It has been reported by CNN that the controversial Christmas character of “Black Pete” will no longer be showing on NTR, the Dutch National Broadcast station. The character has sparked up yearly protests as many have seen it as racist.
Instead of removing the character completely however, actors playing the role will now just have soot on their cheeks instead of having their whole faces painted black. According to NTR, the soot on the cheeks is to signify “Zwarte Piet’s” travels down people’s chimneys with Santa Claus.
Prior to this decision the “Zwarte Piet” character had always fueled debates and protests all over the country. Many saw it as a racist move referencing the colonial era. This is probably because the role has always been played by white actors having their faces painted black, wearing a curly, black afro wig on their heads and having red lipstick on their lips.
In a press release by NTR, the broadcaster stated that the change was meant to keep tradition while showing societal changes. Now the actors will have soot on their faces based on how many chimneys they had been through.
Black Pete’s character was made popular in a nineteenth century children’s book. It is based on St. Nicholas’ character who inspired Santa Claus. The unveiling of Black Pete 2018 was broadcast live from Zaanstad, North Holland.