Friday, October 23, 2015 - 14:42
Rotterdam-area to keep blackface Zwarte Piet; Dutch municipalities denounce racism claim
The appearance of Zwarte Piet will only be adjusted in the city of Rotterdam itself, the rest of the Rotterdam area will be keeping Sinterklaas' helper in his traditional outfit and blackface makeup. Other Dutch municipalities are also sticking to the tradition. "We are keeping to the traditional Zwarte Piet", Margaret van der Heide-Zoeteman of the Stichting Evenementen Riddekerk, which is organizing Sinterklaas' annual arrival, said to newspaper AD. The same applies to the Pieten in Berkel and Rodenrijs, where the largest arrival of Lansigerland is organized. "Piet stays the same as last year." Schiedam, Vlaardingen and Maasluis will all have brown Pieten, as it has been for years. "That is what people in Maasluis want, there is absolutely no discussion about it", said Chris Kalkman, in charge of the organization of the arrival. Capelle aan den IJssel, Voorne-Putten and Hoekschewaard will also be sticking to traditional Pieten. The province of Friesland also does not see a reason to drastically change Zwarte Piet's appearance, several Sinterklaas arrival committees told the Friesch Dagblad. Leeuwarden, Sneek, Harlingen and Sint Nicolaasga will all have brown-skinned Pieten. The Pieten have not had frizzy hair, red lips and earrings for several years now, and these municipalities believe this is enough to prevent them from being seen as symbols of slavery. A survey Omroep Gelderland did among costume rental businesses in the province revealed that the majority of Gelderland customers are still going for the traditional Zwarte Piet. Boek de Sint in Leiden has only received 5 requests for different colored Pieten out of the total of 30 bookings. The rest of Gelderland seems to be following the same trend. A survey done by Tubantia in the communities around the Regge river in the Twente region of Overijssel revealed that the chance of encountering a non-black Zwarte Piet is very small. Primary schools and arrival committees in the matter. The general feeling seems to be that "there are other things to worry about".