events of the late Roman era.

op 21 11 2011 at 17:00 schreef Twan Knipmans:

Stop whining. Nobody cares.

You’re just another guy trying to spoil the party with your fucking political correctness. Never, never ever did I think of slavery when seeing Zwarte Piet until types like you started whining about it.

Come on man. Let it go. Don’t look for trouble where there is none. There are plenty of other issues in the world to address that [i]are[/i] important. I have nearly always loved reading your posts about those issues, whether I agreed with your position (usually) or not (some times).

This one, I did not enjoy reading. Stop spoiling the party. Please.

op 21 11 2011 at 17:11 schreef Thomas E:

Aren’t we repeating ourselves a bit? I see the same names continuing there discussion in English this time. In fact I was hoping for reactions from abroad. Or from foreigners living in Holland.

op 21 11 2011 at 18:03 schreef Pyt van der Galiën:

@Thomas

Yes, we were repeating ourselves a bit. But we’ve now moved on to a debate about reintroducing slavery. We may have been the last country in Europe to abolish slavery, but we’ll be the first country to reintroduce it! Jan Pieterszoon Coen, genocidal maniac and – no surprise there – national hero, would have been so proud of people like Otto.

op 21 11 2011 at 18:24 schreef Elkerlyc:

[quote=Peter]
Elkerlyc’s reaction is typical of the right-wing angry white men who do not want to face the fact that their cultural heritage contains the black slave trade and who make it a point that it was The Arabs! and that it is always The Arabs!

But okay, Elkerlyc, you want to rank Holland among the Arab countries holding on to slavery as long as they could, that’s fine with me.[/quote]

Peter,

Are you serious?
I am angry and right-wing because you made a serious historical mistake and I point that out to you? You sure I am not a trigger-happy nazi? I mean; if you make up stuff; why not go all the way?

op 21 11 2011 at 19:17 schreef kevin:

@Fatima Zwarte Piet is not stupid and dumb anymore. I have never seen then behave in such a way, nor are they intended to “scare” the kids (says Anon). Kids may be initially frightened, but the message I see there and what tell the children is not to be scared of the unknown — which is totally opposite to the conservative racism you people see there. Zwarte Piet is always very nice and he gives you candy, even if he looks and acts strange.

Well, here is my point: your main criticism is that Zwarte Piet used to behave as a typical ‘blackface': stupid and generally mocking black people. My point is: is the problem with Zwarte Piet even his black face? If he behaves normally and not mocking anyone, what is wrong with the black make-up? Is there anything at all wrong with him being black?

@Otto-repliers: do not feed the troll http://memeblender.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/troll-face-meme-do-not-feed-the-trolls.jpg

op 21 11 2011 at 19:25 schreef Thomas E:

@Pyt

Otto is stirring things up. Come on, he can’t be serious. Don’t put your foot in it ;)

op 21 11 2011 at 20:52 schreef Fatima:

Like I said if a Zwarte Piet can change from Devil, to Moore, to dumb Zwarte Piet, to friendly Zwarte Piet (black slaves were always verry polite & nice btw, he had to otherwise they would whoop his ass) what is the problem him changing in a rainbow Piet if some black members of the Dutch community are offended? What is seriously wrong with a rainbow Piet? Santa has elfes does that make a party less more fun? No it’s the white grownup that is affraid blacks get a say in what they think is their tradition. If Rosa Parks stood up for a white guy, blacks would probably still be sitting in the back of the bus. Somebody has got to be the first & yeah this is repeating stuff. So Dutch people with more question on this issue to me better read my replies on the Dutch page I think ive said it all by now lol ;~)

op 21 11 2011 at 21:15 schreef Yvonne:

@Kevin

“Well, here is my point: your main criticism is that Zwarte Piet used to behave as a typical ‘blackface’: stupid and generally mocking black people. My point is: is the problem with Zwarte Piet even his black face? If he behaves normally and not mocking anyone, what is wrong with the black make-up? Is there anything at all wrong with him being black?”

Contemporary Black Peter is a caricature of a black person.

op 22 11 2011 at 10:28 schreef kevin:

@Fatima Why does he have to change skin color? What does it matter that he is black? I am just saying: why are people who say they are against racism making so much fuss about the color of Zwarte Piet’s skin? If you do not believe me that where I live Zwarte Piet is already behaving nicely and not like a typical dumb ‘blackface’, please suppose that Zwarte Piet acted normal. Not dumb, not mocking black people, just dressed up as he is now and with black make-up on. What would then be the problem?

@Yvonne Zwarte Piet is not a caricature of a black person, but a caricature who is also black. Why are you making this into something about race? It wasn’t until the hysteric anti-racism movement in the US heard about our traditions and didn’t bother to step outside their American frame of reference. As someone else said: if the whole world has to change to what the average American tourist would allow, the world would be a very boring place indeed.

op 22 11 2011 at 11:48 schreef Fatima:

Maybe cos the black community don’t like their color to be an anual issue, or a reminder that their history was actually that of the blacks as slaves of the white man. They have their own rememberence of that period and I don’t think they do that by rolplaying it with laughter and joy.
Im not black. If the black community is happy about it well I probably wouldn’t even bother to drop my opinion. Im now just supporting people who I think have the right to be angry.

op 22 11 2011 at 11:48 schreef Yvonne:

While there were always people, black and white, who individually protested against the celebration, the protest got organised in1995 by a group of second and third generation migrants. Contrary to their parents or grandparents they are born in the Netherlands, not limited by the idea that they are “guests”, having to conform to the symbols of a “host” which they find insulting. They are part of a generation of people that demands a place in Dutch society much more forcefully. Because of their input the discussion became a national one in 1996 in the sense that it was being discussed on television, in newspapers and schools.

The critics of Black Pete were repeatedly confronted with the argument that ‘they’ did not have the right to critique ‘Dutch tradition’ because they weren’t ‘Dutch’. The discussion was being polarised as if the different opinions were divided along ‘racial’ lines. The argument is as follows: as an ‘allochtoon’, a ‘migrant’, one has to accept the Dutch ‘traditions’. Just as a ‘Dutch’ person would have to accept local traditions when they lived in ‘another’ country. The logic here is that it’s not their country and culture that the youngsters are criticizing.

op 22 11 2011 at 11:52 schreef Yvonne:

By ascribing second-rate citizenship to the critics who aren’t considered “Dutch”, the authority of the speaker is undermined. On the other hand when it appears that the critic is white, he or she is often being marginalized as being “political correct”, which is used as a contemptuous term. The letters in the newspapers and on the internet were in general very emotional, reflecting a fear that ‘Dutch’ culture is being ‘threatened’ by ‘foreigners’ The main arguments were:

The holiday is a celebration for children and children aren’t racist.
It’s a matter of ‘tradition’ (that certainly can’t be changed by ‘Foreigners’).
The critics are the ones who make it racist.

The refusal to listen to counter-arguments and reply those with substantial criticism (in stead of ridiculing or marginalizing them) reflects an insensibility for the opinion of a minority. The portrayed image of the Netherlands as being “the most tolerant nation in the world” makes a critical self-reflection also very difficult: every accusation of racism is beforehand answered with denial.

Question of the Month Who is Black Peter?
http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/question/jan05

op 22 11 2011 at 14:39 schreef kevin:

@Yvonne That is such a straw man argument. You are generalizing every proponent of Zwarte Piet as a racist, saying all their arguments are inherently racist, saying they ‘refuse to listen’, saying they ridicule and marginalize opponents of Zwarte Piet.

Where have you seen me do anything like that? I am your honest debater and not a racist in denial. I have arguments and I want to debate you. Why aren’t you debating with arguments, but instead telling me what I am thinking so you can attack it?

I am not ascribing second-rate citizenship to anyone. I am not saying people are “politically correct” in a derogatory sense. I am not putting all critics of Zwarte Piet away as foreigners meddling with Dutch tradition. I am not saying an ‘allochtoon’ has to accept all Dutch traditions. All that is your interpretation and yours alone. Do not tell me or any other debater what they are thinking. You are putting words in my mouth.

We shouldn’t listen to a small minority shouting racism WHERE THERE IS NONE.

op 22 11 2011 at 16:14 schreef Dee:

Kevins reply to Yvonne “Zwarte Piet is not a caricature of a black person, but a caricature who is also black” I don’t understand why you then oppose the idea of rainbow colored Pieten. As you pointed out the issue is neither color nor racial features…at least not for you and a big part of the Dutch community. But you can’t close your eyes for the fact that Zwarte piet makes a lot of people (both black and non-black) uncomfortable. Isn’t Sinterklaas supposed to be a festive occassion and fun for everyone? How can it be fun if part of the people feel offended because of Zwarte Piet (make-up, behavior, what have you), and the rest feel offended because the people who express their dislike of the zwarte piet concept ruin their children’s party or even worse ruin part of “their” culture

op 22 11 2011 at 16:18 schreef Sasha Berkman:

Dee, it goes even further, some people (PVV-scumbags) realy liked it the way cops beated up the non-violent protesters whose only crime was wearing a tshirt the cops did not like. I am wondering who actualy is spoiling the fun: the protesters or the scumbag-policemen and their supporters.

op 22 11 2011 at 18:10 schreef Wichard:

Debating about Zwarte Piet being racism is creating a problem that doesn’t exist.

In that way, Sinterklaas as childrens friend with all the children on his lap is just as wrong.

So.

Why not just let the kids have a wonderful party and debate about issues that matter?

Like: Abusing a childrens party with political protest is SO wrong. Glad the police did something or else next year everybody comes protesting during this festival.
Why not use one of the 999999 other possibilities of outing your freedom of speech?

op 22 11 2011 at 18:21 schreef Wim Paardeslaeger:

Peter is reaction to elkerlyc is typical for the born again leftie who cannot stand the fact that facts fail to agree with his view of how things should be.

op 22 11 2011 at 19:11 schreef Fatima:

“Debating about Zwarte Piet being racism is creating a problem that doesn’t exist” lol
Yeah that was probably what Hitler was thinking too at one point. Ow is that a Godwin? My my my as if I give a shhh
Or this guy from who was billed by a policeman for driving without his seatbelt on. He couldnt believe they did that to him cos he was from the chivalry.
Some people should take it over from Zwarte Piet cos they are just too funny to be taken serious.

op 22 11 2011 at 22:41 schreef Sasha Berkman:

“Debating about Zwarte Piet being racism is creating a problem that doesn’t exist.”

Yeah, it doent remind me on the problems Geert Wilders is talking about at all ;0

http://www.gva.be/nieuws/buitenland/aid1093540/verontwaardiging-over-brutale-politieoptreden-tegen-amerikaans-occupy-protest-video.aspx

op 23 11 2011 at 09:39 schreef kevin:

@Sasha Zwarte Piet has been around a long time before Geert Wilders was even born.

op 23 11 2011 at 09:59 schreef kevin:

@Dee “I don’t understand why you then oppose the idea of rainbow colored Pieten.”

Because that would imply there WAS something racist about the black ones after all, which is not the case any more. By changing Zwarte Piet’s skin, we would be conceding that a black Zwarte Piet is racist, which, by itself, it isn’t. Zwarte Piet is just black, that is the way he is. There should be no problem.

I have no problem with him being black. I wouldn’t have a problem with him being white, either, or with any other color for that matter. But he isn’t rainbow colored, he’s black. To change his color would be to say we care at all about the color of his skin, which I do not. To not care is the purest anti-racism I can think of, so I do not see why people who say they oppose racism are opposed to Zwarte Piet.

What is wrong with Zwarte Piet being black? What is wrong with ANYONE being black?

op 23 11 2011 at 14:40 schreef Sasha Berkman:

kevin: yes, but its only recent police beats up and arrests people for wearing a t-thirt they dont like.

op 23 11 2011 at 14:41 schreef Pickelhaube:

So I have a question: could zwarte Piet be considered to be a fascist, since he carries an instrument called the roede, being a bundle of twigs, exactly like the ‘fasces’, primary symbol of Italian fascism?

Obviously not, but I applied the exact same faulty logic that was used in denouncing zwarte Piet.

op 23 11 2011 at 15:15 schreef Peter:

Pickelhaube’s argument is the dumbest I’ve seen so far in this debate. A bundle of twigs is not necessarily the symbol of Italian fascism, it may just look like one.

But a guy painting his face black and dressing up like an old-fashioned caricature of a black man, complete with nigger-lips and kinky hair is a guy painting his face black and dressing up like an old-fashioned caricature of a black man, complete with nigger-lips and kinky hair.

op 23 11 2011 at 15:37 schreef kevin:

@Sasha I don’t like Geert Wilders, but you can’t attribute this police brutality to him.

op 23 11 2011 at 15:45 schreef Wazzup:

Gee, of course does the visual reference originate from a racial perspective – a 500 year old perspective. When northerners thought that Moors looked like Negroes and they were all involved in the the pillaging, looting and burning of Spanish coastal towns. The caricature of the Moor represented a projection, the devilish attitude of the non-christian, and became popular in the nations of the ‘Holey Alliance’. After the death of emperor Charles V the Spanish took this custom along to the Low Countries where it survived as folklore.

Over the centuries this link faded and the character of ‘Zwarte Piet’ was restricted to assist St. Nicolas in rewarding good and punishing bad behaviour. So what’s the buzz?

op 23 11 2011 at 16:37 schreef Pickelhaube:

You make it seem so clear cut.

But you selected just a part of his appearance to suit your argument, Peter. His 16th century clothing (that isn’t typical for slaves but in fact quit luxurious), and of course the bag he uses to take the naughty children away do not at all refer to some kind of typical blackface. The ‘bag theme’ can also be found in France (Père Fouettard and even in the -predominantly black- island of Haiti, where he is known as the Tonton Macoute).

What this shows is that zwarte Piet’s appearance cannot be reduced to some kind of typical racist blackface, but that his persona was shaped by a wide variety of folkoristic traditions merging. Just calling it a blackface is simplistic.

So yeah.. to you it may look like a blackface, but that’s selective perception at work.

op 23 11 2011 at 17:13 schreef Peter:

No, no, no. Blackface is not Blackface because he puts naughty children in a sack or because he wears 16th century clothing. Blackface is Blackface because he is a white man with a black painted face to suggest he’s a happy little nigger.

Same as Zwarte Piet. And while Blackface does nothing but dance and be happy and is perhaps a little mischievous, Zwarte Piet PUTS CHILDREN IN HIS SACK! He is a SCARY nigger, besides being a typical caricature of a black man.

So we have it established now, Pickelhaube and I, that Zwarte Piet is even WORSE than Blackface.

op 23 11 2011 at 17:50 schreef Fatima:

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it could be a white man doing a duck impersonation

op 23 11 2011 at 17:57 schreef kevin:

Peter, do you not see that they are different? A blackface is meant to mock black people. Zwarte Piet is not.

op 23 11 2011 at 19:16 schreef Pickelhaube:

Two notions:

1) The meaning of a cultural “Gestalt” changes throughout history. For example Jesus, or the Fool as described by Foucault in his Madness and Civilization

Not too long ago we probably did have notions about zwarte Piet that would presently be considered racist, but right now we don’t see it like that anymore. A fine example of how this context changes over time, is presented by Sjors en Sjimmie, who are nowadays depicted, very differently

2) Zwarte Piet’s appearance is compounded of several elements that bear no relationship with race at all. Or they do have a relationship with race, but don’t have their origin in some kind of slave/master relationhip between blacks and whites, like in the USA.

He is one of the variations of the sack man.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sack_Man#Sack_Man

op 24 11 2011 at 18:15 schreef Yvonne:

Pickelhaube loves fairy tales

op 25 11 2011 at 19:00 schreef You On A Gin:

As most nations coming to pass during the history of the world, The Netherlands undeniably gathered a substantial record showing a dark past concerning slavery, colonisation and other traits involving exploitation of fellow human beings. These wrongdoings has inherited us with a certain responsibility.
Recent discussions concerning depictions of slavery on the Gold State Coach are another example of an issue still very alive to this day. And rightly so.

However, I choose to focus on the fact that slavery (in different gradations) still exists in numerous parts of the world. Saint Nicks and Black Pete are not things I get my pants up in a tissy about.

op 25 11 2011 at 19:04 schreef Peter:

Which is not at all surprising, since you didn’t see anything racist about people calling Moroccans ‘Rif Monkeys’ either.

op 25 11 2011 at 22:16 schreef Sasha Berkman:

Yeah there is slavery in other parts of the world and thats a disgrace. Our wealth is here because we used to be big in this bussiness once, its based on exploitation but we find a anti-slavery monument realy bullshit in our own country. If black people are beaten up and arrested bij racist, fascist cops, thats a good thing because santa claus is not a symbol of racism, its a childerens party, for gods sake!

YoaG is a total hypocryt.

op 05 12 2011 at 22:35 schreef You On A Gin:

No, you’re just dumb.

op 15 11 2012 at 05:36 schreef Rock Cohen:

Albeit I agree with the general idea behind your article, I’d like to point out that

1) The Netherlands was late abolishing the slave trade (1863), but certainly not the last in the world, ie Portugal (1869), France (1899) and some less relevant others even later.

2) Geenstijl.nl has meanwhile clearly spoken out against Zwarte Piet, on grounds of being racist. Granted this was done by Matthijs van den Beukel aka “Johnny Quid” and not Marck Burema aka “Pritt Stift”.

But keep in mind that Marck is of the the previous generation, he’s a bit of an older geezer now. It gives hope that exactly of all Geenstijl.nl columnists it was Matthijs spoke out against the racism of Zwarte Piet.

This is the new generation that has a different mindset. Marck aka Pritt Stift can best be described as a guy who is just the ultimate example of a privileged-white-male-turned-angry-old-man, who has no conception at all of what “racism” actually really means since it is so far away from his own frame of reference, and is too lazy or disinterested to try and really understand.

Albeit too slowly, I do see signs of progress in Holland. The group of people speaking out against Zwarte Piet grows every year

op 16 11 2012 at 20:07 schreef Zwarte Piet: A Racist Caricature? | Anthro meaning People, Dope meaning Awesome:

[...] is another article explaining the situation: http://www.frontaalnaakt.nl/archives/blackface.html Like this:LikeBe the first to like [...]

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