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Zwarte Piet is Racisme — or “Black Peter is Racism” — might as well be Dutch for “shots fired.”
Activist Quinsy Gario was recently beaten and arrested for publicly protesting — and using that highly charged slogan — at a Dutch Christmas celebration in an attempt to call attention to a very simple fact: The depiction of Zwarte Piet, a beloved Santa’s-helper folk character in the Netherlands, is racist. Every year on St. Nicholas Eve, a Dec. 5 holiday in honor of Santa Claus, scores of celebrators apply garish blackface and take to the streets dressed as Zwarte Piet.
Gario’s protest isn’t the first time Piet has come under scrutiny. Flavia Dzodan, a South American-born, Amsterdam-based activist and author of the blog Red Light Politics, did not mince words in a conversation with The Root.
“I am afraid to say — and I know this will not go down well with many Dutch white people — that Black Pete is tainted beyond redemption,” she said. “There is no redeemable quality in this character in its current incarnation. There is no going around the racist nature of a character that acts as a de facto slave for a white saint, who is portrayed as clumsy and mischievous, who is used as an instrument to instill fear in children who misbehave.”
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Activist Beaten For Protesting Racist Dutch Christmas Tradition