Greg Shapiro: Digging the zwarte hole deeper

Making fun of and criticising the Zwarte Piet tradition has generated a lot of negative and not so negative reactions, says Greg Shapiro.

In the process of performing our comedy show about Sinterklaas & Zwarte Piet, we’ve been getting lots of comments from Dutch people. What’s funny to me is how many comments make their argument worse.

The following are reactions to my articles on & (translation by Google Translate / Shapiro)

Here’s how Dutch people argue ‘We’re not racist:’

‘It’s completely innocent. It’s for little kids.’

If that’s true, then little kids should know the difference between blackface and black people. But – as my kid points out – it isn’t so.

After the show, a Dutch woman came up and asked ‘Are you making it up? The part about your daughter pointing to a black person as Zwarte Piet’ No! It happens all the time!

– ‘I was in a café yesterday where an African-looking man got laughed at. He took offense at a 4 year-old kid who called him Zwarte Piet. The kid was only 4 years old! The man told the parents they should tell their child the difference. No hat, no feather, no Zwarte Piet. They laughed. Then he said maybe he should go away to buy some gifts to give out. If you ask me, this man was asking for it.’

It makes me wonder what would Dutch people say if they’d move to another country with a lovable character called ‘Buck-tooth Dutchie’ where everyone dressed up as Anky van Grunsven. ‘But we love all you bony, buck-toothed square-faced Dutch people,’ they’d say. ‘And you don’t have the right to be offended.’

Here are some more Dutch people arguing that they are not racist.

– ‘Every year, you people feel discriminated because of a little black makeup? Show a little character.’

– ‘These complainers are just hyper-correct white people or aggrieved descendants of slavery who look for a reason to complain. They’re just the latest batch of moochers who would rather complain about nothing than do something with their lives.’

– ‘Non-white people who complain should start their own tradition of dressing up in sandals & long hair because they’re all doing one big hippie imitation.’

And then of course, there’s the personal:

– ‘Even more pathetic than this whole debate is Greg Shapiro himself. I’ve never heard him say anything funny. He would be wise to first address his utter lack of humor before lecturing his pedantic American finger at the rest of the world.’

– ‘Shapiro, it’s simple. Follow or traditions or get out.’

– ‘To be honest, you sound like a plum and you married a twat of a dutch woman. merry christmas numb nuts.’

But – like opening Pandora’s box – there’s always Hope. Some Dutchies do have a sense of humor.

– ‘We’ll eliminate Sinterklaas, when you give up fat Santa.’

– ‘How can Americans lecture us about Sinterklaas with their over-commercial Santa Claus? It’s like the Vatican lecturing us about child abuse.’

– ‘I admit it! I celebrate Sinterklaas with negerzoenen & joden koeken & blanke vla!’

And perhaps my favorite”

– ‘People – it’s a comedy show.’

The Zwarte Piet debate continues at Boom Chicago because ‘THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS SINTERKLAAS‘ until December 5.


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