United Nations brands Dutch Christmas character 'Black Pete' a 'vestige of slavery'

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, May 30, 2024

United Nations brands Dutch Christmas character 'Black Pete' a 'vestige of slavery'
Zwartepiet by EnSintClopedie. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

THE HAGUE (AFP).- The United Nations called a Dutch character who appears in blackface every Christmas a "vestige of slavery" and said Friday that The Netherlands should begin overturning the popular tradition.

But Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the fate of "Black Pete", a sidekick of the Dutch Saint Nicholas, is not up to his government, calling the controversy a "social issue" rather than a matter of state. 

"Zwarte Piete", or Black Pete, appears traditionally dressed in a gaudy medieval costume with a blackened face, red lips and an afro wig to help Saint Nicholas hand out gifts to children. 

The character sparks an annual divide on racism in The Netherlands, with many branding him a racist stereotype dating from the colonial era. 

Black Pete's defenders say he is black from coming down the chimney, and refuse to admit there might be anything racist about the character.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said in a report Friday that the character was "sometimes portrayed in a way that reflects negative stereotypes" and is seen as "a vestige of slavery" by many people.

"Considering that even deeply rooted cultural traditions do not justify discriminatory practices and stereotypes, the committee recommends that the state promotes actively removing these characteristics that reflect negative stereotypes," the report said.

But Rutte said it was not up to his government to ban popular traditions.

"This is a social issue and not a political issue," he said.

After a particularly heated debate in 2014 other Petes were introduced for the first time: "Cheese Petes" with yellow faces, "Stroopwafel Petes" with striped, light brown faces resembling the traditional Dutch syrup biscuit of the same name and a white-faced "Clown Pete".

© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

Today's News

August 30, 2015

'The Haywain' by Jheronimus Bosch back in the Netherlands after centuries

Rarely seen masterpieces of 17th-century Dutch painting on view at Kunsthaus Zurich

United Nations brands Dutch Christmas character 'Black Pete' a 'vestige of slavery'

Gemäldegalerie returns two paintings from the former Zeughaus collection to the Deutschen Historischen Museum

Polish 'gold train' city of Walbrzych basks in Loch Ness Monster effect

Exhibition of new work by British artist Martin Creed opens at Hauser & Wirth Zurich

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum opens exhibition honoring Sun Records founder Sam Phillips

British landscapes show brings legendary painters to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Carpenters Workshop Gallery opens exhibition of works by Atelier Van Lieshout

Satellite images confirm Palmyra temple destruction: UN training and research agency UNITAR

'Led Zeppelin from the Beginning 1963 - 1975' on view at Proud Chelsea in London

Blanton Museum of Art exhibits new acquisitions by Texas native Donald Moffett

Syracuse University presents 'James Rosenquist: Illustrious Works on Paper, Illuminating Paintings'

World records set at Bonhams Hong Kong Whisky auction

The Rockwell Museum receives support from M&T Bank to continue Artist in Residence program

The Print Center announces three new appointments

Foam opens exhibition of works by the winner of the Foam Paul Huf Award 2015

Artists explore surveillance, security, data collection, privacy, and democracy in new exhibition

Bonhams announces first 'Most Affordable Luxury' Auction to be held in September

Phillips appoints Sam Hines as International Head of Watches

Office for Contemporary Art Norway presents a project by Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri with Ben Morea

Guan Wei wins the 2015 Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize with Beach 5

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

Royalville Communications, Inc

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful