Children’s traditions shouldn’t involve racist caricatures
Translated by Thomas Ansell
Members of Leeuwarden’s city council from the PAL/GroenLinks party want to put an end to the ‘traditional’ black-face Zwarte Piet character in the city. The racist costumes are regularly donned by white people during the Sinterklaas festival in December.
As reported by the Omrop Fryslân, in September it became clear that the large ‘Sinterklaas entry’ party in Leeuwarden was to be cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The organising committee at the time said they had ‘no time to think about the colour of our Piets’.
Strangely enough, that wasn’t considered good enough by members of PAL/GroenLinks, who are the joint-second largest party in the city council. The faction now wants a definitive end to the ‘tradition’.
“All around us, Zwarte Piet has been abandoned, but we’re just sitting on our hands here”, says Femke Molenaar, of PAL/GroenLinks. All across the country, GroenLinks factions have put forward motions to ban the caricature in official events. “We’ve made a choice with our eyes open [to put a ban in place], with reference to societal developments”, says Molenaar.
However, because the organisers of the Sinterklaas parade have remained silent throughout September and October, the council faction have decided to take action. “Recently we had a large protest in the open air, with other protests in 27 other gemeentes”, says Molenaar.
PAL/GroenLinks want the Sinterklaas committee to engage in dialogue about removing Zwarte Piet, rather than standing in the way of action.