Dutch court rules ‘Black Pete’ a negative stereotype
Black Pete, the alleged jolly sidekick of the Dutch Saint Nicholas is a negative stereotype, an Amsterdam court ruled on Thursday, ordering the capital’s mayor to review a traditional children’s festival because of the caricature’s presence.
"The image of Black Pete with his thick red lips, being a stupid servant, gives rise to a negative stereotyping of Black people," the regional court said in a statement.
The court based its decision on an investigation which found that “many Black Amsterdammers felt discriminated against and that many in Amsterdam said they could imagine Black people would feel discriminated against by Black Pete”, it added.
Emotions reached fever pitch last year ahead of the 75th annual “arrival” of the Saint Nicholas and his controversial helper in Amsterdam at a traditional holiday celebrated by children around the Netherlands.
Saint Nicholas and dozens of Black Petes traditionally “arrive” with a gift-filled boat from Spain on the third Saturday of November.
Three weeks later, on December 5, the Dutch give each other gifts allegedly distributed by Saint Nicholas — a Turkish bishop wearing a long red gown and mitre — and Black Pete.
Dressed in a gaudy medieval costume with a blackened face, red lips and an afro wig, Pete is seen by many ordinary Dutch as a harmless prankster cheering up the children’s festival.
But others see a racist throwback to an era when Black people were enslaved by the seafaring Dutch in their far-flung colonies, particularly Suriname and Curacao.