No more blackface in Dutch military winter celebrations
The Ministry of Defense will no longer have any blackface Zwarte Pieten at its Sinterklaas celebrations. From now on the Defense Sinterklaas parties will only have Pieten which "radiate diversity", Secretary General Gea van Craaikamp and Commander of the Armed Forces Rob Bauer said in a letter, according to NU.nl.
A spokesperson for Defense told the newspaper that, as far as he knows, there was no major internal criticism of the blackface Sinterklaas character, but that the choice was made to "go with the times".
In their letter, Van Craaikamp and Bauer stressed that they are not saying goodbye to Piet himself, only to the "traditional black appearance". They said that the use of blackface could lead to stereotypes and the character could be hurtful to people who are part of the Defense organization. "It is time to say goodbye to this tradition," they said. "Although it predates some parts of our military."
Exactly how Defense will celebrate the arrival of Sinterklaas this year, is not yet clear.