Tuesday, December 4, 2012

HairTroversy: Is Dutch Tradition of "Black Pete" Wearing an Afro Racist?

By Tenisha Mercer

Is "Black Pete," a Dutch holiday tradition, racist? -- Photo Credit: Associated Press
"Black Pete," a long-standing Dutch holiday tradition that honors St. Nicholas' helpers with celebrants dressing up in a costume of an Afro wig, thick red lips and black face, is drawing sharp criticism and allegations of racism.

Critics say the "Black Pete" outfit resembles racist caricatures of Black people, though it's only been in the past few years that anyone has dared speak out against the tradition.  The holiday tradition is known as Zwarte Piet — whose name means "Black Pete" in English. Supporters insist on upholding the tradition and say it's a harmless fictional figure that doesn't represent race.

But a growing number of people are saying the figure is racist. Last year, there were even protests.  And at least one influential website has called for celebrating the practice with the now controversial figure to end.

I think it's as racist as they come, apparently it is the Dutch version of Amos and Andy and Sambo. It's clear to me that they are demeaning a Black person; just because it's not in the U.S. doesn't make it any better.

What do you think?

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