Sinterklaas television host: Must drop Zwarte Piet blackface

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Sinterklaasjournaal host Dieuwertje Blok thinks that Zwarte Piet's traditional blackface appearance has to be phased out. "The Piet discussion has opened my eyes", she said in newspaper Trouw's weekly magazine Letter & Geest.

"I myself never associated Zwarte Piet with black people, for me he was a completely self-contained figure, but that says nothing about what other people feel", she said to the magazine. "The Sinterklaas festival does not stand or fall at the black color. I'm gradually starting to think that we should drop the blackface."

Blok is not calling for getting rid of blackface Zwarte Piet all at once. "Something like this must not be imposed from above, by politics or the Sinterklaasjournaal, but develop organically in the society. I think that process is already in motion."

This year a number of schools have already drawn up guidelines on making Zwarte Piet more socially acceptable. Organization SPO Utrecht completely banned Zwarte Piet from the 32 primary schools it governs. And all the primary schools in The Hague agreed to systematically get rid of Zwarte Piet features that can be considered discriminatory over the next three years.

The municipalities of Amsterdam, Meppel, Utrecht, The Hague and Maastricht also decided to systematically replace the traditional Zwarte Pieten with so-called Chimney Pieten - Sinterklaas helpers marked with ash and soot on their faces instead of traditional blackface makeup.