Support for blackface Piet shrinks: only 19% of young adults back stereotype

Photo: Brandon Hartley
Photo: Brandon Hartley

Support for the traditional blackface Zwarte Piet has halved within six years and only one third of Dutch adults now want the character to remain black, according to new research by I&O.

In particular, support for the blackface version of Sinterklaas’ helper Piet continues to lose popularity under youngsters, I&O said.

In 2021, one third of young adults supported the blackface Piet, but this year only 19% do so. Older people are also turning their back on blackface with between a third and two in five still supporting the stereotype, although the year on year change is much smaller.

‘Black’ Piet will ‘die out slowly,’ researcher Milan Driessen told the AD. ‘Now that so many youngsters want a different Piet, it is a question of time before support drops to zero. Zwarte Piet has already disappeared from shop windows, the Sinterklaasjournaal and in the media.’

Despite the downturn in support for ‘Black’ Piet, two in three people say that the small minority of campaigners against the racist stereotype are spoiling the celebration for the majority.

Support for the traditional Piet is strongest among people voting for the far right PVV and Forum voor Democratie, where 79% back the blackface version. One in three of those who vote for the fundamentalist Protestant SGP are also blackface supporters.

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