Zwarte Piet to remain black in most towns and villages: survey

Dancers dressed as Zwarte PietOnly six out of 211 local councils asked about their Sinterklaas parade plans this year say they plan to make changes to the appearance of Zwarte Piet, Nos television reports on Friday.

The Zwarte Piet character, Sinterklaas’ sidekick played by white people in blackface make-up, is under fire from anti-racism campaigners. They say Zwarte Piet is a racist stereotype and needs to ditch the make-up.

But while in some places the red lips and gold earrings have been dropped, the blackface make-up remains unchanged in most areas, the Nos survey found.


In Amsterdam, however, the traditional parade will include Piets with sooty smudges on their faces instead, reflecting Piet’s trips down chimneys. In Gouda, Sinterklaas will be accompanied by cheese Piets and in Haarlem there will be flower Piets.

Most places told Nos they are not making changes because there is no debate about the nature of Zwarte Piet in their areas.

Others said they were waiting for the outcome of a court case or the storyline in the Sinterklaasjournal, the annual television series for young children ahead of the December 5 festivities.

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