Arnhem and Nijmegen ban Zwarte Piet following anti-racism protests

More Dutch cities are banning Zwarte Piet and blackface from their Sinterklaas celebrations this year. Arnhem and Nijmegen have both decided to join other cities in banning the racist caricature.

Both cities had large protests against racism and police brutality last week. Protests swept the Netherlands– and indeed, much of the world- following the death of George Floyd in May in the US. Floyd died after a police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes.

In Arnhem, several parties banded together in the city council to reach a majority. They were able to ban “the racist caricature, Zwarte Piet”. According to the GroenLinks representative there, the recent protests have shown them how much anti-racist work needs to be done in the municipality. “The protests against racism have shown us that we still have many steps to take, this is just one.”

In Nijmegen, GroenLinks, PvdA and Partij voor de Dieren collaborated again to create a motion to ban Zwarte Piet. According to them, the anti-racism protests have shown that many people in the city find the caricature hurtful and racist. The municipality has decided that the Sinterklaas Intocht will not receive any funding if they have blackface characters involved in the celebration.

Mark Rutte has also changed his opinion on Zwarte Piet as a result of the protests, noting that institution racism is present and harmful in the Netherlands. Most municipalities are replacing Zwarte Piet with Sooty Piet.

Will more municipalities join in banning Zwarte Piet? Let us know your predictions in the comments below.

Feature Image: DutchReview/Canva

Ailish Lalor
Ailish Lalor
Ailish was born in Sydney, Australia, but grew up by a forest in south-east Ireland, which she has attempted to replace with a living room filled with plants in The Hague. Besides catering to her army of pannenkoekenplantjes, Ailish spends her days convincing her friends that all food is better slightly burnt, plotting ways to hang out with dogs and cats, and of course, writing for DutchReview.


  1. Instead of Zwarte Piet or Sooty Piet, this suggestion from a Dutch born old age pensioner living in Africa: Witte Willems and Witte Wilhelmina’s. White face powder or something like that would be easy to apply and the name has got some Dutch sound to it, I think. But only if our king does not mind. Instead of the traditional bag, the Witte Willems and Wilhelmina’s could be carrying a white sheet, for the pepernoten or for wrapping up the naughty children… With some Dutch ingenuity we could come up with some nice details and a good story to explain it all.


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