Wednesday, August 22, 2012
What it's like to be an African American in Amsterdam
In an interesting story on BET Black American Dana Saxon talks about the city she now loves and about the Dutch attitude towards race and Black Pete.
“Although Saxon says she will forever have love for Amsterdam, her idyllic dream life abroad has not come without some hiccups. Issues of race, she says, have consumed much of her time in the country, and although she is a self-proclaimed “race-obsessed” person, the Dutch don’t seem to make it any easier for Dana to let down her guard.”
“This December, Saxon was most shocked by the country’s handling of race when she encountered the beloved Black Pete (known as Zwarte Piet in Dutch), a fictional blackface character that is known as a helper of Sinterklaas, a skinnier version of Santa Claus, and who is celebrated with parades and public adulation ahead of the traditional Christmas holiday.”
A great interview. Although I must admit that as a Black Dutch person I don't see Black Pete as blackface in the way Americans see it. Simply because most white and Black Dutch people didn’t grow up with the racist US tradition of blackface, meaning the theatrical makeup used in minstrel shows in which performers create a stereotyped racist caricature of a black person. Black Pete is more linked to European/Dutch colonial racism. So yes, Black Pete is racist, but it's not USA style blackface.
Read the interview with Saxon on BET.
And also check out her Amsterdam City Guide on Euromight.