A big thank you to The Internet for revealing these celebrities’ special microbes:
Currently, in The Netherlands, it’s the time of the national festival of St Nicholas. It’s a very old and populair Dutch tradition. Already since more then 500 years St Nicholas is celebrated as a family festivity with focus on the joy of the children. St Nicholas is a wise old saint who is a friend of everyone, especially of the children. He has a team of cheerful servants, they’re called Black Pete. It’s very possible that, people from far outside the Netherlands, have already heard of them because that’s where things start to be weird… Black Pete is generally played by a white person with a black painted face, red painted lips, topped with a black curly wig. Yes this basically blackface make-up, and gives the racist impression of expressing a caricature of a black person.
Even though it might be hard to understand for people outside the Netherlands, but St Nicholas festival is not meant to be racist. All Dutch people love Black Pete and the children see them as their great friend. Yet, in stark contrast with the overall joy of the folkloric tradition, the Black Pete persona brings a lot of controversy and debate in the country. Watch this video for more insights.
The supporters of Black Pete, who don’t see the figure as racist, want to honour the Dutch folkloric festival the way it is. For them, Black Pete is an important part of Dutch culture and needs to be honoured. In the contrary, you have people that feel hurt and offended by Black Pete. They find it a racist figure with obvious connotations with the Dutch slave trade. The Black Pete opponents want to keep celebrating St Nicholas but with an updated version of Black Pete, free from its racist features.
Protest voices, especially from Dutch people with a Surinam and Antillean background, raised in the early 80s. Despite their request for a more respectful ‘Pete’, not much changed. Understandably, since the last couple of years the presence and loudness of the anti-Black-Pete voice is increasing. We as a half Dutch artist duo, believe that the wish to update Black Pete is very rightful, better said… crucial. To be frank, we’re ashamed for the Black Pete figure as a representative of Dutch culture.
To celebrate positive change, and to exprebs the excitement that new choices and new customs can bring, we made some sketch collages of contemporary Dream Pete’s. With this blog post we want to express our position in the Black Pete debate (we actually really can’t believe that this debate is still going on!) and share our strong wish that Black Pete gets a gracious metamorphose that is joyous for everyone, and evidently not hurtful for people with a different background.
Happy Sint Nicholas celebration to ALL people of The Netherlands xxxx