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'Black Pete' character sparks clashes in the Netherlands


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Rival protesters have clashed in the Netherlands over traditional pre-Christmas celebrations that involve a character in "blackface" make-up.

Unrest occurred in several towns where annual festivals have been taking place to welcome the arrival of Sinterklaas, a Dutch figure said to be the origin of Santa Claus.

A row has been ongoing in the country over the last couple of years over the use of performers in the celebrations who blacken their faces to play Sinterklaas's assistant called Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete.

Police in Rotterdam tweeted to say they had arrested three people, as those calling for Black Pete to be abolished clashed with traditionalists.

In the northern city of Leeuwarden, officers said they stopped "two groups getting into a fight".

Police also separated groups to prevent a confrontation in nearby Groningen, and De Telegraaf newspaper reported on confrontations in several other towns.

Witnesses described "fighting", "chaos", "abuse" and eggs being thrown.

Football supporters of some of the Netherlands' biggest clubs were among those involved, the paper said, along with the anti-Islam group Pegida.

In other locations, police and marshals were used to keep the anti-Pete protesters away from the parades.

 

Prime minister Mark Rutte had appealed for calm on Friday, saying: "I think society agrees on one thing: we grant children the magic of the Sinterklaas party."

In Zaandijk, north of Amsterdam, where the parade was televised, a boat carrying Sinterklaas sailed into the harbour accompanied by dozens of Black Petes, their faces painted in varying shades.

Thousands of youngsters, many wearing traditional costumes, lined the streets with their parents and grabbed sweets being handed out.

Every November, Dutch towns hold the popular parades, symbolising the arrival of Sinterklaas by boat, at which Zwarte Piets throw gingerbread to the crowd.

Sinterklaas is based on the 4th century religious figure St Nicholas, who Dutch legend says passed through Netherlands on his way to Spain, from where he returns annually.

The origins of the Zwarte Piet character are disputed, but theories claim they may relate to medieval depictions of St Nicholas being helped by the devil, the saint having an assistant who would take bad children back to Spain, and that assistant being a Moor.

 

sinterklaas-zwarte-piet.jpg

 

This is going over the top now, the clashes started a few years ago when some American Journalist saw the event on youtube and made a piece about it as a slave story, claiming the Dutch are racist.    It has just gone on from there with many protests to stop people dressing up as Black Piet, it has always been going on for years, as it is for Children and such a nice event, which is now getting ruined by some people wanting to change history.

Spain will probably also have the same problem on their Kings day which involves dressing up as the 3 kings and one of those is black,  not sure if @SirBalon could tell more.

 

Edited by Panna King
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The Three Kings which is celebrated on the 6th of January (La Epifanía - The Epiphany) and in Catholic countries is the main day when the big Christmas gifts are offered to children. The 25th is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and has only included gifts in recent history with the advent of Santa Claus (Father Christmas thanks to Coca-Cola).

The names of the Three Kings that travel to see the birth of The Messiah were Balthasar, Melchior and Gaspar with Balthasar being the black member of the party.

There have been small rumblings in recent years to stop the depiction of the black member of the Three Kings but most people in Spain don’t see racism in historical events or what are perceived as historical events with the situation revolving a person who was actually supposed to black.

I really really do not see where the issue is here unless it in some way paints a race as inferior. I don’t know enough about the Black Pete story to comment to be honest abmbd the article is very brief centering more on a basic knowledge of the story and more in reaction. 

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4 minutes ago, SirBalon said:

The Three Kings which is celebrated on the 6th of January (La Epifanía - The Epiphany) and in Catholic countries is the main day when the big Christmas gifts are offered to children. The 25th is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and has only included gifts in recent history with the advent of Santa Claus (Father Christmas thanks to Coca-Cola).

The names of the Three Kings that travel to see the birth of The Messiah were Balthasar, Melchior and Gaspar with Balthasar being the black member of the party.

There have been small rumblings in recent years to stop the depiction of the black member of the Three Kings but most people in Spain don’t see racism in historical events or what are perceived as historical events with the situation revolving a person who was actually supposed to black.

I really really do not see where the issue is here unless it in some way paints a race as inferior. I don’t know enough about the Black Pete story to comment to be honest abmbd the article is very brief centering more on a basic knowledge of the story and more in reaction. 

Well Sinterklaas is a Spanish/Dutch Story which is based on a true story about a Bishop that used to arrive in the Netherlands and he came with black helpers from Africa who used to give gifts out.    I know Van Nistelrooy dressed up once as the black king in Spain to give presents at a Madrid hospital, he was labelled a racist by a number of people. 

 

Ruud-Van-Nistelrooy-Blacking-Up-3.jpg

Edited by Panna King
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1 minute ago, Panna King said:

Well Sinterklaas is a Spanish/Dutch Story which is based on a true story about a Bishop that used to arrive in the Netherlands and he came with black helpers from Africa who used to give gifts out.    I know Van Nistelrooy dressed up once as the black king in Spain to give presents at a Madrid hospital, he was labelled a racist by a number of people. 

 

Ruud-Van-Nistelrooy-Blacking-Up-3.jpg

Who labelled him racist?  He was dressing up as the black member of the three kings, Melchior. 

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People have to try and see things from the other point of view, on both sides but people deliberately do not.

Blackface is historically symbolic of mockery and repression, it's been used for centuries as something which depicts black people as figures of fun and to be laughed at. Seeing any white person 'black up', no matter what defence, is going to bring about those connotations

On the other side, here we have a seemingly innocuous tradition that has no malice or ill thought behind it, merely trying to represent an African man. Personally I'd be cautious with any 'blacking up', no matter what context but t I don't see the sense in banning something which is a local tradition (if that's what is) especially if it's enjoyed by a small minority of people. I'd question if this is such an inclusive event if they cannot find a black person to do the portrayal though.

Edited by The Artful Dodger
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19 minutes ago, SirBalon said:

Who labelled him racist?  He was dressing up as the black member of the three kings, Melchior. 

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Ruud Van Nistelrooy has sparked controversy after 'blacking-up' for a Spanish parade.The former Manchester United striker was taking part in the Parade of the Three Kings in Spain, where he visited a hospital and gave presents to staff and patients.

Anti-racism campaigners in Spain and the Netherlands were celebrating on Thursday after two long-criticised traditions involving white faces being painted black were abolished.

In Madrid, authorities promised to find a black person to play the role of Balthazar in this year’s post-Christmas three kings cavalcade, putting an end to a nearly four-decade tradition for the city’s biggest street parade.

“This change is much more than just anecdotal,” Socialist city councillor Mar Espinar said on Wednesday. Her party has spent years championing changes to the event. “Given the increasingly large community of colour in our city, it seems absurd that this role continues to be represented by a person with their face blackened.”

In recent years, various groups across Spain have joined in the push for change, including the more than 60,000 people who signed a petition last year urging Madrid city council to drop the practice. “It is senseless and unnecessary in this day and age for king Balthazar to be a white man painted black,” argued the petition.

Over in the Dutch capital of The Hague meanwhile, the education board said elementary schools would no longer use Santa helpers with painted black faces, another holiday tradition that had caused considerable offence.

The move, which came after the United Nations called last month for the “Black Pete” practice to be modified to avoid reflecting negative stereotypes, is the broadest measure against the practice, and will affect more than 160 schools, Reuters reported.

A majority of Dutch people reject any suggestion that Black Pete, typically played by white people in blackface, is racist. But many others disagree. Starting this year, schools in The Hague will begin phasing out the use of blackface, curly hair wigs and red painted lips, with the changes to be completed within three years. They will be replaced with visually neutral Santa servants.

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Panna King said:

 

There probably was a minority of people trying to bring misery on a celebration that’s for children done all over Spain. It’s the main day of Christmas for children.

How it can be called racism is absolutely astounding. They should be ashamed of showing such a lack of intelligence. 

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1 minute ago, SirBalon said:

There probably was a minority of people trying to bring misery on a celebration that’s for children done all over Spain. It’s the main day of Christmas for children.

How it can be called racism is absolutely astounding. They should be ashamed of showing such a lack of intelligence. 

Its the people who live outside the country who see the footage and automatically they say racist, without even knowing what it is about,  Sinterklaas for example is even celebrated in the Caribbean islands that belong to The Netherlands, even Surinam celebrate it in South America.  

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There might not always be racist intent but the dodgy racial stereotypes in it should be enough to set anyone's alarm bells off.

Remember the children's ombundsmen in the Netherlands received death threats for producing a report containing interview evidence that said racism against black children increases around Sinterklaas.

In 2018 you can't just bury that under so called "tradition"

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1 minute ago, Harvsky said:

There might not always be racist intent but the dodgy racial stereotypes in it should be enough to set anyone's alarm bells off.

Remember the children's ombundsmen in the Netherlands received death threats for producing a report containing interview evidence that said racism against black children increases around Sinterklaas.

In 2018 you can't just bury that under so called "tradition"

That of course has been going on for years, alot of the Surinamese were called Black Pete at school going back to the 1970s in The Netherlands.  

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I remember being in Amsterdam around early December 2007 and being astounded to see this on television. My friend was working for an American firm in the Netherlands and when he invited me over he said (I’m paraphrasing from memory so this isn’t verbatim) “you won’t believe some of the things that go on over here, white guys blacking up and acting like dumb asses”. 

My problem is this, it feels like an anachronism of bygone colonial times. White imperial countries bemoaning cultural offence without fully taking onboard that it’s 2018. As stated here, blacking up was slave mockery. Britain in particular has struggled with revisionist history over Gollywogs. “They used to be on Jam jars, it’s not racist”

Just because time has diluted the reasoning (Or buried it) behind some cultural activities does not mean its just lefties getting offended unnecessarily. 

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35 minutes ago, BartraPique1932 said:

What racial stereotype? That all blacks have a black face? You think that some blacks are not black?

The donning of afro's, earrings, the painting of lips bright red and the use of jet black is a negative stereotype from colonial period art when blacks were considered inferior and the subject of mockery.

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20 minutes ago, Harvsky said:

The donning of afro's, earrings, the painting of lips bright red and the use of jet black is a negative stereotype from colonial period art when blacks were considered inferior and the subject of mockery.

I've seen plenty Zwarte Piets with neither jet black faces, earrings, nor red lips. Please stop spreading false stereotypes.

img-131118-197.onlineBild.jpg

Edited by BartraPique1932
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I think the issue is that the blackface tries to imply that all black people look the same, and its origin wasn't exactly to portray the beauty of black people but to descriminate them in the most visible way possible.

Most people literally cannot imagine why this can hit a nerve because objectification only works against the disempowered.

I wouldn't do it and don't agree with it but I would also not forbid it. Cosplay as you wish but be aware of what it means and be prepared for people to call you a cunt.

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23 minutes ago, BartraPique1932 said:

I've seen plenty Zwarte Piets with neither jet black faces, earrings, nor red lips. Please stop spreading false stereotypes.

img-131118-197.onlineBild.jpg

Some people changed the story, saying it was soot on their face from the chimney and not a black person, so it didnt offend people. 

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18 minutes ago, BartraPique1932 said:

I've seen plenty Zwarte Piets with neither jet black faces, earrings, nor red lips. Please stop spreading false stereotypes.

img-131118-197.onlineBild.jpg

That one's not exactly better. Pretending to be a black person by making your face look dirty is another iffy colonial stereotype. 

Realistically this humiliating fancy dress should long have been dropped by any community that became racially diverse. 

The fact that people get abused and bullied by being called Zwarte Piet is proof enough that it isn't a positive image of black people.

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9 minutes ago, Harvsky said:

That one's not exactly better. Pretending to be a black person by making your face look dirty is another iffy colonial stereotype. 

Realistically this humiliating fancy dress should long have been dropped by any community that became racially diverse. 

The fact that people get abused and bullied by being called Zwarte Piet is proof enough that it isn't a positive image of black people.

Its a small minority that abuse people, if it was seen as racist, the Caribbean wouldn't celebrate it and nor would Surinam.  Plus if people actually know the true story about it, it is nothing to do with Racism, apart from judging something from looking in from the outside. The actual people whp protest about it in Netherlands at the moment, are mostly people from outside the country, white English and Americans.

 

 

Edited by Panna King
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2 minutes ago, Panna King said:

Its a very small minority that abuse people, if it was seen as racist, the Caribbean wouldn't celebrate it and nor would Surinam.  Plus if people actually know the true story about it, it is nothing to do with Racism, apart from judging something from looking in from the outside. The actual people whp protest about it in Netherlands at the moment, are mostly people from outside the country, white English and Americans.

 

Where are all the protests in Surinam about it?

What I will put to you is this. If you want to keep the tradition then how do you propose to disable the negative stereotyping and discrimination that descends from the act? You admitted that it exists so why is it ok to just say so what? Isn't it in Amsterdam where they introduced black and white stripes on the face instead.

The point of dropping it is not because everyone is a racist and being racist, it's because racism from it can't be controlled. People in Surinam don't need to protest when they are the majority in ascendancy there and not on the end of either actual abuse or hidden racial prejudices in their daily life.

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31 minutes ago, Harvsky said:

What I will put to you is this. If you want to keep the tradition then how do you propose to disable the negative stereotyping and discrimination that descends from the act? You admitted that it exists so why is it ok to just say so what? Isn't it in Amsterdam where they introduced black and white stripes on the face instead.

The point of dropping it is not because everyone is a racist and being racist, it's because racism from it can't be controlled. People in Surinam don't need to protest when they are the majority in ascendancy there and not on the end of either actual abuse or hidden racial prejudices in their daily life.

Yes people do get called black Pete but what is the difference calling someone who is black with dreadlocks Ruud Gullit or Edgar Davids etc, name calling goes on through the world at schools, that means every Black character should be banned?  because of people getting offended so we have to start deleting parts of history. 

Never heard about the Black and white face paint but they encouraged people to use different coloured face paint like Purple or any other colour, the Prime minister said  it will remain a celebration.

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This Black Pete thing seems to be very different to the celebration of the Epiphany. From what I'm reading in some cases (which might possibly be a very big minority) it's being used as a racial slur in the sense of making humour of black characteristics.

The case with Ruud van Nistelrooy in Spain dressing up as one of the Three Kings and getting called a racist is ridiculous.  One of the Three Kings (in the scriptures) was in actual fact black and the Epiphany celebrates the part of Christmas that is giving gifts. Which the Three Kings go down every main high street of every village, town and city in Spain giving gifts to children.  Are they meant to omit the black King? Hmmm... Or go out and find a black person to represent the black King?  In a country that has I think the lowest percentage of black inhabitants in Europe?  In major Spanish cities black people should represent the black character without a doubt and there's no excuse for that as black people are there.

It's a sad state of affairs when people are accused of being racist when they obviously aren't but it's sadder when people take it upon themselves to support those who accuse as some sense of righteousness. 

I saw a really sad thing today when Theresa May called Europeans queue dodgers (jumpers) and all the connotations that come with that... Can we safely say that Theresa May is a Euro xenophobe?... Don't know, but we can definitely point a pretty finger at continuing to be active high profile individuals of the government that leave absolutely no doubt whatsoever that they are.  THAT IS MORE SERIOUS than Black Pete.

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I don't know enough about the Zwarte Piet to comment on.

Regarding Baltasar (not Melchior, @SirBalon)

Tradition "otherize" all three kings as "oriental"/"non-western". One of them as black person. While I find black face as rather cringy, particularly in parades where you may be able to find someone at ease who doesn't need "black paint", the point would remain the same in both cases...

That is, regarding the custom of a blackface or a black person playing the part of someone explicitly "foreigner", would it not perpetuate the notion of blacks as foreigners/aliens either way? While it is certainly less ridiculous having an actual black to play the part, it is not more deeply "inclusive" in nature, because the three kings are supposed to be what they are supposed to be: rich foreigners from afar bringing you gifts...

I simply do not care that much, to be honest, but I suspect that bringing actual blacks to play the part of someone who is supposed to actually be part of the community, is more inclusive than focusing on a black playing the exotic part of a foreigner instead of a black face. Or just drop the tradition of foreigners bringing you presents altogether and screw those kids... because in the end the problem is not the black face, but black people not belonging to the community and coming from the Far East (and south) ??

 

Edited by Kowabunga
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12 hours ago, Panna King said:

Yes people do get called black Pete but what is the difference calling someone who is black with dreadlocks Ruud Gullit or Edgar Davids etc, name calling goes on through the world at schools, that means every Black character should be banned?  because of people getting offended so we have to start deleting parts of history. 

Never heard about the Black and white face paint but they encouraged people to use different coloured face paint like Purple or any other colour, the Prime minister said  it will remain a celebration.

If you are saying someone looks like Edgar Davids you are either making an observation or racially/religiously mocking them. If the latter then the question becomes how is that a tool for humiliation? How can you debilitate that negative?

Substitute Davids for Black Piet.

These are the questions anyone considered about tackling discrimination on the societal level should be asking. 

I think what we are actually witnessing is the same old clash of values between those who want to alter society and those who are so individualist they don't. Additionally the racist right has often took cover behind the individualist right.

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  • 1 month later...

Andres Iniesta has been heavily criticised after posting a controversial blackface picture on social media.

The Spanish 2010 World Cup-winner posted the image with friends and family on his Twitter account on 6 January.

 

In the photo, a number of people are dressed as a variety of nativity characters, two of whom appear to be made up in blackface.

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