Dutch Santa Claus Has Slaves - U2 Feedback

Go Back   U2 Feedback > Lypton Village > Free Your Mind
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 12-15-2011, 07:28 PM   #1
Rock n' Roll Doggie
VIP PASS
 
Pearl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: NYC
Posts: 5,741
Local Time: 08:28 PM
Dutch Santa Claus Has Slaves

Quote:
Here’s what concerns me: In Holland, Santa, or “Sinterklaas,” as he’s known to the Dutch, doesn't have reindeer; he has a little helper named ZwartePiet, literally Black Pete, who charms children with pepernoten cookies and a kooky demeanor while horrifying foreign visitors with his resemblance to Little Black Sambo. Each year, on Dec. 5, the morning before the feast of St. Nicholas, children all over the country wake up excited for gifts and candy while thousands of adults go to their mirrors to apply brown paint and red lips. In their Zwarte Piet costumes, they fill central Amsterdam and small village streets, ushering in the arrival of Sinterklaas who, in the Dutch tradition, rides a flying white horse.


Trying to tell a Dutch person why this image disturbs you will often result in anger and frustration. Otherwise mature and liberal-minded adults may recoil from the topic and offer a rote list of reasons why Zwarte Piet should not offend anybody. “He is not even a black man,” many will tell you. “He is just black because he came down the chimney.” Then, you may reply, why aren’t his clothes dirty?





As the history of Zwarte Piet makes clear, that chimney-soot explanation doesn’t wash. Zwarte Piet—or his immediate ancestor, anyway—was introduced in 1845 in the story “Saint Nicholas and his Servant,” written by an Amsterdam schoolteacher named Jan Schenkman. In the story, Sinterklaas comes from Spain by steamship bringing with him a black helper of African origin. The book was wildly popular and with it began the inclusion of Santa’s helper in Dutch Christmas festivities. (It wasn’t until later in the century that he was given the name Piet.)

Zwarte Piet: Holland’s favorite racist Christmastime tradition. - Slate Magazine



This is really bad. As I read the article, I couldn't believe that so many Dutch would be in such denial that Zwarte Piet is racist and mocks black people. Must be fun to be a black person in Holland.


Also bad, read the comments. Some people were saying Zwarte Piet is freedom of speech.
__________________

Pearl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-15-2011, 09:21 PM   #2
Rock n' Roll Doggie
Band-aid
 
Tiger Edge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: The Everglades
Posts: 4,740
Local Time: 08:28 PM
I feel like Zwarte Pete should be a part of Godwin's Law at this point. It's brought up every year at Christmas.
__________________

Tiger Edge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-15-2011, 09:39 PM   #3
Blue Crack Addict
 
deep's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: A far distance down.
Posts: 28,507
Local Time: 05:28 PM


look at that crap !!!

those people are no better than Nazis
deep is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-15-2011, 09:40 PM   #4
Rock n' Roll Doggie
VIP PASS
 
Pearl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: NYC
Posts: 5,741
Local Time: 08:28 PM
It's disgusting. How could Holland explain itself on the world stage?
Pearl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2011, 12:13 AM   #5
Forum Moderator
 
yolland's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 7,471
Local Time: 01:28 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiger Edge View Post
It's brought up every year at Christmas.
Is it? I don't think I'd ever heard of this before TBH.
__________________
yolland [at] interference.com


μελετώ αποτυγχάνειν. -- Διογένης της Σινώπης
yolland is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2011, 01:55 AM   #6
The Male
 
LemonMelon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Hollywoo
Posts: 66,835
Local Time: 05:28 PM
I heard an explanation the other day that suggested his servant boy was black from all the chimneys he passed through. Maybe his lips swelled up to a monstrous size from a cookie/milk allergy?
LemonMelon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2011, 05:08 AM   #7
ONE
love, blood, life
 
Canadiens1131's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 10,363
Local Time: 08:28 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by LemonMelon View Post
I heard an explanation the other day that suggested his servant boy was black from all the chimneys he passed through. Maybe his lips swelled up to a monstrous size from a cookie/milk allergy?
Canadiens1131 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2011, 05:43 AM   #8
Rock n' Roll Doggie
Band-aid
 
Tiger Edge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: The Everglades
Posts: 4,740
Local Time: 08:28 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by yolland
Is it? I don't think I'd ever heard of this before TBH.
Yeah, this must be the third or fourth year I've read about it, at least for me.
I can honestly say that I don't think it's harmful. It only pops up for two weeks or so and the connotation behind it has died. But then again, I have gollywogs from the Dominican Republic in my house. (I didn't buy them and they're not
mine!)
I went on a cruise a few weeks ago and some Cubans dressed up in blackface for a halloween contest. I really didn't see people complaining in disgust, besides myself. I can't imagine many people knowing WHY it is offensive these days, otherwise they would have never let them get up onstage.
Cubans, however, are inherently racist, but not aggressively so, from what I've experienced. I seemed to have escaped that gene.
Tiger Edge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2011, 06:07 AM   #9
Refugee
 
WalkOn21's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: A place where the wind calls your name
Posts: 1,052
Local Time: 01:28 AM
The article in the opening post takes it all out of context and out of proportion. Sinterklaas is an important part of Dutch folklore. Read about it on Wikipedia.

As for the Zwarte Pieten being black: yes, of course this has a colonial origin. Sinterklaas' helpers (or, if you wish, slaves) were black Africans. But in modern-day folklore this is reinterpreted as them being black because they have to crawl through soot-ridden chimneys to deliver the presents to little children. "Zwarte Piet, zo zwart als roet" goes one Sinterklaas song - "Zwarte Piet, black as soot".

This requires some explaining: on Sinterklaas eve, children put one of their shoes in front of the stove, with some gifts in it for Sinterklaas (e.g. a poem) and for his horse (a carrot). The children are told that during the night, Sinterklaas walks on the rooftops of houses on his horse together with his Zwarte Pieten; the Zwarte Pieten then descend down the chimneys to deliver presents to the children's shoes and return with the poems and carrots, which they give to Sinterklaas and his horse.





It's really not such a racist tradition.

Mind you, black people who actually live in the Netherlands don't usually mind, and happily join in the celebrations. It's mostly outsiders, such as foreign media, that make a big fuss about the racist connotations.
WalkOn21 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2011, 06:28 AM   #10
BVS
Blue Crack Supplier
 
BVS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: between my head and heart
Posts: 41,188
Local Time: 07:28 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by WalkOn21 View Post


It's really not such a racist tradition.
Riiiiiiight

That picture and that sentence next to each other makes it really hard to take seriously.
BVS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2011, 07:16 AM   #11
Rock n' Roll Doggie
VIP PASS
 
Vincent Vega's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Berlin
Posts: 6,618
Local Time: 02:28 AM
Well, I guess the minds are pretty set on this. Americans view this whole topic from their perspective where all racist connotations these days are frowned upon due to their own history with slavery and racism. The Netherlands, while once being a colonial power, have an entirely different history and tradition. It was also the very first society in the Western world that went against the exploitation and the cruel treatment of today's third world after the publication of "Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company". So it is worth considering that there are indeed, entirely different views on this topic. Holland, over the last couple years, indeed has struggled with issues over immigration and such, seen e.g. in the rise of Geert Wilders, but to make comments what a terrible, racist country Holland is, based on one article about a topic where the different cultural spheres are not even remotely explained, sorry, but that is uninformed either.
Vincent Vega is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2011, 07:30 AM   #12
BVS
Blue Crack Supplier
 
BVS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: between my head and heart
Posts: 41,188
Local Time: 07:28 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincent Vega View Post
Americans view this whole topic from their perspective where all racist connotations these days are frowned upon due to their own history with slavery and racism.
I'm a little confused, shouldn't all racist connotations be frowned upon?
BVS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2011, 07:43 AM   #13
Rock n' Roll Doggie
VIP PASS
 
Vincent Vega's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Berlin
Posts: 6,618
Local Time: 02:28 AM
Yes, sorry, that sentence wasn't very clear. Racism, of course, is to be frowned upon. Racial probably would have been a more fitting term there.
I tried to say that Americans are much more sensitive to such topics, and what in European societies may not have such a racial connotation, and is not deemed offensive by either group, may be viewed entirely different in the US. So an American seeing the Zwarte Piet will, from his own socialisation, be offended by it. A Dutch, not sharing this same perspective, will not see it. And as has been said before, black people living in the Netherlands usually also don't see it as offensive, in fact, they often participate in the festivities.
Vincent Vega is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2011, 07:43 AM   #14
Refugee
 
WalkOn21's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: A place where the wind calls your name
Posts: 1,052
Local Time: 01:28 AM
Boo-hoo, people.

The Dutch government is currently working on a law that would make wearing a burqa a criminal offence. Not the wearing of face-covering clothing in general, no, specifically burqas. Basically, it's a big 'fuck you' to freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

What I'm saying is: when it comes to discrimination, a reference to the colonial era in a children's celebration is the least of this country's worries.
WalkOn21 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2011, 08:27 AM   #15
BVS
Blue Crack Supplier
 
BVS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: between my head and heart
Posts: 41,188
Local Time: 07:28 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincent Vega View Post
Yes, sorry, that sentence wasn't very clear. Racism, of course, is to be frowned upon. Racial probably would have been a more fitting term there.
I tried to say that Americans are much more sensitive to such topics, and what in European societies may not have such a racial connotation, and is not deemed offensive by either group, may be viewed entirely different in the US. So an American seeing the Zwarte Piet will, from his own socialisation, be offended by it. A Dutch, not sharing this same perspective, will not see it. And as has been said before, black people living in the Netherlands usually also don't see it as offensive, in fact, they often participate in the festivities.
I agree to a certain point that Americans are probably a little more sensitive or in tune to such topics. BUT, I wouldn't necessarily say that just because black people participate doesn't mean there isn't anything offensive about it to them.

I have a friend through my church that moved here from Africa about 4 years ago for college. Very fascinating woman, the first individual ever to leave or go to college from her town. I was the first red head she's ever seen; she stared, asked questions, asked if she could touch it. It was very eye opening to see the world through the eyes of an adult that is seeing things for the first time. Long story short we were once flipping through a book and there was a drawing very similiar to the one above and she looked up and asked me, "why are black people drawn this way, is this what I look like to you?". It opened the doors to a very long and difficult conversation, but even without any historical context she was bothered by these illustrations. So that's why I have a hard time when people blanketly say "it's not racist".
BVS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2011, 09:01 AM   #16
Rock n' Roll Doggie
VIP PASS
 
Vincent Vega's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Berlin
Posts: 6,618
Local Time: 02:28 AM
True, the fact of black people particitpating in an activity that could easily be deemed offensive to them alone is not reason enough to deny a possible racism involved, and I'm sure there's also people in the Netherlands taking another approach. I think the great difference here is, in the Netherlands it is a very uncontroversial thing, whereas Americans tend to take much greater offense. But before saying things like "How could Holland explain itself", one should ask oneself, "Is our view the only valid on this topic, or should we maybe take different cultures and cultural contexts into consideration."
But I also have to admit, when I first saw the images of the Zwarte Piet, I also felt a bit awkward about them. However, I quickly realized in the Netherlands it's not seen this way, neither by white nor by black people, so why make it an issue coming from outside?
Vincent Vega is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2011, 09:06 AM   #17
BVS
Blue Crack Supplier
 
BVS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: between my head and heart
Posts: 41,188
Local Time: 07:28 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincent Vega View Post
But before saying things like "How could Holland explain itself", one should ask themselve, "Is our view the only valid on this topic, or should we maybe take different cultures and cultural contexts into consideration."
I agree.
BVS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2011, 09:06 AM   #18
Refugee
 
WalkOn21's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: A place where the wind calls your name
Posts: 1,052
Local Time: 01:28 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by BVS View Post
So that's why I have a hard time when people blanketly say "it's not racist".
Of course, people can take offence from it and consider it racist. Nevertheless, in its modern context it isn't meant to be racist. No one will deny that it has colonial origins and that the Zwarte Pieten originally indeed were black African slaves. In it's modern reinterpretation, however, they're just Sinterklaas' friendly helpers whose skin has turned black with soot.

Aside from that, they're not treated as slaves. Sinterklaas doesn't command his Pieten holding a whip in his hand, on the contrary, he kindly asks them to help him with things. There's nothing in the whole ritual that would lead the attending children to believe that black people are inferior to white people.

What if we would replace the Zwarte Pieten with white helpers? That would stir up racism allegations itself, because it suggests that black people aren't good enough to help Sinterklaas.
WalkOn21 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2011, 09:15 AM   #19
BVS
Blue Crack Supplier
 
BVS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: between my head and heart
Posts: 41,188
Local Time: 07:28 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by WalkOn21 View Post
Nevertheless, in its modern context it isn't meant to be racist.
Do you believe there has to be intent in order to be racist?

I think this is a question is constantly being raised when talking about race in the modern day context. Some believe racism only exists when there are white hoods involved, and others find racism on every corner.

But I think you have to be careful with "it's not meant to be racist", because how different is that to "I'm not racist, but..."?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WalkOn21 View Post
What if we would replace the Zwarte Pieten with white helpers? That would stir up racism allegations itself, because it suggests that black people aren't good enough to help Sinterklaas.
I am not bothered so much that the helpers are black(I know some are), but my issue is much more in how they are visually portrayed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WalkOn21 View Post
There's nothing in the whole ritual that would lead the attending children to believe that black people are inferior to white people
If you were looking at images and one was suppose to represent you and the other was to represent someone of another race, and the one that was to represent the other race actually looked very similar to them portraying them as normal, but the image of you was always a caricature that looked nothing like you, you wouldn't believe that they thought you were inferior somehow? Intentionally or not, I think it would start to bother you.
BVS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2011, 09:52 AM   #20
Rock n' Roll Doggie
Band-aid
 
Tiger Edge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: The Everglades
Posts: 4,740
Local Time: 08:28 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by WalkOn21 View Post
No one will deny that it has colonial origins and that the Zwarte Pieten originally indeed were black African slaves. In it's modern reinterpretation, however, they're just Sinterklaas' friendly helpers whose skin has turned black with soot.
Revisionist history at its finest.

I still stand with my point though. It's not a year round thing, golliwogs in general are no longer malicious. It's in bad taste, but I don't see why we should get up in arms about it. If the black community in the Netherlands condemned it, then I could see us making it an issue a valid point. They don't. So far, the only articles I've ever read over the years have come from an outraged white American.


__________________

Tiger Edge is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:28 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Design, images and all things inclusive copyright © Interference.com
×