YouTube will not ban blackface Zwarte Piet this year
Youtube will not prohibit the portrayal of Zwarte Piet in blackface makeup on its platform this year, according to parent company Google.
Zwarte Piet is the name given to Sinterklaas's assistant. Actors portraying the character have often used makeup to darken their skin color and make their lips redder and larger. They often wear curly black wigs and an earring. The costume has been deemed a racist depiction by movements around the Netherlands and across the world, but others say that the darker skin and hair color is the result of climbing in and out of chimneys.
Google "does not want to get in the way of the discussion about Zwarte Piet," a spokeperson told Nu.nl
Though Google will not ban the portrayal of Zwarte Piet, they did announce last year that content depicting the character will not be monetized with advertising. These guidelines also apply to Piets with smudges and smears instead of a fully darkened skin color. The monetization policy does not extend to journalistic or educational videos.
Also last year, Facebook and Instagram banned images of Zwarte Piet as part of a global policy against the use of racist and anti-Semitic imagery. The ban comes with exceptions. A spokesperson likens the situation to the portrayal of animal abuse: "Showing abused animals is not allowed. But the problem should not be glossed over. An animal rights activist still wants to show what is wrong with the treatment of animals in certain cases. Those horrific images are normally not allowed, but if you want to make your point, you should be able to do so."
Images of the Piets as part of the news or without darkened features are still allowed on the platforms.