They should turn him into blue-pete or something. I don't think the specific color matters to the tradition.

Morgan, what I got most out of reading your piece is how hard it hits you emotionally regardless of what the intentions or thoughts behind the celebration was. For this reason I absolutely agree the tradition has to be changed.

I know it does not just hurt visitors but it also hurts many black Dutch people. An important celebration like this should be inclusive.

But I react negative to a lot of your assumption about how white-Dutch people think about this tradition. I am not dutch myself but I have lived there.

This idea that white people somehow see it has thrilling to pretend to be subjugated black person is reading way too much into it.

For centuries, most people dressing up as Zwarte Piete had no idea of what actual black people where like.

You cannot compare the American tradition of black-face with the dutch tradition. In America there has been a large black population for centuries. White American explicitly mocked African-Americans with their black face. They knew exactly who they where mimicing.

From my interactions with Dutch people it never seemed clear to any of them exactly why Zwarte-Piet is black. Some say it was because he went down the chimney. Some say it was because he was Moorish.

I have actually never heard that it was assumed he was of sub-Saharan origin. You seem to put this story into a mold American can reckognize: A white guy with his African slave.

I don't think that is how people look at it.

Written by

Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store