Protest in Utrecht against a blackface children’s show

Zwarte Piet is racism.
Zwarte Piet is racism.

Doorbraak activist Jennifer van Leijen recently initiated a campaign to stop the Dutch government from subsidizing blackface (Zwarte Piet or Black Pete) on children’s television. Thousand people already signed. Van Leijen regularly writes updates. Here’s a new one. (You can also still read the first, second and third update.)

A protest will take place this Saturday in Utrecht, against a blackface childrens show called Zapp Sinterklaasfeest. The minstrel show features actors from the (government subsidised) NTR racist childrens television series: Het Sinterklaasjournaal, featuring actors in blackface.

The annual childrens blackface minstrel show is ironically taking place in Utrecht, a self proclaimed “city of human rights” in the Netherlands. Utrecht also boasts of being a city of childrens rights. The University of Utrecht even hosted the annual Association of Human Rights Insitutes Conference held at the University of Utrecht in September 2016.

Yet both the University of Utrecht, together with the mayor and municipal offices of Utrecht, endorse the annual blackface parade every year! Despite the Dutch children’s ombudswoman criticism of the blackface figure in September 2016, the authorities have ignored her standpoint.

In the Hague, on the same day that the childrens ombudswoman made her standpoint public, the organisers of a blackface parade confirmed that the parade would still feature shoe-polish-black facepainted caricatures. There’s a photo of the event that took place in the Hague, alongside the BBC article about the prospective politician Sylvana Simons.

Even the popular hamburger restaurant McDonald’s sponsored the blackface parade! In the Netherlands, this racist tradition is popular and sells.

It’s unpopular to be an anti-discrimination activist in the Netherlands. For example the vociferous anti-discrimination activist Sylvana Simon’s. Many people find it entertainment to see superimposed photo’s of Sylvana Simon’s face onto a photo of murdered victims of lynchings, images containing a veiled threat.

But with national and local government actively endorsing blackfacing, because they cannot be neutral, it’s no surprise that racists and multinational companies feel safe to put profits before people. It’s a dire situation. Please share this petition, especially with the international community.

Jennifer van Leijen