Zwarte Piet books removed from Dutch libraries

All books depicting Zwarte Piet are being removed from libraries across the Netherlands. Representatives of library organizations say the character is no longer considered acceptable and that removing the stereotypical depiction is a good thing.

Doing so has been discussed for some time, as Zwarte Piet has become increasingly controversial over the years. As the Dutch consider swapping out Zwarte Piet for Grijze Piet, and social media platforms ban images of Zwarte Piet, library organizations have finally decided that it is time to remove the character from their shelves.

The books will be sold for a small fee, or go to Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague as historical artifacts, reports RTL Nieuws. Tineke van Ham, director of a consultancy organization for libraries, celebrates this as a turning point.

A changing zeitgeist

Van Ham explains that the change is also about the demand from parents, who are increasingly against books with Zwarte Piet being presented to their children. “It doesn’t matter for white kids if Piet looks a bit different, but black kids don’t like [traditional Zwarte Piet] and that’s what is the problem.”

Anton Kok, director of the Association of Public Libraries (VOB), said, “Everywhere there is a growing realization that Zwarte Piet creates a stereotype of a certain part of the population and the libraries are moving along with this.” In doing so, he says, libraries are moving with the “spirit of the times”.

Support for Zwarte Piet falls considerably

Far fewer Dutchies are in favour of Zwarte Piet this year compared to last year, according to a survey by EenVandaag. Only 55% think the appearance of Zwarte Piet should not be changed, in comparison to 71% last year. The survey included 29,000 participants, many of whom now believe the character should be changed to the Sooty Piet.

What do you think about libraries removing the Zwarte Piet character? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Feature Image: Adam Winger/Unsplash

Emily Burger
Emily grew up in South Africa but has also lived in Egypt, the UK, Canada and now the Netherlands. She first came here for her Bachelors in Arts and Culture at Maastricht University and soon fell in love with the land of canals, clogs and cheese. When she's not daydreaming about sci-fi movies or countries yet to explore, you can find her writing for DutchReview.


    • It’s not all that surprising; the more Socialist a society/country becomes it inevitably becomes more Fascist. Socialists will not, indeed can not, tolerate free-thinking people. The demonization of Zwarte Piet is only the beginning!


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