Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was time for this negative, offensive, racist and discriminatory caricature to vanish from annual traditional festivities in cities and towns throughout the Netherlands in November-December.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that “Dutch Black Pete” might be a popular Dutch tradition but it appeared to be a racist throwback to the slavery era.
Rajan Zed further said that it was absolutely baffling that racist stereotypes like “Dutch Black Pete” continued to exist in 21st century world, which should have been extinct many decades ago. Was not Netherlands famous for promoting equality? Zed asked.
Zed urged His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands to urgently intervene to put an end to the character of “Dutch Black Pete”. Country of Rembrandt and Van Gogh which has a long history of social tolerance and which hosts International Court of Justice should not be in the business of negative stereotyping.
Rajan Zed suggested His Holiness Pope Francis to also come out with a strong statement against “Dutch Black Pete” tradition as religions were supposed to speak against racism.
Zed urged Netherlands to also make efforts to end frequently complained workplace discrimination.
Black Pete (Zwarte Piet) is a traditional jolly sidekick to Dutch Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas (Dutch version of Santa Claus); dressed in a gaudy medieval costume with blackened face, thick red lips, earrings and curly Afro wig; often showed as servile, clumsy and dumb; in the annual parades and festivities in Amsterdam and other cities/towns of Netherlands. It first appeared in an 1850 book by Jan Schenkman.