As 2018 fast approaches, one old practice that seems good and buried in the modern world is that of Blackface. One only need look at the almost instant attacks faced by any person who dared don the dark makeup in recent memory for proof of this. But what if I told you there remains one Western culture that even in this modern age of political correctness, has not only stubbornly clung on to the tradition. But even stranger, tied it to the celebration of Christmas of all things?
This use of blackface stems from the fact that the Dutch people have their own unique variation on the legend of old St. Nicholas. While we might all take for granted the fact that Santa has his helper elves at hand. For the Dutch, these elves are largely replaced in function by Santa’s special assistant Black Pete. It’s an attempt to dress as this loyal helper of Santa, that every year causes many across both the Netherlands and Belgium to adorn themselves in full blackface, complete with big red lips and afro wigs.
So just who is Black Pete you ask? Obviously the Christmas traditions in this part of Europe don’t match the ones most Americans would be familiar with. No reindeer or elf’s present here. Instead Santa or as the Dutch call him Sinterklass, arrives in Holland every year by boat. With a team of black assistants in tow rather then elf’s. These assistants are led by a leader by the name of Zwarte Piet or as we would call him, Black Pete.
Despite the characters rich history in Dutch culture and continued endurance into the modern day, that is not to say powerful forces aren’t at work attempting to erase this particular part of the local Christmas legend from history. In fact, a local court ruled just back in 2014 that Black Pete could not be part of Amsterdam’s annual Christmas parade due to the perceived racial insensitivity of the character. While a strong public outcry from those defending the characters longstanding role in the celebrations did in fact later on lead to a higher court overturning the prior ruling. This legal battle did still eventually lead to the parade organizers announcing they would slowly and voluntarily begin working to remove the allegedly “racist” figure from the celebration in coming years.
While the idea of courts forcibly removing a cultures own longstanding folklore traditions may seem ridiculous, it fits the modern trend of Leftist forces working to alter history and remove anything they deem offensive. Despite of course that beyond physical appearance, Black Pete has never been portrayed in anything less than a favorable light and at the end of the day remains just Santa’s black best friend. That hasn’t stopped the social justice warrior crowd from demanding his removal from the holiday, with calls to erase the character from history only seeming to increase every year.
In fact the leaders of Amsterdam just last Christmas began the final push to purge the remnants of Black Pete from official holiday proceedings. With the character being replaced by a new creation, Chimney Pete. Gone is the afro, red lips, and full blackface. Now the costume involves just a slight bit of soot dusted on the new Pete’s face, allegedly gained from going down chimney’s. Last year despite initially promising they would not implement a full ban on the traditional Black Pete character, the city of Amsterdam announced that only Chimney Pete’s would be allowed to participate in the 2016 holiday season. Much to the displeasure of native majority Dutch residents of the city.
Many local Dutch are still keeping up the good fight in the name of their heritage and local traditions however. In fact just last month even, pro Black Pete protesters went so far as to obstruct highway access into the city of Dokkum, in an attempt to keep Anti Black Pete protesters out. The protest got so heated between the two sides that that the mayor of Dokkam eventually forbade the protests out of concerns of full on rioting breaking out. For now at least thanks to the efforts of brave locals like these the tradition lives on, but for how long depends on the continued willingness of the Dutch people to fight for their own culture and people. Something that many Western cultures and people’s seem increasingly unwilling to do.
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