Race Matters

Zwarte Piet Parade (Gallery)

[gallery link="file" ids="139,148,138,149,171,137"]

Photo Credit: Rachel Sato-Banks

Zwarte Piet, also known as Black Pete, first appeared in Dutch and Belgian folklore in the 1850s. Since then he has become a firm fixture in Dutch Christmas culture, with white people putting on black make-up and donning Afro wigs to impersonate Sinterklass' (Saint Nicholas) most famous servant.

Every December there are debates over whether Zwarte Piet is a racist caricature of black people, which blithely ignore the Netherlands' role in the slave trade. This comes against cries of  Zwarte Piet being an important part of Dutch culture, who is not racist.

In 2013, the anti-Zwarte Piet sentiment reached an all time high when the Dutch government received a document from the UN's high commission on human rights stating that the Zwarte Piet practice could infringe upon human rights. This came after Sinterklass was rejected from the UNESCO Intangible cultural heritage list, partly due to Zwarte Piet.

What do you think of Zwarte Piet? What are other cultural practices do you think are similar?
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