Zwarte Piet caps on slavery monument reheats debate

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No image availableNL Times

A previously unknown group of activists has claimed responsibility for the Youtube film that shows Zwarte Piet caps on the heads of the human figures in the slavery monument in Amsterdam. The prank has reheated and sprawled the ongoing heated debate about the black-face tradition in The Netherlands.

The “Django Commando” group said in an email to AT5 TV station on Monday that placing the cap was meant as a statement against slavery. The group said that “Zwarte Piet is a symbol that in the past enabled slavery and today enables the exploitation and discrimination of illegals and non-whites.”

The email said the “Django Commando” strives for a world in which one doesn’t just once a year receive a gift from a white Christian man with his servants, but one in which you give your fellow man a treat every day, no matter his color, origin, sexual orientation or gender.”

The video appeared as Sinterklaas made his way into Dutch cities over the weekend, accompanied by his embattled servant Zwarte Piet, a caricature who’s existence has been the subject of heated debate the past couple of months. While many conventionalist Dutch people consider Zwarte Piet an innocent and cherished tradition, many Black people find his existence offensive.

That Zwarte Piet caps were placed on the slavery monument in Oosterpark, thus initially sparked disgust on Sunday; the disgust spawned into bewilderment on Monday when the “Django Commando” claimed the prank. “No matter what they did it for, it is tasteless. There are other ways to bring a message across,” one person reacted.