A UN human rights committee has said that the traditional Dutch Christmas character, ‘Black Pete’ was perceived by many of African descent as a ‘vestige of slavery’ and that the government should reform it.
Black Pete is a sidekick to the tradition of St Nicholas, and is played by white people with blacked up faces to crowds of children each December, and has caused controversy in recent years with claims that it is racist.
What utter twaddle!
The origins of the tradition are lost in time. The character of Black Pete is that of a helper, a good guy. there is nothing to suggest a link with slavery. Does this mean St Nicholas’s elves should be replaced by tall people as they may be seen as ‘heightist’ by short people?
Black faces were often used by rioters to cover their identity.They are also used to help them blend into the darkness to add drama, or to scare people.
Early blackface performances were used by abolitionists to educate people about black people. The play The Padlock was praised by Clarkson as being the most important play in promoting abolition, and was the first to feature a white man in blackface, but also as rather a fool, to stop people being afraid of Africans who were feared at the time, as were poor whites as they posed a risk to riot and other mischief.
If something is offensive, then deal with it. If not, leave people to their traditions.