Video: Zwarte Piet film director received death threats

Roger Williams, director of Zwarte Piet documentary Blackface (Photo: @RogerRossWill/Twitter)Roger Williams, director of Zwarte Piet documentary Blackface (Photo: @RogerRossWill/Twitter)

Roger Williams received death threats due to his Zwarte Piet documentary Blackface. The American director revealed this on RTL Late Night on Monday night.

"I am overwhelmed by all the reactions", Williams said on the show. "I got hate mail and I was threatened with death. I clearly hit a raw nerve." The director received thousands of letters. One warned him to watch out because he'll get a bullet in the back. Another called him a "black monkey". That is racism. And racism is wrong no matter what."

"If your tradition hurts other people, hurts black Dutch people. If one child goes to school and is called Black Pete and goes home crying, that's enough to change the tradition." the American director said when questioned about the argument that everyone should stay away from Dutch traditions. "If this is a party for children, it should be a party for all children. Not just white children in the Netherlands. Because black parents are keeping their children home from school rather than have them grow up with this stereotype that makes them feel inferior to the white kids.

Williams finds it unbelievable that Dutch cannot see the link between Zwarte Piet and slavery. "Slavery is rooted in Dutch history", he said. "Everyone abroad sees it, but in the Netherlands people don't want to see it. Even Donald Trump would not dare to paint his face black and he is a big racist."

Another guest argued that Zwarte Piet could also be seen as a positive black character as he brings gifts and sweets. "My skin, my hair is not a costume. It's not a caricature." Williams said in response. "It's not to be made fun of. And Black Pete is a bumbling idiot. He may bring presents and give candy to the kids, but this is a negative stereotype and it's making fun of who I am and my heritage."

Host Humberto Tan also expressed his opinion about Zwarte Piet, addressing an appeal to both the pro- and anti-Zwarte Piet camps. "We may have to change the tradition", Tan said. "Let us keep a cool head and a warm heart." He added that we must be able to see each other's point of view. "But let us make a mature discussion of it." Tan made a similar appeal on Facebook before the show on Monday.