Sunday, November 18, 2007


Would Dieuwertje Blok still present the Saint Nicolas News if the complete country sang on 5 December: " Saint Nicolas enter with your Jewish servant".

Of course not.

Because we take the persecution of Jews during the second world war serious, a horrific history of prosecution, exclusion, and killings.

A culture expert said in a Dutch the TV program Nova that black Pete is not Surinamees (yeeh, what eye opener), but a Moor.

So we can relax; the enslaved Moor represents (beside the high horse driving Saint Nicolas) the victory of Christianity over Islam, good over evil, wisdom over stupidity.

How can this tale still be told as this origin of the caricature is something we should be relieved about? Black Pete is not Surinamese but a Moor, a Moroccan therefore! No, more precise, the expert tells us; "a Berber!"

The culture-expert confuses people who really exist with the caricature other cultures make of those people. Black Pete is in all its forms a European caricature. A European caricature of the East, of Africans, of religion. A representation of inferiority versus superiority, of difference. Without a slave there is no master: and without the negro servant there is no wise, serious, old, highriding, superior old white Christian male. The Saint Nicolas celebration is also a celebration of old Dutch colonial relations. Letting go of the negro servant Pete means letting go of this culturized image of white superiority, of colonial nostalgia, of a pre-multicultural era. And most people in Holland are not ready for that. So Pete needs to stay black and cannot be blue, orange, green or red.

The European caricature Black Pete as a representation of a Moor (Moslim) is as shameful as Black Pete in the current caricature of "Negro servant".

Dutch people: read white and black Dutch, have already stated decades that the white person who paints himself black annually is highly disturbing to them. It angries them, offends them, hurts them.

They express their opinion by talking, writing, participating in TV programs, and publishing books and articles. Not by attacking Black Petes in the streets, putting cars on fire or other violence.

Typical Dutch: we must talk. Not attack Black Pete; talk... In the Nova program the journalist asked: "Is not difficult for Moslims to celebrate Saint Nicolas ?"

White Dutch people are quite frightened for the responses of Moslims, therefore the journalist will ask this question, but never asks the other question about Black Pete being Black. Surinamees already talk, talk, and once more talk about it for decennia.

Not that we should handle it differently. But the advantage of talking is, for the party who is being addressed, that they can ignore our words completely. As if they were never pronounced, as if the books were never published, the discussions never held, the demonstrations never organized. As if we do not exist.

Collectively in Holland is simply decided: resistance against Black Pete does not exist. The Saint Nicolas propaganda machine works intense. We will all celebrate and enjoy this `typical Dutch’ celebration (three quarters of Europe celebrates it). Because "it is great children’s party".

Then the journalist asks a question to a child of immigrants, the question that we hear every year: Do you also celebrate Saint Nicolas at home´? Like a test if the Saint Nicolas ideology is correctly followed at home, and if the family in question therefore is "integrated" in Dutch society. The children answer to the question distantly as if they want say: are we doing something wrong?

"No, not everybody celebrates it at home also," the interviewed schoolmaster tells the journalist.
Black Pete makes me literally sick. When I see the caricature printed on, sweets, socks, shirts, masks, I wonder what is wrong with the historical conscience in the Netherlands. Where has it gone wrong with history education that these people make a caricature of others, and turn them into a servant of themselves: a white man?

Probably it went wrong already a long time ago: at the same time that our president Balkenende believed the VOC should be praised for a 'heroic enterprise'. He stated:

“I do not understand why you are so negative and tedious about it. Let us be happy together. Optimistic. Let us say: the Netherlands can do it again: that VOC-mentality [he refers to the Dutch East India Company of the 17th century]. Looking beyond the boundaries. Dynamism! Right?”

JP Balkenende: Minister President and once professor of a university, in a act of colonial nostalgia. If someone with this educational background has these types of ideas, what can we expect of the autochthon Dutch citizen without education?

In Germany there are also still people who praise the Nazi's because of their 'merits'; they have nevertheless build beautiful highways, they had much respect for mothers, everyone had work in that time, etc. etc. Against which price these "merits" of the VOC, Nazi's, or any other terrorist group were "gained", does not matter in the eyes of these speakers. They only want to see the shining gold, and not the blood attached.

A historical awareness, the capacity to imagine oneself in the position of the other, and the translation of that to responsible behavior in the present, that capacity limits itself in Netherlands to the second world war. So we would never sing, "Saint Nicolas enter with your Jewish servant". This is "logic" thanks to this historical awareness. When you change the words from Black into Jewish, in such a context all arguments like 'it-is-a-nice-innocent-celebration-for-children', are gone. The celebration is then not perceived anymore as something innocent but as a product of a distorted adult brain that we fiercely reject.

Black Peter on the other hand is still collectively being embraced and defended with fire and sword. The populair song Saint Nicolas enter with your Black servant is therefore no problem for many. Isn't that bizarre?

Once during a demonstration against black Pete I was beaten on the head by an old woman. She pulled the demonstration sign from my hands and used it as a weapon. Other demonstrators were spitt on. Yes, White Dutchies takes Black Peter véry serious.

I can see their fear at these moments: the "they-take-away-our-culture" fear. Black Pete becomes synonymous to the freedom to do what they consider to be normal, having to give no account about their behavior. It is a fight concerning power. And although they hide their fanaticism consequently behind the "it-is- a- innocent-party-you-make-it-racist" tantrum, their fierce reaction shows that they understand very well that it concerns power. The power to display Others in old colonial relations versus the power to exert influence on that imagination.

People who play for black Pete, I call `racist´ in their face, which is always answered with sweets (pepper notes) thrown in my way aggressively.

This site is here for the resistance voice. Here you can let others know in which manner black Peter displeases you and why. Express your feelings, describe your emotions.

People for who black Peter is an old dream come true to play Blacky, can click on to the Black Face Party for white Dutchies.

This site is here for being listened to.

Academic studies on Racisme and Black Pete:
Black Pete: Analyzing a Racialized Dutch Tradition Through the History of Western Creations of Stereotypes of Black Peoples

Zwarte Piet in a wider context of Dutch racism and its colonial

Pleidooi voor een 'bonte' of 'gestippelde' Piet

Black Skin, White Masks Revisited Contemporary Post-Colonial Dilemmas in the Netherlands, France, and Belgium

Who is black Peter? Ferrist State University: Museum of Racist Memorabilia

The Long-term Historical Development of Racist Tendencies within the Political and Social Context of Belgium. International Journal of Comparative Sociology.2006; 47: 313-334

Oer-Hollands : de onwrikbare rolverdeling tussen Sint en Piet


Ookal is hij zo zwart als roet. Auteur: Rahina Hassankhan

White on black : images of Africa and blacks in Western popular culture. Auteur: Jan Nederveen Pieterse (Also translated in Dutch as " Wit over Zwart" )

Sinterklaasje, kom maar binnen zonder knecht. Red.: Helder en Gravenberch

De strijd om Zwarte Piet. Auteur: Helsloot, J.I.A. Hoofdstuk in het boek: Veranderingen van het alledaagse 1950-2000


Stichting Eer en herstel.

Discussions in Dutch:
FUNX: Sinterklaasje kom maar binnen zonder knecht : Multicultural Radio Site

Zwarte Piet is Zwart verdriet : Surinamees site, Waterkant

Active Discussion in English going on for 2 years, since 2005: Black pete:
Discuss Dutch Culture