“The tradition is supposed to be about inclusion and solidarity. So why do we want it to be connected with something racist from our past?"
What we’ve been doing since June is trying to start a dialogue with people so they can get the facts about the history of Zwarte Piet. What happens a lot when you talk with people here is that they lose themselves to an emotional view. They tend to get stuck in what they see as something good from childhood, something that is intrinsically Dutch and shouldn’t be changed.
“Only politically correct people have a problem with Zwarte Piet”
In the Netherlands, Sinterklaas is an even bigger holiday than Christmas. In my youth, Zwarte Piet was a much more aggressive, scary character. If you misbehaved, Zwarte Piet would put you in a sack and carry you off to Spain. He also had a sack of twigs that he would lash you with as a punishment. Of course these things were never really done – it was just a story to frighten naughty children.
These days Zwarte Piet is much nicer. He gives you sweeties and throws them around everywhere. In preparation for December 5, you are supposed to put your shoes in front of the fireplace and you leave something inside for Sinterklass's white horse to eat. At night, Zwarte Piet reaches down through the chimney and leaves a present in your shoe. The next day the children are very excited when they wake up in the morning.
Of course there is a kind of discrimination against people who are different from others. It’s human nature. But Zwarte Piet isn’t about that. Only politically correct people have a problem with his character. They’re creating a problem where there isn’t one.
Luckily the Netherlands isn’t as politically correct as they are in the United States – we can make fun of the whole thing”.