Friday 05 March 2021

Utrecht primary schools dump Zwarte Piet

Dancers dressed as Zwarte PietUtrecht primary schools will hold Sinterklaas festivities without the controversial character of Zwarte Piet, the primary education association SPO announced on Wednesday.

The decision was taken by the SPO and school heads and is based on the basic assumption that everyone is equal, the SPO said.

‘This means that in the 33 SPO Utrecht schools there is no discrimination on any grounds whatsoever, and the character of Zwarte Piet has racist aspects,’ an SPO spokesman said.

Respect

The SPO said it does not want children to be upset or offended by the education offered at their schools and had looked for a respectful way of celebrating Sinterklaas.

‘This is why Zwarte Piet has been scrapped from the celebrations at our schools,’ the association said.

It is up to each individual school to decide what sort of festivities will be held during this year’s Sinterklaas celebration.

Blackface

Primary schools in The Hague said earlier this month that the classic blackface character of Zwarte Piet is no longer welcome.

All school heads in the city agreed to make changes which will see Piet lose his red lips, curly hair, earrings and black skin. Nor will he appear as a servant, the AD reported.

In Amsterdam and Utrecht some schools have ditched the traditional Piet character on a voluntary basis. And in August, the Bijenkorf department store group said it is replacing the traditional automated climbing Piets which decorate its main halls every Sinterklaas with golden versions.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said in a new report on the Netherlands that even a ‘deeply rooted cultural tradition does not justify discriminatory practices and stereotypes’.

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