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Belgian Dutch Official Dresses in Blackface as ‘Black Pete’ and Is Offended that You’re Offended

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A Flemish minister decided to dress in blackface as Black Pete this holiday season, and refuses to understand how anyone can interpret his choice of dress as being racist.

It is often said that old habits die hard, and this is certainly the case with the character known as Zwart Piet, or “Black Pete,” Santa’s Black sidekick as recognized and celebrated in the Netherlands and in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern region of Belgium. An African servant of Saint Nicholas, the character is depicted as a happy buffoon, mischievous and lazy, and over the years it has been customary for people to dress in blackface as Black Pete. Think of the Christmas parade meets the minstrel show, or Sambo meets Santa Claus.

As was reported in the Independent, Sven Gatz, the Flemish minister of Culture, tweeted a photo of himself in blackface, with his lips painted red and wearing an Afro wig and a Renaissance-style outfit.

Gatz then defended himself against legitimate charges of racism with his own version of “some of my best friends are Black”:

Demonstrators hold signs reading 'Black Pete is Rascism' and 'Free Black Pete' during a demonstration against Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) in Amsterdam

Demonstrators hold signs reading ‘Black Pete is Rascism’ and ‘Free Black Pete’ during a demonstration against Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) in Amsterdam (Photo: The Independent)

Supporters of the tradition contend that this is all harmless fun. However, anti-racism activists have protested against the time-honored Black Pete as racially offensive. For example, the website StopBlackface.com has brought attention to the racially offensive practice, while CNN Digital recently broadcasted a short film by African-American filmmaker Roger Ross Williams called, Blackface.

 

This year, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on the Netherlands to revamp Black Pete on the grounds that it reflects negative stereotypes of people of African descent and represents a “vestige of slavery”:

Prime Minister Mark Rutte responded in a dismissive manner, declaring it is not the government’s role to shape folklore.

“Folk traditions. Come on. What Christmas songs you should sing, how you celebrate Christmas and Easter — this isn’t what politics is about,” he told reporters in The Hague, according to Al Jazeera.

This season, a shop in Amsterdam features President Obama dressed as Black Pete:

Further, a European toy manufacturer called Playmobil sells toy sets featuring Black Pete and slave figures.  Some have responded to the call to tone down and “lighten up” Black Pete by giving the Christmas character a makeover as “Soot Pete,” arguing that Pete is Black because he is covered in soot from the chimney. This, of course, is racially offensive because it associates Blackness with filth.

These offensive, racist images come within the context of hundreds of years of European colonialism, and the enslavement, rape and genocide of African people.  King Leopold II of Belgium committed atrocious, unspeakable crimes against the people of the Congo, among the worst in human history.  He murdered and worked to death 10 million Congolese, and used Congo and its natural resources as his personal possession.  And this, like Black Pete, is no laughing matter.

What people are saying

86 thoughts on “Belgian Dutch Official Dresses in Blackface as ‘Black Pete’ and Is Offended that You’re Offended

  1. Han Thomas says:

    Sigh.. this takes a frustratingly long time for people to 'get' it. And it would be real easy to replace the black with a bunch of other nice colors: problem solved without significantly impacting the tradition.

  2. And turks are indians?ok

  3. So what's wrong with being black anyway??? My lovely daughter-in-law is black. I find it more offensive to imply that there's something wrong with dressing in costume just because the subject is black as though it's something to be ashamed of!

  4. …There is nothing wrong with being black (black paint, white paint – whatever paint)as long the motive is not to ridicule, i guess.I am not offended period.I however feel i would look silly if my face was painted white,peach,cream ,etc and my lovey brown lips would look silly or funny.I guess ,the past will always haunt us as some folks black ,white and green are racist and angry.

  5. Leon Schuster does wear brown and black make-up and there is no racism DRAMA about it and that is great….

  6. That's not why it's racist…but hey, carry on.

  7. The truth is they do it to pay tribute to St Nicholas who was a black african moor who skin was dark as night the Europeans have lied and said they do it because of santa's african servant which is a 100% false because who celebrates a servant?????????????? That's like Mississippi throwing a parade for house slave william and which all he did was poor drinks for people wake up people THEY DO IT BECAUSE ST NICHOLAS WAS A BLACK AFRICAN MOOR WITH SKIN DARK AS NIGHT!

  8. This world this world, nothing is a problem until it affect you personally. Most of the time we can't see what don't affect us.

  9. Once again someone to ignorant to be allowed to write the news uses the story of an Indian as a reference to Africans.

  10. Bullshit!. He was from what is now Turkey.

  11. Highly offensive. If my mother sees this, she will lose it. Bad taste. No class.

  12. So there were no black,moor ,turks?hmmm

  13. Nicole Barry says:

    Lindo Parks Lmmmfaoooo You have me soooo weakkk at "Belgium Waffle Face Looking Like The Walking Dead Motherfuckers"….omgg lmmfaooo

  14. Ethel Williams I'm typing about the Sambo reference.

  15. We are vibing from the same frequency as Joe Aldred on this one posted on my page. I am preparing an analysis on this psycho-racial phenomenon that might cause offence to them when I finish explaining why a couple of hours 'blacked-up' is not enough to compensate for the melanin deficit of the Flemish Nordic racial physiognomy . However, what the Black face does do is immediate impact upon the mood of the usually phlegmatic, melancholic temperament of the Flems. Melanin endowment = Serotonin = happy hormone = uplifted mood! Tanning takes longer but does not last. Be happy with what nature has endowed or under-dowed you with.

  16. Timothy Banks You've been lied to timothy everything you've been taught was a got dam lie the same people who are telling you St Nicholas was white is the same people who tell you jesus is white in which the bibile says he has skin of burnt brass burning in the furnist and hair like sheeps wool do the research for yourself don't take my word for it you're going to truly believe they through huge parades and dress up in black face all for some servant even you know deep down inside that sounds stupid………

  17. Theo Ferron says:

    Look at the old american cartoons of their ideas of black people and you will see clear as day why Black Pete is offensive. Even some anime artists still use that ignorant idea of what they think black people look like.

  18. It's offensive when the character /costume of the black character is a baffoon and/or a mockery of black people.

  19. He dressed as a jolly slave character who is "depicted as a happy buffoon, mischievous and lazy"…how is that not insulting nor racist?

  20. it will always be in the hearts and mind of a dumb race of thiefing people who have stolen the culture of others to build themselves up. feel pity for them and pray for them. By the way JESUS IS BLACK and all will see real soon

  21. David Kinch says:

    What people fail to realize is the culture beneath the surface. Zwart Peit is also the Krampus, a demon that takes away children. That is a negative stereotype that Black Africans do not need.

  22. Lindo Parks says:

    BAHAHAHAHAHAH LOOK AT HOW DUMB THEY LOOK. HOLD ON WAIT…….BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAH. WHY YOU THERE PAINTING YOUR FACE THINKING YOUR DOING SOMETHING US. BLACK SKIN HAS POWER. I WOULD SAY MORE BUT FOR WHAT. SEEK AND YOU SHALL FIND THE ANSWER. ALL OF YOU BELGIUM WAFFLE FACE LOOKING LIKE THE WALKING DEAD MOTHER FUCKERS LOL!!!!! KEEP PAINTING YOUR FACE BLACK MAYBE IT WILL PROTECT YOU FROM THE SUN THAT YOU RUN AWAY FROM!!!! LOL IF ONLY YOU COULD LOOK LIKE US. FUNNY HOW PEOPLE THINK THAT THEY ARE MAKING FUN OF US BUT DEEP DOWN INSIDE THEY WANNA BE US.

  23. Ebony Webb says:

    If it's not o offensive, why do they need black face? Why won't a black person play Black Pete. If i wanted to make a movie depicting the truth and history of white America to destroy white priviledge, the only issue would be casting. Why? Because it is against the image white people like to see of themselves. It paints them in a negative light against how they attemt to brand themselves. So how horrible would it be if we white-faced to do the movie anyways? Shove Black Pete up your asses. You're being racist assholes!

  24. Tell that truth! It's clear that people like these jealous because they are not the chosen ones of the most high. so i am not up-set about it i just laugh at them because they are stupid.

  25. Am sorry but this is very wrong and not being too sensitive

  26. Theo Ferron says:

    Lindo Parks Eh?! Is that directed at me?

  27. The paint should stay there permanently.

  28. Timothy Banks LOL. You need to travel if you do not know that Black/Moors live/lived in modern day Turkey. What is wrong with American education? Do you also think Morroccans and Egptians looked like Elizabeth Taylor?

  29. Timothy Banks You really need an eduation. Sambo is now Indian? Where did you read that tidbit? The same blacke where you were taught about Moors?

  30. Per Derveld says:

    His name is not zeus but hebrew name , Yashaya

  31. Sophia Richardson I've known where Sambo was from since I read the story as a child. Where the hell do you think TIGERS come from you ignorant bigot.
    Sambo is a South Indian boy who lives with his father and mother, named Black Jumbo and Black Mumbo, respectively. While out walking, Sambo encounters four hungry tigers, and surrenders his colourful new clothes, shoes, and umbrella so they will not eat him. The tigers are vain and each thinks he is better dressed than the others. They chase each other around a tree until they are reduced to a pool of melted butter. Sambo then recovers his clothes and collects the butter, which his mother uses to make pancakes.

  32. Sambo is another name for God..Darker people would get mad at one point when they were call Sunshine,and lightning. Related to Great natural things.The less you know about yourself the easier it is for someone that really wants to be you to come along and rattle your cage…..The one that your mind has been put in…

  33. wsasnt st nicolas a moor?

  34. Alex Einz says:

    I am also offended when balck people wear Santa costume then… ( hint: sarcasm ) get a grip and grow thicker skin, this whole racist pc bullshit gone too far

  35. Jill Harper says:

    i think you might need to read the history on it as we stole santa claus from the netherlands – i have a friend from the netherlands and he explained the whole custom to me

  36. No he was born in what is now Turkey to a Greek family.

  37. Claire Vega says:

    http://m.imdb.com/title/tt0381707/
    Nobody protested white chicks. It should have not been allowed. And white people doing black face is disgusting and shouldn't be allowed either

  38. Iain Lundberg ah i see. ive been hearing this everywhere

  39. Nina Simone says:

    Easier said than done, Alex Einz, when you're not at the receiving end…

  40. Why are Americans trying to get involved in our traditions? Does that mean that we
    should also post stuff on the internet on how BAD thanksgiving is?! If people don't like our traditions then go to another country or shut up!!
    Here in Belgium nobody debates whetter Zwarte piet is racist.Even politicians and black people do it because it isn't racist!! Before people start talking about slaves, know that in history there were more white slaves then black slaves.

  41. Love Crosby says:

    There nothing wrong with "being black". The problem is in our history. Our ancestors were always oppressed, when slavery was outlawed when had to combat segregation. "Black face" was another accepted form of humiliation for blacks. It made us portrayed as a dumb and lazy race which they used as propaganda. The problem isn't being black, the problem is when people ask think it's funny to reenactment a bad part of history that's didn't stand for anything good. Smh the ignorance of people. Know what your talking about before commenting

  42. Maybe you don't like the movie white chicks, but that's your opinion. Did the movie white chicks, as black pete does, reminded you of any form of oppression, like slavery? and dehumanizing your race, so that they could be exploited, because they were less human than white people?
    Did the movie white chicks resulted in people calling your children black pete (like in Holland) every year when their sinterklaas celebration starts, while they say it’s a festivity for children?

    Did the movie white chicks hurt you fiscally, because your race is dehumanized and people find you look threatening, like a demon and kill you because of the portrayal of black people in the media.

    Did you know that there are video’s where anti black pete protesters are called monkey by pro black pete protesters in front of small children?
    Tell me when the movie white chicks has that effect for white people.

  43. This man is shameless, as a leader in Belgium, a country with a history of enslaving and mistreating black people, he displays he still doesn’t care about the feelings of black people. He is a racist who is showing off his white supremacy. If you don’t know about the cruelty of Leopold of Belgium against black people Look at this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grYjrdbDHOc Some people will never change

  44. I'm sorry but I just can't stop laughing about your post! Everybody here is talking about so-called racism against blacks, while you guys are being racist against whites!!!

  45. Jesus was Arabic…Wasn't born in Africa….From a scientific perspective everyone's from Africa… And don't bash white people for having a white Jesus, Asians have an Asian Jesus…Whatever helps you cope with day to day life should be your belief . It's not a contest.

  46. Can we bomb them I am sicking of having to explain this shit can we just drop bombs on these people and be done with them.

  47. Hans-peter Wijns blacks cannot be racist. Racism is more about black vs white vs brown. Go to facebook. Look up 'NowThis' and watch the video Here is why Reverse Racism isn't a real thing.

  48. What's annoying about Caucasoid's comments, when they call African people, racist. It's literally impossible for people of color to be racist. Racism is White Supremacy and White Supremacist constantly lives in fear because their genetically repressive unable to reproduce color. Their population accounts only 5% of world. Let's not forget, Caucasoid's (western white families) consumes 50% of all world resources. These peoples consumes enough resources to supply 3 billion people. They constantly murder and destroy everything in their paths to capture, control and exploit other people's resources for their own selfish greed!!!

    Their entire history is plagiaristic, they left there homelands to receive civilization. Their behavior doesn't surprise me and it shouldn't surprise you. We must learn to love them and deal with their hatred and eventually with enough time they'll earned spirituality and change will begin within them. We must use our spiritually to love them, even as they make fun of us, kill us, exploit us, tell lies about us; continue to love them because their a spiritually dead people.

  49. Laneasze Jackson Really? Then why does Beverly Williams say and I quote: "it will always be in the hearts and mind of a dumb race of thiefing people who have stolen the culture of others to build themselves up." Wich means saying the European "race" is dumb and thiefing. Also read the other comments posted by black people.
    ps. I'm from Belgium where this tradition(Zwarte piet) is also celebrated and luckily not exaggerated so could you please explain why Americans make such a problem out of these belgian things (besides zwarte piet wich is our heritage and tradition and Americans have no right to even think about removing Zwarte piet en Sinterklaas):
    -Melocakes are called negerinnetetten(meaning negrotits)
    -the saying: 'Iemand zwart laten lijken'(=to make somoene look black) wich means to make somoene look like a bad person.

  50. It's truly a sad state of affairs. With life being so short, this is what people spend time doing.

  51. Couldn't stop laughing at your comment. Yes, the paint should not be made to come off , then we'd see how much celebrating would be going on.

  52. They only wish they 100 percent men and women instead are 32% man or women 68% beast and Nephilims.

  53. jesus is fake,jesus is the Strong Delusion,God said He would to Decieve us that we may be dammed.God Only Is Emmanual,and that name NEVER WILL CHANGE.

  54. White only wish to fully men and wome but are instead 32% man or women 68% beast or nephilim.

  55. Malia Simone says:

    They understand full well their cultural practices are racists, they just don't want to admit it or stop becuase it's been a long time tradition to practice such racism and they have a reason for it. They will always portray black people as unintelligent and as slaves in their culture. Making an excuse to say that it's harmless fun is a lie. It is fun for them to dress in blackface and portray black people in that demeaning way, because that is what they have been taught to do. They have incorpoarted racism in their culture and pretend to not see it is as offensive to black people only so they don't have to stop. Why are they dressing our President Obama, the only non-white President in our country's history who has darker skin in their racist blackface customs?? They are trying to portray him in that demeaning way on purpose.

  56. Malia Simone says:

    Thats a lie. White people who enslaved blacks made sure the majority of the slaves were the black ones. White people no matter what nationality will always make themselves look like the victim. Like blacks weren't the ones who primarily suffered whether it was in your country or ours. You can scream how that tradition is not racist till your blue in the face doesn't make it true. Doesn't matter who participates in it. It is still racist and if you can't see that then you are just uneducated on the forms of racism.

  57. Malia Simone says:

    What are you talking about? Is it too much for you to use full sentences and explain what the hell you are trying to say?

  58. Malia Simone says:

    Nobody protested White Chicks because white people didn't get offended to see another race dressed up as them. Why? Because the white girls in white chicks were protrayed as white privileged, rich, spolied, and racially insensitive. Not much of an insult especially when the shoe fits for actual rich white americans. But when white americans dress in blackface they are portrayes as ignorant, slaves, and the black color skin is associated with dirt. No one has dressed up in blackface and portrayed blacks as successful or intelligent. Instead they want to reference blacks to Jim Crow days. So yeah there's a huge difference, not that it's okay for any race to do.

  59. Malia Simone i was stating wishing they were 100 percent man or woman,instead they are 32percent human and 68percent nephilin the beast.just about said the same thing

  60. Malia Simone You're way to funny! Do you actually believe what your saying?I'm talking about Arabs who enslaved white people, did you know that there were 2 times as many white slaves then black slaves and also for a longer period of history?However we aren't constantly bitching about it like you guys do. Also It's black people who costantly make themselves look like the victim.Besides if you guys really see "racism" everywhere then why aren't you guys against Thanksgiving(wich is the celebration of a genocide).Also my country wasn't involved in slavery(in general) in America or in my country.It's just so funny when you read these American comments that the stereotypes are actually true.

  61. Hans-peter Wijns …A black person in their right mind would never want to look like a snowflake that melts and dies out as soon as it's touched by another color. The white crayon is the weakest in the box. It can't even change the color of yellow. That's called….INFERIOR. Imitation is the biggest form of flattery. That's why you are puffing up your lips and behinds

  62. DoubleEm Castillano …White people can have all the white Jesus they want. They have pillaged everything else and made it white, so why not Jesus. But you know the truth and that will set you free

  63. So true…..Anyone with their level of heinousness and evilness can't probably have a soul. Spirituality doesn't live anywhere near them. They are the children of satan. Even in the Bible when it speaks of people who look like them, Leprosy is also mentioned

  64. Are you saying that blacks don't have a reason to be angry? Or, are you just one of those ignants who enjoyed Apartheid?

  65. Per Derveld …It's Yeshua…

  66. DoubleEm Castillano …Lol, you are willing to except anything other than the truth huh? Pathetic. Most of the people of DR and Central America are also black. But you aholes are denying that too. If you were Spanish, you would be white.

  67. Juanita V White Just how funny how black people here constantly talk about racism against blacks while they're racist themselves.And WTF is that for a kind of answer, you didn't even respond to my question?Also if white people are inferior then why isn't Africa more evolved(or the same) as Europe the moment just before the Europeans discovered it?However I suppose that you're just too stupid to understand a basic question. Most likely because you had a bad education NP I understand you're American and those are stupid in general,especially those from the Bronx.

  68. Hans-peter Wijns …….awwwwwwwwww so pastey of you. You are inferior and you know it. You're not my master that I have to answer any of your stupid questions. You're just mad because everything on you is small. Especially your penis. You pillaging thieves sucked the life out of Africa. How can it possible evolved when the devil is all of the place sucking it's natural resources. You people make Satan look like a Saint. Be gone…

  69. Damn, perhaps you should use my dog for your photo. It looks better

  70. Owen Thomas says:

    The author shows off his own racism by talking about something a Belgian did in the context of this article…when they're not related at all nor even the same freakin' country. What a bunch of culturally insensitive racist morons the author and his supporters are!

  71. Owen Thomas says:

    You're an idiot, Jesus was Jewish, an Israelite. Changing the Savior's race because it offends you is both ungodly AND racist. What a bunch of nutjobs you are.

  72. Owen Thomas says:

    Sorry you MORON Trinston Finley, Jews coined the word "Racist" and "Racism", and did not limit it to only applying to one race. If you're going to appropriate something from Jewish culture, at least get it right, you racist and hate-filled creature.

  73. Owen Thomas says:

    Kay Allyne Echols so you're saying that being black makes a person a buffoon and lazy? Wow, you are really racist and ignorant.

  74. Owen Thomas says:

    Timothy Banks what do you expect from "gender studies" and "race relations" majors? They couldn't be less productive, or of less use to the world if they tried. Look at Sophia Richardson, probably doesn't work in a real job, spends all her time online speaking of things she's too ignorant and uneduated to understand, just goes along with whatever weak-willed "social justice" crap she reads each week. Hates her own skin color so much that she uses excess flash to white herself out. It's a crying shame…talk about racism.

  75. Owen Thomas says:

    Malia Simone damn girlie, you need to change majors to history, because you obviously slept through it in HS. You're pretty racist, and Hans-peter is absolutely right, there were more white slaves than blacks throughout all of history. If you weren't such a racist, you'd grasp that. There were also a whole lot of Native American ones, but then again you're a "political science" major, which everyone knows is only a major to give people too stupid for anything else a choice between that and "gender studies".

  76. Juanita V White You're not answering any of my questions because you know I'm right.Also you didn't answer the question AGAIN. Also I said why wasn't Africa more evolved THE MOMENT BEFORE Europeans set foot.I presume that the reason why you act like this is because you're dumb.

  77. Juanita V White White light is made up from every color in the spectrum. Try to learn to be more inclusive.

  78. What a jackass, in most countries on the continent of Africa the people that live there would just as soon kill you as listen to your bullshit. You're all butthurt because some of your ancestors sold off some other ancestor into slavery and their descendents are still practicing slavery to this day unlike White Europeans who came to recognize how horrible it was before it was even outlawed in America.
    .

  79. I had to stop reading the comments about this article because the level of ignorance and idiocy just got to high.

  80. Owen Thomas says:

    Juanita V White actually, you ignorant twit, the environment in Europe was harsher than in Africa, which made it so that people had to be tough and smart to survive…the only people "sucking tyhe life" out of Africa, and destroying the environment and people there now, are Africans. You are mind-bogglingly ignorant and please feel free to shut the hell up now. 🙂 Thank you.

  81. Owen Thomas says:

    Trinston Finley wow, you just vomited so much ignorance and lack of education on the Internet it's just…wow. You're an idiot! Yes, Jewish authors coined the word racism. Yes, you're appropriating Jewish culture, and yes you're a hateful racist and anti-semite. And assuming someone's white because they disagree with you, just shows what an ignorant racist you really are. And, you moron, with your Irish last name and CAUCASIAN features, you've got more Anglo in your heritage than I do! Stop internalizing your racism fool!

  82. Owen Thomas All you offering are insults.

  83. Why do Black people get so upset about this? I dont see anything wrong with white people trying to protect themselves from the sun https://www.google.com/search?client=opera&q=how+the+sun+sees+you&sourceid=opera&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

  84. World Wide White Supremacy, is Global Racism hateful, White People in Black Face are Racist, have to have a DNA test to see if you are White!!! if you have 1% Black Blood you are Black!! not White!! Ancestry DNA test!!!! one drop of Black Blood make you Black!! These offensive, racist images come within the context of hundreds of years of European colonialism, and the enslavement, rape and genocide of African people. King Leopold II of Belgium committed atrocious, unspeakable crimes against the people of the Congo, among the worst in human history. He murdered and worked to death 10 million Congolese, and used Congo and its natural resources as his personal possession. And this, like Black Pete, is no laughing matter. Racism hate Human being should have a Ancestry DNA test 95% are not White People BUT!! Black People, Who passing as White!! One drop of Black Blood make you Black, 1% of Black Blood make you Black on United State America Law Book, family BIG!! SECRETS!! grandparent lie!! Parent Lie, 400th year's of America History of Lie!! World Wide Global Secrets!! in the 25th Dynasty from 760-790 BC Dynasty descendants from Black Civilzation in North Africa was Black People!! cross over to White!!! http://www.dnatruth.com/about

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