Nat’l Sinterklaas show keeps blackface Zwarte Piet; Nickelodeon says no

Zwarte Pieten (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/EnSintClopedie). (Zwarte Pieten (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/EnSintClopedie))

The first episode of the Sinterklaasjournaal on Monday contained only blackface Zwarte Pieten. Popular children's channel Nickelodeon went the other way, with a multicultural team of Pieten, and not one of them wearing blackface makeup.

Monday night's episode of the Sinterklaasjournaal only introduced two Pieten, the Sinterklaas' helpers have not been addressed yet, according to NU. Last year's season of the popular kids show also, but later introduced a whole range of Pieten, ranging from black, to dark brown to , who steadily became darker as they went up and down chimneys.

Nickelodeon decided to address the topic right from the start in the channel's show Op weg naar pakjesavond - Sint vermist! The show featured a multicultural team of Pieten, none of them wearing blackface makeup. Last year the kids channel avoided the controversy completely by broadcasting a show featuring only Sinterklaas and no Pieten.

The Sinterklaasjournaal gives an important clue on how the appearance of Zwarte Piet will be handled, with many arrival committees and stores following the show's lead.

University of Groningen psychologist Gerrit Breeuwsma told newspaper AD that kids generally do not care about color and that the controversy surrounding the appearance of Zwarte Piet is mostly an adult problem. "For children Zwarte Piet may be blue, yellow or green. For them it is only about the gifts. The whole discussion about Zwarte Piet's color is mainly and adult problem", he said.