I think everyone who lives in the Netherlands knows what it is about with the Black Pete story or better said: discussion. Participant or not, that discussion will always be there a few months before Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas is the celebration, the tradition, the annual folk festival, where you can find Black Pete. It’s celebrated in the Netherlands and Belgium.
There was a time when I didn’t see the racism in Black Pete. I grew up with him as almost everyone here in the Netherlands. To me he was just a funny guy who belongs to the Sinterklaas celebration. And when Sinterklaas was in the country, I got presents. What child doesn’t love presents? And honestly, I even once played Black Pete in high school. Now I’m a little bit ashamed of that, but I didn’t know better. Nothing or no one indicated that Black Pete has racist elements.
Now, years later, after my facial paint incident my knowledge has broadened. I’ve talked to many people. I read a lot about the history of slavery. I studied arguments from both sides and I thought about it a lot. To this day, I’m still fed with knowledge.
My opinion is that Black Pete has to be adjusted. Instead of a black painted face with red lips, frizzy hair and gold earrings give him black streaks from the chimney.
Unfortunately, that is just one tip of all racism in the world. I think one of the biggest problems of racism is that many cultures do not mix with each other and therefore know nothing about other cultures.
And ignorance gives fear and fear gives resistance and resistance indicates a lack of understanding and so on and so forth.
“More the knowledge lesser the ego. Lesser the knowledge more the ego.” – Albert Einstein
I think we can change that by expanding history lessons in schools and to combine that with teaching about different cultures. In 8th grade (in the Netherlands I was 12 years old) I did a lecture about Martin Luther King, but the racist elements in Black Pete I did not see. And why are so many people afraid of Islam? We simply know too little about Islam.
With knowledge can arise understanding, with understanding and compassion with compassion love.
“There is no wealth like knowledge, and no poverty like ignorance.”