Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Netherlands on November 17 as controversial parades which are supposedly part of the Dutch tradition took place in the cities across the country. The nation celebrates the beginning of three weeks of festivities and the arrival of Sinterklaas every year, and this was the ninth year that these celebrations have also been accompanied by demonstrations against racism. People wear blackface with curly wigs to dress up as Zwarte Piet or Black Pete to mark the arrival of Sinterklaas, who is portrayed as an elderly white man.
The hostility between paraders and protesters has increased with each year and there is a strong police presence in all the major cities across the country. According to Dutch media, last year nearly 40 people were arrested and the majority among them were supporters of Black Pete. The black natives of the Netherlands call Black Pete as a 'racist caricature' and have also started a campaign called 'Zwarte Piet is Racisme' in 2011. Jerry Afriyie along with Quinsy Gario was the founder of anti-racism campaign and while talking to an international agency, Afriyie informed that bananas and eggs were thrown at the protesters by the paraders. The demonstrators were also called 'all types of racist slurs' and they were threatened by the natives who believe in their tradition.
This Dutch “tradition” called: “black pete” is disturbing! https://t.co/fF26SP99OT— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) November 17, 2019
The Black Pete tradition has sparked anger among many activists. However, according to a recent survey, 59 per cent of the people in the Netherlands still support Zwarte Piet which is a significant decline from 2013 statistics when 89 per cent people supported the tradition. One of the arguments by Black Pete supporters which has also been used by the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is that 'Black Pete is black'. In 2014, PM Rutte gave a controversial speech saying he can not change the name as he is black, and not any other colour. However, the exact origin of Black Pete is still a mixture of myth and controversy.
It’s not racism. It is Dutch tradition. https://t.co/CBEFhCgbnY— David Vance (@DVATW) November 16, 2019
Black Pete is great, children love him ! No racism involved.— Politiek Nederland (@NL__POLITIEK) November 17, 2019
It is all in the eye of the beholder. https://t.co/7lrIyTwDHf