Zwarte Piet loses his gold earrings

The 600 Zwarte Piets accompanying Sinterklaas in his procession through Amsterdam this year will not be wearing the traditional golden earrings, the Parool said on Wednesday.

The move comes after protests to the city council coordinated by artist and activist Quinsy Gario, who says the Zwarte Piet character is insulting and discriminatory.

His remarks led to a widespread discussion of the Sinterklaas tradition, and in particular of whether his servant Zwarte Piet was a suitable character for the 21st century.

Zwarte Piet – or Black Pete – is usually played by a white person in blackface, a curly wig and large hoop earrings.


The city council’s events licencing committee has decided this year’s procession will go ahead but without the earrings, Parool reports.

‘There is an emotional discussion,’ a committee spokesman, who asked to remain anonymous because of the intensity of the debate, told the paper. ‘Some are very happy with Zwarte Piet, others are less happy. It is not a simple discussion, but one with nuances.’ he said.

He was speaking to a gathering of hundreds of people who will be playing Piet. They included people from Suriname, the Antilles and Morocco and were mainly between 12 and 20 years old.

Sinterklaas makes his entrance into Amsterdam on November 17.




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