A group of Dutch celebrities have launched a Facebook page calling for a makeover for Zwarte Piet, Sinterklaas’ sidekick usually played by white people in blackface make-up.
Chat show host Paul de Leeuw, comedian and presenter Marc-Marie Huijbregts and television crime show investigator Peter R. de Vries are among those who support the initiative, which was set up by theatre maker Anousha Nzume.
The supporters have signed up to the Facebook page as ‘parents, Dutch nationals and involved citizens,’ Nzume told broadcaster Nos. ‘It really is not nice as a child with dark skin to be called ‘little Piet’ all the time at school’.
The website was launched as Gouda city council said Sinterklaas would be accompanied by ‘cheese and stroopwafel’ Piets as well as traditional Piets at his official arrival this year.
Sinterklaas ‘officially arrives’ in the Netherlands three weeks ahead of the main festivities on December 5, an event which is shown live on television.
‘There are many supporters of the traditional Piet and many people who want change,’ the city’s mayor Milo Schoenmaker is quoted as saying. ‘Gouda is famous for its cheese and stroopwafels so it was not such a difficult quest to find an alternative.’
Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan said last week many of the Piets at the city’s Sinterklaas parade would have soot smudges on their faces instead of full make-up.
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