Tuesday, November 29, 2011

black peter

There's a lot of things us Dutch can be proud of -Mondriaan, Vermeer, Cruijff, my dad, Rembrandt, interesting legal herbs, enormous skies- and some we're rightfully ashamed of (apartheid, Indonesia, 2Unlimited), and then there's some questionable stuff. I've had to explain the concept of 'Zwarte Piet' (Black Peter) more often than i care to, but pictures say a lot:

zwarte piet plus trompet

I don't know if it's racist or not. I'm inclined to think not -it's a holiday thing for the kids- but i've had black friends visiting and raising an eyebrow. It's a little close to golliwog. I hope it's more innocent than that

zwarte piet plus drum

But sometimes it looks just plain wrong

zwarte piet plus smoke

It reminds me of a story my dad was fond of telling me. He had an African colleague at school, and when i first saw the man -i must've been around 4 years old- i went up to him and asked him: "You're Black Peter, aren't you?" He asked: "How can you tell?" I got shy and said: "By your curly hair."

No comments: