"Sinterklaas & Zwarte Piet (black face)" Racism & Slavery

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Erewhon
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18 Aug 2019, 8:41 am

There is a region on the planet its called Netherlands and Vlaanderen, some people call it a country. And in that region of the planet there is every december the celebration of "Sinterklaas"
The word Sinterklaas is a bit similar to SantaClaus, also the way that Sinterklaas and SantaClaus looks like is similar, but they are not the same, they are different. The religious Sinterklaas gives little children presents and gifts. In fact the parents of the children buy and give the presents but in the tradition the children get fooled by telling that Sinterklaas is the good person. That Sinterklaas is a good person is controversial, some people say that the celebration holds a ugly form of racism and slavery, i agree that. The helpers from Sinterklaas have a black face, and they are treated like "lower" humans. Its not difficult to see racism and slavery in it. When i was a little child i didnt see that, it was "normal" for me.

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naturalplastic
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18 Aug 2019, 11:47 am

New York state was a Dutch colony before it got absorbed into the original 13 British colonies of north America that became the USA.

Supposedly the little children of the Dutch settlers would talk about "Sinterklaas" when playing with their English neighbor kids in colonial New York. And Sinterklaas morphed into "Santa Claus" (the American version of the world meme of Father Christmas that ultimately traces back to a real St. Nicholas who lived in late Roman Turkey.

So the similarity is not an accident, but is actually "genetic" between the Dutch and the American versions of Father Christmas.

Am not an expert but one time a few years ago I was listening to a Christmas season edition of Garrison Keillor's Praries Home Campanion radio show. On it a lady guest gave a rundown of each European nation's variation of father Xmas, and how he is said to operate (each country varies, but they are all ludicrous and laughable).

She mentioned your Dutch thing. Apparently those black faced guys who assist Sinterklaas were ...openly identified as Santa's "slaves". That all of the way up until the 1950's. They officially changed it in the Fifties: from calling the guys "Santa's Slaves" to calling them "Santa's Friends". :lol:

But that's progress. :D

But his ..friends., apparently also hafta go down chimneys. So they get ashes on their faces like chimney sweeps.

So that throws another complication into the mix. Do models who portray the characters do black face? And if so do they do black face because of the characters' race (ala Al Jolson)? Or are they doing black face because of their chimney diving profession (ala Dick Vandyke in Mary Poppins)? And does it make a difference in political correctness?



Erewhon
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21 Aug 2019, 10:16 am

Its good possible Naturalplastic that Sinterklaas & Santa Claus have influence each other in a etymology way.
My point in my post is not Santa Claus, but the racism in the celebration of Sinterklaas and his ''lower" zwarte Piet.
Sinterklaas is so deep in the dutch culture that changing goes very slowly, step by step. In the bigger places goes changing faster than in the more conservative countrysite.



'Apartheid' is also a word which is known widely around the planet.



naturalplastic
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21 Aug 2019, 3:44 pm

Interesting.

The history is interesting.

The conundrum is interesting.

Not sure how I would have Belgians deal with it.



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21 Aug 2019, 4:27 pm

Sinterklaas is not as fat and jolly as Santa Claus.



Erewhon
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22 Aug 2019, 6:13 am

There is a culture difference between Netherlands and Belgium ( the flemisch part of Belgium) , but in the way both see Sinterklaas i dont see much difference. In both area there are pro and contra.

When i was a child i didnt aware about the racistic stereotype of zwarte Piet. That i did not aware it means not that i did like Sinterklaas at a young age. Sinterklaas did make me afraid, he always did carry a big book with him, and in dat book was full of everything, Sinterklaas knew everything, if you have do something wrong in the last year he knew it. And iff you have been nauthy he putt you in a bagg, and took the bad children on his boat to Spain.
Because of all this fooling and lying against children make a extra stimulation against religion.
By the way, Sinterklaas is Catholic, so i dont think that the real powers in the USA shall stimulate to introduce it as a new celebration there.

I dont like to have a beard for myself, but in the beard from Sinterklaas i try to see the reincarnation from Charles Darwin :)



naturalplastic
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22 Aug 2019, 2:54 pm

Erewhon wrote:
There is a culture difference between Netherlands and Belgium ( the flemisch part of Belgium) , but in the way both see Sinterklaas i dont see much difference. In both area there are pro and contra.

When i was a child i didnt aware about the racistic stereotype of zwarte Piet. That i did not aware it means not that i did like Sinterklaas at a young age. Sinterklaas did make me afraid, he always did carry a big book with him, and in dat book was full of everything, Sinterklaas knew everything, if you have do something wrong in the last year he knew it. And iff you have been nauthy he putt you in a bagg, and took the bad children on his boat to Spain.
Because of all this fooling and lying against children make a extra stimulation against religion.
By the way, Sinterklaas is Catholic, so i dont think that the real powers in the USA shall stimulate to introduce it as a new celebration there.

I dont like to have a beard for myself, but in the beard from Sinterklaas i try to see the reincarnation from Charles Darwin :)


Interesting.

Sinterklaas seems to be more stern than our Santa Clause. Yes- SC does "make a list, and checks it twice, to see who has been naught and nice" (as the pop song goes). And naughty children are said to get "lumps of coal" instead of nice gifts. But in America its the giving side that is stressed, and not the punishing side of his role. Never heard of an American kid being afraid of SC coming at them through the chimney. They all wanna stay up and meet him. Indeed Santa is sorta taken as a symbol of the spirt of generosity itself at the holiday season. Part of the season in America is reading that famous letter written to a little girl circa 1900 by a newspaper editor who reassured her that "yes Virginia, there IS a SC". The letter is taken two ways (by kids to mean he literally exists, and by grownups to mean that he exists in spirit at the holiday season).

Interesting that naughty children in the low countries are...taken off to Spain (of all places). I wonder if that is a legacy of the Spanish Inquisition? Or maybe of the 60 years war when the low countries were fighting against their Spanish rulers?.

How do they celebrate Christmas in the French speaking south of Belgium? How does compare to the Flemish, and Dutch, way that we are talking about? Is the South Belgian version of Father Christmas, and of doing Xmas, similar to how they do it in France?

Darwin as Santa Clause? Maybe his theory could be thought of as "a gift that keeps on giving". Lol!



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22 Aug 2019, 3:12 pm

French-speaking Belgians (Walloons) have Saint Nicholas fulfilling the same function, minus zwarte Piet. Different heritage.


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Erewhon
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12 Oct 2019, 11:09 am

Nice to read BenderRodriguez.

When i was a child, i think it was at a age of 10 years old i did make the drawing below. It was just a fantasy drawing.
Many years later i called the drawing "modern Sinterklaas" A kind of Rainbow-Sinterklaas, all collors matters.
The last weeks there a several thing in the dutch media that blackface-peet is changing into a chimney-peet, at least in the bigger citys. I the country side it will take longer to kick away the racist stereotype. I hope that controversial Joe Biden also kicked away in the new elections, for the same reason.


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naturalplastic
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12 Oct 2019, 11:17 am

Nice work for a ten year old.

Looks like a Mardi Gras reveler in New Orleans, or in Rio. .

Id vote for that ...as a possible new face for Santa Clause. :)



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13 Oct 2019, 12:52 pm

There's a similar controversy here in the UK about the wearing of black-face in some forms of Morris dancing, particularly the Border Morris dance teams of the Welsh-English border counties. As with the the Sinterklaas celebrations, there are several competing explanations for why Morris dancers might wear black-face. The word "Morris" itself is often said to be derived from "Moorish" (i.e. the North-African and Spanish Muslims of medieval times), as a euphemism for "pagan" because the dances were once frowned upon by the Christian establishment. It's sometimes claimed that the black-face was a disguise emulating the blackened faces of the local coal miners, intended to make the dancers harder to identify in the days when dancing for charitable donations was construed as illegal begging. However, it's also suggested that the disguises only became specifically black-face due to the influence of minstrel shows much later, and there are well documented references to it being called "niggering".

Al Jolson is an interesting case, as in his time he was seen by many black people, especially black performers, as very much a friend of black people. He was well known for using his status as the biggest "pop star" of his day to insist on equal pay and conditions for black performers, and often risked censure for breaking the apartheid rules of the places where he played and where he went socially with black friends. He was conscious that introducing black culture to a white audience was a form of what we'd now call "appropriation", and felt strongly that black performers should be allowed by venues to represent their culture for themselves. When he died, huge numbers of black people came out to watch his funeral procession, and representatives of black performers' associations attended his funeral.

However, I don't think that any of this necessarily makes it right or inoffensive to do these things in this day and age. Such practices aren't isolated in a cultural vacuum and should be viewed in the light of race relations in its broadest sense - their historical basis is moot if they encourage racism in practice, IMHO.


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13 Oct 2019, 1:11 pm

naturalplastic wrote:
Interesting that naughty children in the low countries are...taken off to Spain (of all places). I wonder if that is a legacy of the Spanish Inquisition? Or maybe of the 60 years war when the low countries were fighting against their Spanish rulers?.

I would say that's very likely the connection, especially in light of the Low Countries being the heartland of early Protestantism in continental Europe.


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14 Oct 2019, 7:21 am

[quote="naturalplastic"]So that throws another complication into the mix. Do models who portray the characters do black face? And if so do they do black face because of the characters' race (ala Al Jolson)? Or are they doing black face because of their chimney diving profession (ala Dick Vandyke in Mary Poppins)? And does it make a difference in political correctness?quote]

Interesting question. Would it be OK for Santa to be a slave owner so long as he wasn't a racist slave owner?


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Erewhon
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17 Nov 2019, 1:11 am

In december its his birthday, but yesterday he came with his boat from Spain. This year it was lesser violence.

@ Everybody in USA, please dont tell the racist Joe Biden about this tradition.



naturalplastic
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17 Nov 2019, 4:19 am

Erewhon wrote:
In december its his birthday, but yesterday he came with his boat from Spain. This year it was lesser violence.

@ Everybody in USA, please dont tell the racist Joe Biden about this tradition.



Huh?

I think that you have the "USA" confused with Canada, and have "Biden" confused with Trudeau.

If Trudeau were see this thread he would get a new excuse to do blackface...like an alcoholic who finds a new excuse to fall off the wagon and take a drink! :lol: