The Netherlands appears to be reaching a crossroads on a longstanding, controversial Christmas tradition of dressing in blackface — with some cities halting the practice, while others keep it going amid growing protests.
Of course, we’re talking about the Sinterklaas parades that take place throughout the European country each year … which has been going strong for at least a century. If you’re unfamiliar, people take to the streets dressed as Zwarte Piet — AKA, Black Pete.
He’s supposed to be a helper for their version of Santa Claus, and he’s always depicted in blackface — with white folks all over the Netherlands donning the dark makeup.
Over the past few years though, more and more protesters have been taking to the streets decrying the tradition … calling it insensitive, outdated and racist. The parades got started nearly a week ago, and most of them have been met with demonstrators … as seen above.
As far as we can tell, only one major city thus far has yanked its plans to put on an official Sinterklaas parade — that would be in the city of Utrecht — but most haven’t pulled the plug yet. Cops have been on standby to make sure things stay peaceful.
Interestingly enough, Amsterdam usually hosts a Black Pete pageant to judge who can put together the best version of the fictional character. However, as of this year … they’re not sponsoring one, making it the second year in a row that they’ve refrained.
Obviously, nothing like this would ever pass in the U.S. — but in Europe, it’s a whole different ball game. Still, it would appear modern sensibilities are catching up with them too.