Just a few days ago Amsterdam dropped a bomb on the rest of the country, not an actual thankfully, but culturally it certainly was. In line with its progressive culture the capital city crossed out “Black Piet” once and for all. Piet’s completely black face is over and done with, from now he (or she) will have some soot on their face and a fancy costume but that is it.
It caused quite the upheaval, especially among the closeted racist who seek an opportunity to unload with any excuse, but the city persisted. This is the new Piet, and the party is for all. So far so good, right? Well…
From Soot Black to Spanish Nobility – An Improvement for Piet?
The city’s experts spent a significant amount of time re-designing Piet from its once Moorish roots and disputed ‘ chimney sweeper’-past to making them more modern, proud and accessible to everyone. Eventually, the decision fell back on Sinterklaas’ home base – Spain, with its rich past of noblemen and women who wore costumes much alike that of Piet with rich colors and fabrics, feathered hat and typical pants. In the eyes of the city and the test groups this was an upgrade that loyal Piet finally deserved – who more deserves promotion than a servant who’s been climbing the roofs for centuries to slide down the chimney to deliver gifts to kids? But not everyone agrees!
“Trading in One Evil for Another” – Are They Right?
According to the National Historic Platform for Slavery the new ‘Piet’ is just as bad as the other. Even though the new Piet has been ‘de-Africanized’ and no longer bears the name ‘Black’, the Platform insists that the new Piet is just as much about slavery.
Head of the Platform, Barryl Biekman, states that Spanish nobility was wholly responsible for slavery and human rights violations across the board. “It’s important that one evil is not traded in for another”, he said, “These were criminals. People with money who funded slavery, if anyone should know that it’s the Netherlands and it’s 80 Year War against the Spanish Empire.”
According to Biekman there’s a real danger that school children will now start admiring figures of Spanish nobility and all the wrong they did.
The Platform has sent the city an angry letter and has stated that it expects action to be taken or that it will take matters to the UN “Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination”, of which Holland is a member.
The city of Amsterdam is a little sad and baffled by this new development, a spokesperson said: “We’ve never been approached by the National Platform about this matter, and all the while we’ve been working to remove ‘racist’-expressions since 2014.”
What’s your view on matters? Was it a good step to replace ‘Black Piet’ with ‘Spanish Piet’? Is it still not enough? Or is the National Historic Platform for Slavery taking it too far? Let us know in the Facebook comments!