TV appearance: the Dutch race issue

Another week, another media appearance by Dr. Dan: in yesterday’s broadcast of Dutch TV program ZOZ, hosted by Anil Ramdas, I was invited to chime in on the topic of racial insensitivity in the Netherlands. Having been more vocal than usual about my annoyance with the blatantly racist stereotype of Zwarte Piet (‘Black Pete’), St. Nicholas’s mischievous blackface helper, I got to join two other expat Americans in a fun half-hour discussion with history professor James Kennedy and comedian Greg Shapiro.

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7 Responses to TV appearance: the Dutch race issue

  1. I’m pretty annoyed by this discussion. I grew up in The Netherlands and have many expatfriends so the discussion passed pretty often. For me it’s as natural as for my babysis. Of course there’s a history behind it but it’s a childrens celebration, let them celebrate and don’t discuss anything these little children don’t care about! Zwarte Piet is Sinterklaas’ “gezellige” helper and leave it at that. It’s a part of culture and nothing more, noone is trying to offend anyone with Zwarte Piet.

  2. ha funny detail is that I’m not white! I’ve got African blood..
    I absolutely don’t demand anything and discussions are healthy it just tires me that we don’t speak about what the children think of this. Do you think they wonder about Zwarte Piets clothes or painted face when they get their presents?

    • I think it teaches many children that people with dark skin are strange, exotically clothed jesters who visit this country briefly before disappearing again without a trace. White skin therefore becomes the ‘neutral’ color, so those who are not white get to feel like they don’t really belong. Kids wouldn’t care if we decided to change the custom and have helpers who weren’t defined by their ‘blackness’, but who painted their faces in whatever color (the ‘Bonte Piet’ alternative). That way it wouldn’t continue to perpetuate the black-skinned, thick-lipped, curly-haired stereotype.

  3. Oh come on, seriously? To me it sounds just like you’ve had an unhappy childhood. Presents, that’s what counts! Not the political message behind obviously fake skin colours. My babysis lives in The Bijlmer in Amsterdam and knows very well how to behave to people with different skin colours. This is not a party created for adults but a party for kids ’till approximately 8. Parents should educate their children the differences between people and how to show them respect. Zwarte Piet is Zwarte Piet and nothing more. Are you also one of the reasons we don’t have anymore “negerzoenen”? Check my last post & see what they have in Sweden…. If one feels offended by something that’s not meant to offend he needs to seriously chill and start worrying about more important things in life…. is this what keeps you busy? Seriously?

  4. LCatipon says:

    Why aren’t there any Witte Piets?

  5. Pingback: Tintin in Africa: ‘not racist’ | Dr. Dan’s Medicine

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