Monday, February 18, 2013

Dutch black children are selected to play Black Pete? Zwarte Piet - The Documentary

Dutch  (white) boys and girls playing Zwarte Piet
Kickstarter: African American curator Shantrelle P. Lewis is fundraising for a film about the blackface tradition of Zwarte Piet in The Netherlands. But what is Lewis trying proof? Will she present an interesting perspective, or just an old cliche? And should you support this?

Before I start, I - as a Dutch black person -  support the film, so check out www.kickstarter.com. But first the details and then my explanation.

Synopsis: Directed and Produced by Shantrelle P. Lewis and Produced by Chanelle Pearson, Black Pete, Zwarte Piet is a film exploring the blackface tradition of Zwarte Piet in the Netherlands.

Black Pete, Zwarte Piet: The Documentary is a film about the blackface tradition of Zwarte Piet, a Dutch folklore character associated with the celebration of Sinterklaas. The documentary seeks to explore both sides of the Sinterklaas/Zwarte Piet blackface tradition – and everything in between. Who wishes to change the tradition? Who wants to maintain it? And why?


Making a film about Black Pete in the Netherlands is a challenge. A challenge because such a film could easily become a cliche if it tries to explain an issue which has been discussed in news articles, blog post and on YouTube for many years now. But let's look at one question Shantrelle P. Lewis will try to explore.

Who wants to maintain it? And why? We know why many Dutch people want to maintain the black character Zwarte Piet, but what about the black people. We also know that many Dutch black people see Zwarte Piet as racist, so her real challenge would be to explain why some black People are not against it. And also why some Black people in the Dutch Caribbean actually black up their face to play Zwarte Piet.  

But why do black people put up with Zwarte Piet? Is it ignorance, internal racism, or are they just black zombies who don't know what is happening around them? The answer is perhaps very simpel. Black children celebrate Sinterklaas just as white children. In the age of 2 till 7 the celebration of Sinterklaas is a magical period of Zwarte Pieten, who walk on roof tops and climb into chimies to deliver presents. So what should black parents do, tell their 4 year olds that Sinterklaas is a just another white supremesist and Black Pete is racist because he looks like racist blackfaced white American Al Johnson and functions as a slave?

But Lewis simplifies the problem. On her the film website she writes:  "Oftentimes, during school celebrations, Black children are selected to play Zwarte Piet."  To support her claim she added a  picture of a black Dutch girl dressed as Zwarte Piet.

Her message is clear: black children in The Netherlands are victims of the white racist school system, they are blacked up to serve as Zwarte Piet.
Complete nonsense.  Every black person who was born and raised in The Netherlands has primary school pictures with a Zwarte Piet in it, but no one has ever been forced to dress up as Zwarte Piet. True, black people in The Netherlands are not as active when it comes to fighting racism, but if this is true, the Sinterklaas celebration would change overnight.

What bothers Lewis is that Dutch black people don't fight racism the way black Americans do. Having studied the black Caribbean presence in the Netherlands she came - perhaps in anger - to a final conclusion.  At the end of her journey Lewis looked back on Facebook and called black people in The Netherlands "Black zombies"  for putting up with these forms of racism.

Unfortunately her view created a deep conflict with the well known Dutch black artist and Black Pete activist Quincy Gario. He is the person with whom she teamed up to explore the black Caribbean presence and he was the one who showed her the face of racism in The Netherlands. He was deeply offended by her comment and felt if she had stabbed him (and other black activist) in the back. But seemingly Lewis meant something different, but it's clear this issue has not been resolved, since Gario does not appear in the trailer of the documentary. And let's be honest, a documentary about protest against Zwarte Piet without Gario is like the Niggazs in Paris video without Jay-Z. Perhaps this was clash of two big egos, but the end result is not very productive.

Do I blame Lewis for her lack of nuance? No, if I were a black American and had seen a film like “Alleen maar nette mensen” and had checked out in a supermarket with a cashier dressed up as Black Pete, it would be hard for me to understand why Dutch black people don’t rally against this as black American people probably would have done in the US. Although many activists have protested against it, Gario is not the only one.

But many Dutch black people who don't hold up picket signs - including me - also see Zwarte Piet as racist and want to see it disappear. But on the other hand we don't want to burden small children with the complexity of racism, we just want them to have fun and experience the same magic as we did when we were young.  The tough question is, how can you fight this without spoiling the party? 

That's why I hope Lewis will show this complexity instead of bringing on the American blackface history of the black minstrels and demand -  as a black American - that The Netherlands should remove the Zwarte Piet character immediately. Even Gario knows that's not going to happened.

As for the blackface issue, whether or not the Dutch got the blackface example from the old US is completely irrelevant.  In the history of black activism against Zwarte Piet this issue played a very minor role. Black Dutch people are against Zwarte Piet because they find Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet a racist master-slave representation, American blackface is a non-issue. I even know a story of an old Dutch black man who even liked the British Black minstrel shows‎ on Dutch Television, the good old man had no idea what it really represented. Stupid? No, because back then and even today most black and white Dutch people have no knowledge of this racist American tradition.

Whatever the outcome I support such a documentary.  Although Shantrelle P. Lewis sometimes shows some elements of black narrow mindedness, she still is an experienced curator, who not only connected with black people in the Netherlands but also traveled to the UK, France and Sweden to get in touch with black communities. So in spite of all my reservations I am still very curious to see the end result.

So should you support this? A full yes. Dissenting views, conflict and an occasional lie are always the basis for good documentaries and a lot of debate. 

Check the trailer below



Update March 2014

I wrote this post (see above) more than a year ago, but much has changed since then. Although this topic is about the documentary,  I felt the need to write a small update since I am not writing new posts anymore and because this post triggered some controversy of its own.

The “Zwarte Piet”, or Black Pete debate exploded in November and many people - including me - came to the conclusion that you can't fight this "without spoiling the party". So I was wrong.

I somehow thought you could change it with what they call in The Netherlands "poldering", which is solving problems not by power, but through discussions and negotiations. But when you talk about  “Zwarte Piet” in The Netherlands, the “poldering” does not apply anymore. You hit a brick wall.

That wall turned into ugly racism that year. Black people who never gave the protests much attention were suddenly confronted with a level of response they had never expected.

An important  issues which surfaced, was the question of who decided whether something is racist or not. It became clear the Dutch majority felt they had the right to make that decision.  The opinion of others is considered irrelevant,  or simply just ignored.  The straight answer is often the same:  "Black Pete is not racist because we say so.  It’s my country, it’s my culture and if you don't like it,  go back to where you came from. "

Because of these responses, many people  were triggered to join the protests, or at least felt they had to speak out.  This was not only about Black Pete, but about how Dutch society dealt with race relations in general.

In the heated debates that followed this monopoly on who decides what is racist and what is not, was challenged and slightly changed as a result. People of different ethic backgrounds suddenly talked and wrote openly about the racial jokes they felt they had to put of with all these years.  As if it had something to with being integrated. But it were Black protesters who challenged it, let's be clear about that.

But in spite of the protests, the responses and the debates, it doesn’t mean these protest are supported by everyone in the different black communities in the Netherlands.  There are many Black people who support Black Pete and don’t  feel it is racist at all. For them Black Pete is just a character,  no more no less.  Although I disagree, I respect their view.

Some links:
UN investigates if Dutch tradition of Zwarte Piet is racist
Race + The Netherlands: Resistance, Lost in Translation
And a story with great photos of one of the protests. 
Nieuwe energie, strijd tegen racisme gaat door (New energy, fight against racism continues


I spotted this video when I wrote this comment. This video was made on the day of the Sinterklaas arrival in Amsterdam. This was the silent protest.

49 comments:

  1. A production like this is long overdue, but I agree that the American blackface tradition is not the best context for a story on Zwarte Piet.
    Race relations in the Netherlands are different from those in the US. Most white folks in the Netherlands had not even personally met a black person 40 or 50 years ago. Blacks in the Netherlands never had to sit at the back of the bus, or fear public lynching by KKK-like organizations. They never had to march down to the capital city to demand voting rights. The history is different, thus so is the present.
    I hope the makers of the film get this. Placing the story in a US Blackface context will substantially weaken its argument. It would also deprive black Dutch of a potentially helpful tool in the battle against racism. After all, you cannot knock on doors saying: "Zwarte Piet is wrong, because the US says it is."

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    1. Thanks for the comment Anouska. You are absolutely right. As mentioned, I understand the history of Blackface and I also feel blackening up should end, playing the stereotypical negro is so 1930s. But I also hope the makers will also incorporate the Dutch (black) arguments in their documentary.

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  2. One of the purposes of this documentary is to spark dialogue. So to whomever wrote this piece, thank you for expressing your concerns. I look forward to having the opportunity to respond publicly. See my details below.

    Dank U Wel!
    Shantrelle
    blackpetethedocumentary@gmail.com

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    1. Shantrelle, thanks for responding. I will mail you.

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    2. Wonderful! I look forward to it. :)

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  3. I see that American exceptionalism is still infecting everything it touches. Will we ever see the day when United States citizens will be able to look at the world without projecting their particular issues on everybody else?

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    1. I wonder what you mean by "their particular issues" Anonymous. If you are referring to anti-Black racism, then I must remind you that White supremacy and anti-Black racism are things that affect African descended peoples all over the world (from skin bleaching to stereotypes that infantilize us).

      Also, let's not forget that we happily (if not uncritically) consume tons of cultural productions that are created in the US, look toward Black US intellectuals for leadership role models. So, your question deserves a counterpoint: Will we ever see the day when non-US citizens will stop consuming cultural productions that were created and intended for US citizens, and the US situation?

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  4. I don't think we should care about "spoiling the party"!

    Many of my Black friends, now adults admit to me all the time how shameful was the celebration of zwarte piet growing up. Effectively, there were constantly subject of the mockery of their white classmates who compared them to zwarte piet!

    I understand that life as a Black person in Europe is very different from the one of an African American but we must have enough self love, self pride and courage to say No, just as our ancestors did.

    This is the only way our situation will improve in this part of the world.

    So stop hiding behind children and demand respect so that our descendants can, in a near future be treated like equal citizens.

    Our Diversity at Work

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    1. Diversity at Work, the battle fields of this celebration are not the racist US lunch counters, but the Dutch kinder gardens and the primary schools. The black activist I mentioned in the story, Gario, was dragged away by the Police in front of hundreds of kids in the age of 3 till 7. That’s why protest have failed for more than 40 years. So yes, unfortunately the party most go on, while we change Zwarte Piet into Piet.

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    2. Our Diversity at Work, I'm an African American and I agree with what everything that you have written.

      And, unless I misunderstand Afro-Europe's reply to you, I think he is also agreeing with what you wrote.

      The specific context is different, but the dynamics of racism & the very harmful results of racism for People of Color and for White people, are the same.

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    3. Azizi, of course I agree with Diversity at work, we both agree on what we are trying to accomplish.

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    4. I live in Europe for just a few years now and one of the things I know is that Black people here are wayyyyyyy stronger than the average Black who lives on the American continent.

      Racism and discrimination here is just so extreme that I honestly don't know if my soul could have survived it.

      That being said, what I found difficult is how zwarte piet and other form of racism created to justify inequality are viewed as a "Black problem". Heroic activist Gario should have been supported by a group of protesters.

      I mean, if I see a white woman being raped in the street, it is not just white people problem but mine too and because of that I must get involved to protect her.


      I am sure that there is lots of people from other part of the world and White Dutch people who are also against this celebration of racism and would be more than happy to join us in the fight against hate and ignorance.

      I have to say that I am proud when I see initiative like this Facebook page:

      http://www.facebook.com/pages/Zwarte-Piet-Is-Racisme/258265237627685?fref=ts

      It makes me feel like there is hope if we come together.

      Our Diversity at Work.

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  5. I personally think this overly discussion about Zwarte Piet pretty stupid to be honestly, it's a character from the folklore that existed in the Netherlands for a long time, way back the Netherlands became a country open to immigrants from all over the world, and unlike what it may look, it was never saw in a negative way by the dutch, and I personally never saw the way he was portrayed as a representative of black people nor do I think dutch people have this view on him. He's simply a character that come to bring happiness and joy to people. Yes he's a black character but why exactly would only that make him a representation of a whole race?

    Much different than the black face used back then in America, which were clearly a stereotypical view of blacks.

    I'm brazilian and here we have a folklore character called Saci-Perere, which could have been easily seen as a racist personification of black people by one of the many foreign groups that are not in touch with the history and culture of Brazil, given his own attributes of personality (google about him to know more), however here he was never ever, seen as a personification of black brazilians, simply because he's a folklore character, hence not real, and simply this, a character, not a personification of something bigger.

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    1. Gabriel,
      While I disagree with your comments, I would like to thank you for mentioning the Brazilian folklore character Saci-pererê I had never heard of him, and I did indeed google him & read this article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saci_(Brazilian_folklore).

      Having read that, it seems to me that Saci-pererê has negative characteristics as he is depicted as "An incorrigible prankster, the Saci will not cause major harm, but there is no little harm that he won't do", and his magic red cap "is often depicted as having a bad smell, most people who claimed to have stolen this cap often say they can never wash the smell away."

      In and of itself, the fact that Saci-pererê is described as being "black as coal" shouldn't be considered a negative attribute. But, while Brazil's definition of who is Black & who is White are different than those racial definitions in the United States, there appears to be no doubt that those who are classified as Black are the poorest, the least powerful, and the least favorably regarded population in Brazil.

      This scholarly article about this subject may be of interest to you, Gabriel, and to other persons:
      http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s7846.html
      Race in Another America:
      The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil
      Edward E. Telles

      Furthermore, this 2012 post in this Afro-Europe blog http://afroeurope.blogspot.com/2012/06/brazilian-tv-drama-black-boy-in-love.html "Brazilian TV drama: Black boy in love with white girl who despises him" demonstrates the very harmful psychological effects that racism against dark skinned people in Brazil can have upon those dark skinned people as well as those people who are considered White in Brazil.

      I find it very difficult to believe that the folklore character Saci-pererê has had no influence on the way Brazilians consider dark skinned people.

      Daniela is a frequent blogger on this forum who is from Brazil. I hope that Daniela adds some input to this subject.

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    2. My impression of your opinion on Saci-Perere reflect pretty much what I said about people from a foreign culture trying to judge a culture from another country without being properly in touch with it. You may find it difficult to believe that his black skin was not created as a stereotypical view of blacks, however his acceptance toward the general brazilian population of any race is regarded as one of the biggest symbols of our culture, embrancing all brazilians, together with many other characters of our folklore like the Curupira and the Mula-sem-cabeça.

      The way he's seen by the population is in any way a racial personification of such character, just like the entire brazilian folklore which is very much ingrained in a mix between european, african and amerindian traditions, real afro-brazilians, and especially those with a poor background suffer with racism and discrimination in this country, that it's a fact, there is no need for a soap-opera that show black characters on it to show this, which is why I hardly disagree that a character from a fictional show or tradition like the Saci is doomed to represent blacks, because fiction is not supposed to represent the reality, even more in the context of the Saci, which is more seen as a supernatural character than a black personification of it in any sort. This could be proved by just simply asking to brazilians of any race what they think of the legend of Saci, most of them would not even consider him as a human, but a rather as a magical character.

      Trying to change this without realizing the exact context and importance of that piece of culture have to the population is wrong in my opinion, just like the Zwarte Piet itself. And I believe focusing on folklore and traditions as a source of discrimination and problems (of course, when it's not a blatant demonstration of a bad thing, like the touradas in Spain), in my opinion is a way of turning way the attention to real problems that affect a minority community in the society.

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    3. My impression of your opinion on Saci-Perere reflect pretty much what I said about people from a foreign culture trying to judge a culture from another country without being properly in touch with it. You may find it difficult to believe that his black skin was not created as a stereotypical view of blacks, however his acceptance toward the general brazilian population of any race is regarded as one of the biggest symbols of our culture, embrancing all brazilians, together with many other characters of our folklore like the Curupira and the Mula-sem-cabeça.

      The way he's seen by the population is in any way a racial personification of such character, just like the entire brazilian folklore which is very much ingrained in a mix between european, african and amerindian traditions and myths, real afro-brazilians, and especially those with a poor background suffer with racism and discrimination in this country, that it's a fact, there is no need for a soap-opera that show black characters on it to show this, the psychological effects of this is doomed by society itself, especially in Brazil where the socio-economical situation end up being a bigger source of discrimination than race itself, which is why I hardly disagree that a character from a fictional show or tradition like the Saci is doomed to represent blacks, because fiction is not supposed to represent the reality, even more in the context of the Saci, which is more seen as a supernatural character than a black personification of it in any sort. This could be proved by just simply asking to brazilians of any race what they think of the legend of Saci, most of them would not even consider him as a human, but a rather as a magical character.

      Trying to change this without realizing the exact context and importance of that piece of culture have to the population is wrong in my opinion, just like the Zwarte Piet itself. And I believe focusing on folklore and traditions as a source of discrimination and problems (of course, when it's not a blatant demonstration of a bad thing, like the bull fightings in Spain), in my opinion is a way of turning way the attention to real problems that affect any minority community in the society.

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    4. I'm open to learning more about the attitudes about Zwarte Piet AND Saci-Perere.

      I therefore hope that the film that is the subject of this post receives its funding and that more research is done on the subjects of traditions that may not have started out as racist, but over time may have had racist connotations/interpretations grafted on to them by people in those nations-and not just by people elsewhere.

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    5. As Gabriel said, Saci-Perere is part of our brazilian folklore and no one think it's a racist character. Being black is just one of his features, even tough, people don't relate him as a representant of african descendant people, but as a magic creature. I think you could only understand it if you were brazilian. You can't interpretate another country's culture by a foreign sight.

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  6. Gabriel, of course Zwarte Piet isn't racist. He's a chimney sweeper, not?
    And doesn't the song (translated from Dutch) go : "Even though he's black as coal, he does mean well"?
    Yeah, can't see what the fuss is all about.

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    1. Anouska, I think you meant your comment-including the sentence "Yeah, can't see what the fuss is all about" to be taken as sarcasm. Is that so?

      If I understand you correctly, you can see-and I agree with you-that saying that "Even though [Zwarte Piet is] black as coal, he does mean well" - implies that people (and character) who are black as coal don't usually mean well.

      It's interesting that the Brazilian character Saci-pererê who I just learned about thanks to Gabriel is also described as being black as coal, and that character clearly doesn't mean well.

      It seems to me that the belief that the color "black" is something bad or evil originates from or at least was powerfully reinforced by the widespread & ancient belief in the devil. Although the devil is mostly depicted in the USA as being the color "red", he is also depicted as being the color "black" in other cultures.

      Click http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=123578 for a discussion thread on "Folklore-the devil the color black" that I began in 2009 on a folk music forum.

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  7. Hi Azizi,

    Zwarte Piet used to be a person whom Dutch children were instructed to fear. Adults threatened kids that if the kids were naughty, they could expect a whipping by Zwarte Piet and possible deportation to Spain (in Piet's big sack). When capital punishment of kids fell out of fashion, somewhere in the 1980s, the threats stopped and Piet's impersonators also ditched their whipping rod ( a device made of bounded hard twigs). Piet's sack remained exclusively for the carrying of presents; it was no longer associated with forced emigration. I remember being scared to death of Zwarte Piet, as a kid. Don't know how he does with youngsters nowadays; i no longer live in holland.

    Does Zwarte Piet's punitive function stem from a Christian association between black and 'all things evil'?
    Perhaps. I'm not sure if this has ever been the subject of academic research.

    The difficult thing with Zwarte Piet is that his original creator, a 19th century childrens book writer named Jan Schenkman, kept his descriptions of Zwarte Piet to a minimum. Mich of Piet's current features - including his Moorish dress, childlike manners and Surinamese or Antillian accent - were added later on, by the public.

    For example, there is a story about Zwarte Piet being the devil himself. No idea who came up with this, but the story has it that when Good triumphed over Evil, the Devil was shackled and made slave to Sinterklaas. (sort of reminds one of the story of Ham in the Bible...)

    And then there's the story of Zwarte Piet not really being an African, but someone who got his black skin from coal dust - having to climb down chimneys to deliver presents. Of course, this story does not explain the afro hair, big red lips and caribbean accent....

    I sometimes wonder what Jan Schenkman would say if he knew how his Piet had evolved through time.

    Afro Europe refers to Schenkman in the Dec 5th2012 post on the possibility of a White Piet - see the link in the list of related posts above.

    The post includes a picture of the original Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet story. Somehow, i do not find this drawing at all offensive. It's what happened to Zwarte Piet afterwards, in the public, that bothers me.

    And yes, i was being sarcastic. Gabriel is doing the same thing he criticizes the US filmmakers of. That is, judging a foreign tradition by his own cultural customs.

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  8. Anoushka, you're absoluty right about "judging a foreign tradition by his own cultural customs." I asked an African-American who has been living here for more than 40 years and he said exactly the same thing.

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  9. Diversity at Work, we are always together, but we always have to able to have an open discussion. I used to write columns about the black community in a local newspaper in Amsterdam Southeast, and I even opposed to a slavery monument in Amsterdam. Not because I was against it, but because you must have discussion about everything. Of course, no one took me seriously, but at least we had a discussion about it. Equality means we have to treat each other equally, but if we are afraid to criticise each other because we feel we need to support each other no matter what, then we don't treat each other as equals. I want Lewis to make this documentary, but I won’t help her if I treat her as a black messiah.

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  10. Dear Afro-Europe blogger,

    I for one am happy with whoever contributes to this debate and drives the momentum. And I do feel we have a responsibility to refine and add value to the debate as you have done by correcting Lewis on her quote regarding black children being forced to play Zwarte Piet.

    What I don't fully understand is why you seem to have some concerns with Lewis being seen as the "black messiah" that is beyond criticism. If anything the social media aspect of this effort allows everybody to join the debate and believe me they have....I have heard from both supporters and critics that can't wait for this to be launched. So I am glad you chipped in with your contribution.

    What I find slightly disappointing about your blog is the following:

    "At the end of her journey Lewis looked back on Facebook and called black people in The Netherlands "Black zombies" for putting up with these forms of racism."

    Do you have any hard evidence to substantiate this statement? If you don't, I suggest to have it removed. Otherwise it degrades your blog to nothing more than a whole lotta gossip and at least one straight-out lie.

    Peace

    Jennifer

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    1. Dear Jennifer, the evidence is on her Facebook page. It was a discussion between Lewis and Gario which they had over the words “Black zombie”. Gario responded literally (and rude) that Lewis had "spitted" in his the face.

      If what I wrote was not true, Lewis most certainly would have responded that this was a straight-out lie. But she did not. You are friends with Lewis, so advice you to contact her directly.

      Why did I call her a black messiah? It's because of this comment on her Facebook page. Lewis posted this blog on Facebook and someone responded with:

      "It is beyond befuddling that blacks accept and participate in that mess, and even allow their children to be so actively indoctrinated into that overtly racist practice. So my point - this author is clearly uncomfortable with his own complicity being exposed! You know, if you throw a rock into a pack of dogs the one who barks is the one you hit! And bravo to you! Our family in the diaspora needs to be shaken on this one, because they'd HAVE to be zombies to just sit back and play along. That sh*t's bananas over there! ....and the author gives this weak excuse about letting the kids have their christmas??? Oh boy oh boy, that's just not good enough! But the idea is that once they've gotten over that angst from being left exposed to the world - their dirty little secret being revealed - this just may be the catalyst necessary to make that much needed COLLECTIVE action to put an end to the madness. I look forward to viewing your work Shantrelle!"

      Lewis responded with: "your words, energy and sentiment are appreciate immensely! Thank you for your support, honestly. It takes a village …"

      Instead of admitting that it is not the case, she leaves this poor lady with the notion that she is "exposing" our little dirty secret, that we are letting our black children play Zwarte Piet. And correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t Lewis also implying she will enlighten us?

      But who does she wants to enlighten? The many artists, activist and other people she has met during her stay in the Netherlands? Needless to say, some Dutch black people who have financially contributed to her documentary are very disappointed to hear what she has said about them and their children.

      Jennifer, in my four years of blogging I’ve learned that there a many black perspectives. Luckily I have an African American family member who gives me his perspective on what it’s like to be black in the US. He never gives up on me, but corrects every time I come up with yet another “survey” of yet another “crises”. Although I know a lot about Black America, I still don’t know what the black American experience really is. But I am learning, also from the many comments on this blog.

      Maybe you’ve heard about the “offensive” film “Alleen maar nette mensen” . Many people, including Lewis and I, wrote very negative reviews about the film, but still many black people in the Netherlands, in Suriname and in the Dutch Caribbean loved the film. Now, I can say that one million people are wrong and that I am right, or I can reflect on my own opinion and try to value their opinion. And that’s all what Lewis needs to do: step back and reflect.

      Although I know Lewis is committed to the black community, she unfortunately hasn’t given herself time enough time to really reflect on her experiences in The Netherlands. The result is what we are seeing now, angry, disappointed and very misinformed people.

      Jennifer, I am still a fan of Lewis’s her work, in spite of everything. She is definitely an asset to her black community. My wish is that she will the same to other black communities.

      And Jennifer, the fact that you are attacking the integrity of this blog because you want to defend your friend Lewis, says a lot about how her statements are affecting everything, including this blog.

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  11. Dear Afro-Europe,

    Thank you for your response.
    I am a bit surprised that you continue with spreading and defending this untruth.

    Please look up the particular post, read through it word by word and post for us here the exact quotes where Lewis called Dutch people from African descent " black zombies". Really, please do, because maybe there are two versions of facebook going around that I am not aware of.

    You are not a journalist, hence why should I hold you accountable for sloppy fact checking? But if you want us to take you seriously as a blogger the least you can do when placing words in somebody's mouth is to check your facts. And when challenged, go back, check and correct or dispute and show proof. Don't stick to hearsay or a perhaps ailing memory. Fact check!

    Secondly to categorize my comments as somebody who comes to the defense of Lewis because she is my "friend". Why are you drawing this conclusion and is it even relevant? The real issue here is whether or not you can back up your statements, irrespective of who points this out.

    Also, whether Lewis feels the need to respond is irrelevant as it doesn't change anything about whether you misquoted her or not.

    So my suggestion is not to get distracted. Unless you can share with us the particular post and a link that allows us all to verify, I would advise you to choose your words more carefully. There were enough controversial and juicy statements that Lewis made that could be quoted literally. You could have used words such as implied, obviously, probably, maybe, perhaps, when referring to her zombie statement, but you choose not to... and you slipped.

    On the messiah thing, I will have to look up the entire thread as I do like to base my statements, particularly involving social media platforms, on the full context. When you paste a response to a response to a response....it always leads to fl*ggery if you start drawing fast conclusions. Just to clarify if there are 20 responses to the post and she answers all with a "thank you it takes a village" we kinda know where we stand right?
    Having said that, maybe to the globally unexposed American she is a missionary, I doubt whether anybody in the Netherlands sees Lewis like that and following her, I cannot recall that she has ever portrait herself as such. But I am open to be corrected.

    Let one thing be clear. Whether you support Lewis her work, want her to reflect or think the whole thing will be a disaster is really not an issue. You have a right to think and express any of the above. We all know that there are different perspectives and I agree, this will just be one..... of hopefully many more to come.

    But let's stop the murky mudwrestling of misquotes and hearsay.
    It doesn't add any value to your message and indeed -I sincerely hope unnecessarily- raises questions on the integrity of your blog.


    Peace and looking forward to the facts.

    Jennifer

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    Replies
    1. Dear Jennifer, you are blowing this completely out of proportion. Lewis responded to this post and asked me to contact her, which I did. She was planning to respond to this posting, but decided not to do so.

      My posting had nothing to with gossip or lies. If that is your conclusion I am very sorry you feel this way. If you want "proof" you know where to find it. If you want to keep saying that is not true because I don’t show you any proof, then I suggest you take it to court. This a blog Jennifer, please.

      If Lewis accused me of lying that would be another situation. But to you, I don’t have to prove anything. And as I stated before, Lewis wanted to respond on the blog, but decided otherwise. So unless you are representing Lewis you are no position to demand proof and ask me to remove postings. Believe me, you are not helping her.

      But there is another truth you are completely unaware of. Do you know how many people have read this posting? A lot. And that was exactly my goal. The best way to get people's attention is to start of with a controversy. And there luckily was some controversy. But that's why I also stated my support for Lewis, twice, because I didn't want to damage the project. Haven't you read the post?!!

      The only problem now, is that some people now actually think we are dressing up our children to play Zwarte Piet. That if find disturbing.

      We are one family, always keep that in mind. The minute we forget that, we are lost. We should fight Zwarte Piet in the Netherlands, not against each other. Although I don’t fully agree how Lewis is tackling this issue, it is a contribution in the process which has been going on for more than 30 years. And yes, a black messiah is not going to change that.

      But Lewis is right calling some black people black Zombies. Haven’t you read my postings and comments!? It was embarrassing to see so many black people supporting the film “Alleen maar nette mensen”. But that’s a perspective that will not change overnight. For black Americans Zwarte Piet is an issue they can relate too. But there is more groundwork to be done before you can get black people to actively protest en masse to this character.

      But apart from this whole discussion Jennifer, you haven't got a clue what you are talking about. You hurting Lewis more than you think. So do yourself a favour, mind your own business (literally) and let Lewis take care of hers. And believe me, she is perfectly capable of doing so. And if you want to continue this discussion, mail me. You know where to find me.

      Delete
  12. Dear Afro-Europe,


    If really that many people are reading this blog, don't you think you have a responsibility to take appropriate measures and be accurate when attributing statements to people?

    You rightfully classified Lewis her claims on enforced ZP roleplay for black Dutch children as utter nonsense and disturbing, but when the tables are turned and you are requested to explain why you are misquoting somebody than...

    People should mind their own business and you don't owe nobody but whoever you might have misquoted an explanation, and whoever questions you must be misguided by false emotions (because surely, I must be friends with Lewis and keen to blow things out of proportion, why else would I want to hold on to the bare minimum of ethics in references, right?)

    Wow...interesting.

    For your information, I saw only one zombie statement by Lewis once, followed by a heated and intense discussion. Nowhere can I recall that there was any statement about Dutch black people being called "black zombies".
    So really I am intrigued to find out what you are basing your zombie claims on.

    Anyways, I think you were absolutely right to write your blog in reference to the title, but given how you choose to mend and continue to defend one paragraph of it I will just take what you write in the future with a pinch of salt.. infotaining, but lightweight, just like Mamjo ;-)

    Peace and do keep up the good parts of your work

    Jennifer

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    1. Jennifer, thanks for comment, and I apologize for some hard words I used. I respect what you do and this not the way to communicate.

      Delete
    2. Dear Afro-Europe,

      From my end no harm was intended and I did not take any of your statements personally- really I am not into drama- All I want is for all of us to excel at what we are doing as we are fighting for the same cause.

      If we do not hold each other to the highest standards, we are bound to stumble when we engage with those that oppose our views.

      And if I can stick my nose into your business two more times :-)

      Are you considering to rectify your blog (I know it is just a blog but others who might not read the responses will continue to think that the quotes are correct). Other than editorial it also has another background you might not be aware of. For those of us deeply familiar with African religious philosophy calling people "black zombies" is very insulting on many levels. However saying that you are seeing zombies everywhere, as Lewis did, has a completely different connotation. That is the very reason why the statement caught my eye immediately.

      Secondly, more an appeal rather than a question. Please quit the I-have-been-insulted-and-will-stop-blogging. Really, I have family members who have been mauled by police dogs for standing up for their civil rights and they would do it again if they had to.
      If one of us makes a mistake or tramples all over our toes, call them out, give them room to correct it and ....move on.
      This movement is bigger than any of us and Afro-Euro blog has an important role to play.

      Lastly, it is not Lewis her responsibility to verify the quality of your quotes and she is certainly not responsible for the way either you or I reacted in this discussion. We have to take responsibility for our own actions and the words we choose. I therefore from my end also apologise for anything perceived as harmful.

      I for one will continue to read your blog with interest and will continue to respond.
      Hopefully you realize next time that it is not meant as attack, but to sharpen the sword..sorry pen..uhum keyboard..

      Finally..I do agree with you that there is no systematic pressure on black children to roleplay ZP, but there are certainly black parents who dress their children up like ZP. Enough to be noticed and raise concerns.

      Let's work together to put an end to this madness.

      Once again peace and keep up the good parts of the work.

      Jennifer

      Delete
    3. Jennifer, the facebook link is posted, so everyone can read the information and make their own judgment.

      As for the black parents, you are wrong again. Black parents don’t dress up their children as Zwarte Piet. Ask the girl in the photo Lewis has used on her site, then you will find what really happens. There are also stories, which I have promised not to write about, which have a far more different background. As I mentioned earlier, thinks are not always as they seem.

      One thing I have learned during selecting stories and blogging is to give much weight to the ‘local’ view. I have made some wrong judgements by not following this principle. That’s my lessons-learned. But again, that is my opinion.

      The reason why I stop blogging may not be enough for you, but it’s good enough for me. You are judging me by your own experiences and values, but don’t try to explain why your experiences and values carry more weight than mine. Just respect it. This is just a blog, not a civil rights demonstration.

      As for” those of us deeply familiar with African religious philosophy calling people "black zombies" is very insulting on many levels.” Maybe so, but you and I and are born and raised in Western countries, not in the Caribbean or Africa. And again don’t try to explain African religious philosophy to me. You apparently assume that I would not have used the word black Zombie if I was familiar with the African context. I understand why you bring it up, but it's a statement which is perhaps very valued within an specific African-American context, but not in a Surinamese, Antillean or an ‘Afro-Dutch’ context. These are the complexities you and Lewis should try to learn.

      I can go on responding to your comments, but you are still seeing everything from a fixed black American perspective. And it truly amazes me how strong and persistent that perspective is.

      I wish you well.


      Delete
    4. Hi Afro-Europe,

      Thank you for your reply and your well wishes.

      I just want to correct you on yet another aspect as your assumptions are plenty but unfortunately inaccurate. I am not African-American and I wasn't born and raised in a Western Country either.

      I was born and raised on Friman Gron and as my grandmother would say... "Mi kumbatee beri na stonfutu oso, mi krabasi e psa na mi anu, mi futu waka na nengre doro, so srefi mi dofo no e knapu na sey pasi"

      So please do not dismiss my perspective, because you perceive it to be African-American. It is not, it is Afro-Surinamese. I know and practice my cultural heritage in every aspect, and I know on a cultural, social and religious level the fundamental difference between Lewis her exact words and what you inaccurately reflected.

      Our community is very diverse and rich and there is a myriad of viewpoints. That is both the challenge, but also beauty of our collective experience, as we can learn from one another.

      As long as people honor truth I have no problem with different perspectives and value them, to each their own journey.

      But unfortunately your assumptions of who or what I am are inaccurate and perhaps also distracted you from looking at my arguments objectively.

      Cheers

      Jennifer



      Delete
    5. Jennifer, I know you have a Surinamese background, but on your website you wrote you were only born in Suriname and moved to the US at a very young age. So that's why assumed you had a more black American background.

      Delete
    6. Hi Afro-Europe,

      Sorry, Wrong Jennifer! I do not have a website and did not move to the US at a young age.

      I am Surinamese born and raised and know my African culture well enough to know what culturally aware people might mean when they say that they "see zombies when they go outside"...

      ...but I have also lived long enough in the Netherlands in my adult life to know that there are black people who dress their children up like ZP. (Don't even go there, cause I really cannot explain it)

      It is a pity that you assumed me to be somebody else, I am unsure why you would think that. Unfortunately I think it distracted you from viewing my arguments objectively.

      Cheers

      Jennifer

      Delete
    7. Jennifer, sorry about that! Yes, wrong Jennifer.

      I was born and raised in The Netherlands, so I know what you mean. I even saw African children in Amsterdam South East dressed up a black Pete. In Suriname and on Curacao even grown-ups play ZP. Nothing new. But the large majority of black parents in The Netherlands don't allow that, so it's false to use a photo of a small child to imply that this is what black parent do with their children in the Netherlands. And my problem is also that she claims that primary schools are selecting black children to play Black Pete. These statement are false and misleading.

      Again, I am sorry I mixed you up with another person. I am glad your not person I thought you were.

      Delete
  13. "Silence is also a form of speech." ~ Fulani Proverb

    Erik, I attempted to ignore this "controversy" to no avail. My silence does not mean that you are speaking the truth or that I didn't have a problem with what you said about me. To be clear, I WAS OFFENDED. And honestly, what you had to say is NOT true. I decided that this would be a distraction to the larger goal of what myself and so many others are attempting to accomplish via this film, which is why I opted not to respond. But beyond that, I'm a working professional and I have lots of other responsibilities on my plate that have absolutely nothing to do with this film.

    HERE is the link that you have referenced (incorrectly) from my Shantology page:
    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=412781235461893&id=110232759050077

    PLEASE read the entire conversation.

    I would suggest that the next time you would like to make claims on what people are intending to do or thinking, you should perhaps ask them directly. I don't even know you. Nor have I ever had a conversation with you, in life! There was nothing preventing you from reaching out to me to ask me what my intentions were. Instead, you wrote something based on he say/she say. This is not journalism. This is an opinion piece based on personal biases (clearly) and personal attacks e.g. you calling me narrow-minded and a Black messiah.

    Furthermore, I was absolutely offended by your critique of me and Black Americans. Then shocked that you had the nerve to say "And let's be honest, a documentary about protest against Zwarte Piet without Gario is like the Niggazs in Paris video without Jay-Z. " That's ridiculous. Why even make an American reference? And one as problematic as something using the N-word? That's a gross contradiction.

    Another assumption that you made, was that Quinsy was not going to be in the film. How do you know this? Did you see the film that has to be yet to be made? Quinsy was the FIRST person that I interviewed and I spent more time talking to him than anyone else. He just happened NOT to be in the Kickstarter video.

    Lastly, this WAS NOT A TRAILER. Trailers are made AFTER a film goes into production. This is a kickstarter video. That's it. A 3-minute video that discusses why we are raising funds.

    I AM disappointed by what appears to be more Black-on-Black controversy in the face of racism. I think your energy would best be served calling out the powers that be than a person who is supposed to be your ally. Meanwhile people in both of our communities, continue to experience racism and oppression.

    At the end of the day, all dialogue about my film is good dialogue so thank you for your support.


    Best,
    Shantrelle

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    Replies
    1. Shantrell, thanks for your response, I am very glad to hear to hear that Gario is in the video, although I must admit I not a great fan of him, but that's another story. But for the record, I deeply respect what he has accomplished. Apparently I got the wrong impression from what I read, but the Zombie part is still correct. But that's a small detail.

      The large part of my post was not about Gario, but about your claim that black Dutch parents are letting children be selected to dress up as Zwarte Piet. It’s the headline of the posting by the way. I know it's very convenient to shift the focus towards Gario, but 90% percent of my post and my comments were not about Gario.

      -----
      I have tried very hard to stay polite and will continue to do so.

      You have deeply offended me with your claim that I would dress up my children as black Pete. That is the most offensive statement I've heard in my entire life. And yes Shantrell this is very personal, especially since you claim that you are black. And the fact that you try to raise money with such a claim is even … I want to say what is on my mind, but I would degrade myself if I said it. And for record, the African-American I mentioned in my response to Jennifer, he is my father in law.

      The response of that African-American lady on your blog who congratulated you for exposing my little dirty secret, infuriated me even more, just as your response. You made no effort to correct it, instead you replied that it takes a village to change me. Then you must be a black messiah.

      As for your documentary, as black blogger who needs to support these documentaries, I hope it will be a success. That’s why I supported you and advised others to do so as well, in spite of the insult. We call it loyalty and that’s my responsibly towards my black community. But as a loving black father and a husband, I am not absolutely not interested in your documentary.

      And please Shantrell, don’t throw African proverbs at me. Insulting black parenthood after all we have been trough in history means that you need to shape up your blackness. You know your African-American history, maybe it’s time you learn mine.

      I will stop responding to your comment, because your response is also too late. You could have responded earlier. Because you waited so long I had very nasty discussion with Jennifer.

      I think I am going stop blogging, because this is first time since I started blogging four year ago that I’ve been so deeply insulted by a black person.

      -----

      But again, as a loyal black blogger I wish you success with your documentary and I hope it will contribute to the black struggle of both our communities. You are talented curator and a true asset to your community.

      Delete
    2. Erik/Afro-Europe wrote: "I think I am going to stop blogging, because this is the first time since I started blogging four years ago that I've been so deeply insulted by a black person".

      Afro-Europe:
      Your blog enjoys an international following shared by very, very few Black oriented sites in the blogosphere. Your blog is unique.

      I know of no other website or blog where, daily, one can find threads and posts covering the African Diaspora in all its diverse facets and manifestations the way you do. It is not at all uncommon for topics to range from Africans in European antiquity, Afro-Brazilians and affirmative action, Afro-French elected officials, or African-Curacaon folkloric dance. These examples are a small sampling of the diversity you offer here.

      If it is any consolation, Afro-Europe, from what I've seen at many other Black-centered blogs and sites the level of insult you feel was extended to you pales in comparison to some of the cyber drama that runs amuck at some sites---Black person to Black person. There is an extremely popular Tumblr blog that I follow where, the Afro-Dominican blogger has been threatened with physical assault, death threats, and all type of wish that grave physical harm come to her---and she still goes on; posting seven days a week.

      For several years I was an ardent follower of the Afro-Cubaweb group http:wwww.afrocubaweb.html, another Afro-centered site dedicated to all things Afro-Cuban. The insults, disrespect, anger, and repeated intentional crashes of the site by anti-Castro Cuban-American exiles became so out of control that the site's owner decided to close the discussion option at the site. He constantly makes updates with the latest news and events about Afro-Cubans, but there has not been a discussion group or comments section for several years now.

      There is a popular Facebook Afrocentric group I follow where, once again, it seems that some followers (they have posted photos of themselves as being Black), go out of their way to aggravate and post catty, nasty comments to the page's owner. (Also Black). I cannot tell you why this happens, but it does. I don't think any site whose purpose is to inform, unite and uplift the Black community, and especially on a global scale the way the Afro-Europe blog does, is immune.

      I say this with the hope that you will reevaluate your sentiment of feeling so aggrieved by insult from a Black person that you would decide to stop blogging. Your fans far, far outnumber your detractors, Erik/Afro-Europe. And from what I have read of this "misunderstanding" the value of this unique blog has not been diminished by any comments made by anyone. The Afro-Europe International Blog, in my opinion, still remains the fantastic space we've come to love and be inspired by.

      Thanks for this blog. We of the African Diaspora need it!

      Delete
    3. John thanks for your kinds comment. I mean it. I've recieved many insults, from racist or from black people who thought I was just plain ignorant, so I am used to it. But this touched the essence of what being black is all about, at least for me.

      I won't go on into detail but I grew up in Amsterdam with Jewish neighbours, they ate with us and we ate with them. What I learned from them was how words can change perspective. One day the Jews of Amsterdam were respected citizens, the other day they were rats. Well, words are powerful, so sometimes you have to take a personal stand.

      John, from a black blogger and a friend, thanks again for the all the great comments.

      Delete
  14. Not only do I take the liberty to co-sign what John wrote, but as a person who is probably old enough to be your grandmother and the grandmother of each of the other persons involved in all of this, I ask that everyone remember the core purposes and goals for why they do what they do.

    For instance, Erik, why was Afro-Europe started? And are those reasons still valid? Is there still a need for this blog? Does it serve important functions? Does it meet needs that other online forums don't meet?

    Also, now that this blog has reached a point that it has become a well respected and go-to place for Afro-Europeans, for other people of some African descent, and for people of non-African descent who are interested in the important issues and events that are pertinent to Afro-Europeans and other people of African descent...is it really time for this blog to end?

    Since nature abhors a vacuum, another blog dedicated to these same goals would probably eventually take this forum's place, but it would have to start from the beginning to build up the credibility that Afro-Europe has.

    And in the mean time [and I meant to write those two words that way] what happens to people like me, an African American, who is learning so much about Afro-Europeans from this blog and know that there is no other blog like it online?

    And, more importantly, what happens to Afro-Europeans? Where do they go to read about their current issues, their events, and their accomplishments? And what blog can they go to in order to learn more about their history, and discuss those things with people who share their heritage, and with people who have similar heritages, and with people who are different from them all around the world?

    Where are they supposed to go - where are we supposed to go- for such information and such exchanges?

    And, if you stop blogging Erik, what happens to the Afro-Europe blog? Does it continue? If you stop publishing posts, is it your intention to still curate this important archive?

    People are still reading and still responding to old Afro-Europe posts and to current Afro-Europe posts. If you stop blogging, do those post disapear?

    Are you saying that because a particular insult hit you to your core, that you intend to step back, take a breather, but still curate this blog, still add posts, still provide a forum for those who need it to learn from this site?

    Some time people need to step back and renew our spirit. Yet, it seems to me that you are still being called to curate this site.

    You have choices to make. And I don't walk in your shoes, so I can't tell you not to feel what you are feeling. But it seems to that it would be a lost to the world if you were to end this blog without a thoroughly thought out back up plan which include some Afro-European, or more than one Afro-European who would without any gap in service continue to meet the needs that this forum addresses so well.

    All of this is your choice. For the sake of this Afro-Europe forum, I hope that you chose wisely.

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    1. Dear Azizi, thanks for your concerns. On other reason why I have stopped blogging is because I don’t want to use Afro-Europe this way, which I most certainly would have done if would keep on blogging, it’s better to leave it this way. I can better use my energy in a more positive way.

      As for this blog, there are many other bloggers and facebookers who do exactly what I, so nothing is lost. See the list below.

      But I will mail you, I want you to keep on learning.

      Delete
  15. Afro-Europe,

    I HEAR you and I SEE you so PLEASE take what I'm about to say in the best possible way and as a manifestation of "brotherly" love...

    Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I think that you, in the same manner as Gario, took TOO personally what Ms. Lewis meant by a few of her words. Now, I'm not speaking on her behalf (because that would involve intimately knowing the operation of her mind and I am not her) but just relating my own reading of the situation.

    Let me start with this: I can NOT count the number of times I have heard black people, especially within an American context--whether on the television, on a stage, at a podium, in my living room--say with frustration, exasperation and despair, something to the effect of "we are killing each other," or "black people are killing each other," in reference usually to the widespread black on black violence within inner city communities.

    And when that sort of comment is made, it is to be understood as hyperbole; clearly not ALL black people “are killing each other,” fighting, participating in gang warfare, etc… Not even MOST black people have a hand in that sort of thing. However, WE, as a unified black American community, feel the pain, BEAR the weight and take a certain amount of [social, political, emotional] responsibility even for the small percentage of black people that do engage in “black on black violence.” Personally, I can assure you that I have never killed anyone nor do I know any other black Americans who have done so. However, do I think that “black people are killing each other” is adequate and justified HYPERBOLE within that particular context? YES.

    My point is that Ms. Lewis was not saying that ALL Afro-Dutch/Surinamese/Antilleans are complicit in the propagation, continuation and exacerbation of the Zwarte Piet tradition. As Ms. Lewis, Mr. Gario, you and I well know, there are CERTAINLY folks within the black community in the Netherlands who outwardly and inwardly oppose and take issue with Zwarte Piet. Are there blacks in the Netherlands who have allowed their children to blacken up as Zwarte Piet? YES. I personally know an Afro-Dutch/Surinamese guy who has played that role before…JUST spoke with him the other day. And I know about 15 more who would NEVER dress up like Zwarte Piet. She was not saying that YOU would allow your child to blacken up like Zwarte Piet. And she was not diminishing Gario’s tremendous efforts and those of other Afro-Dutch who have rallied against Zwarte Piet and likeminded racist institutions.

    Yet in the same way that one black person losing his life to “black on black” violence in the inner city is one too many and thus warrants the weary, frustrated “we are KILLING each other!” lamentation, so does Ms. Lewis’ exasperated dismay in recognizing “Black people's complicity with degradation, oppression and blatant disrespect” in the Netherlands. So, even if that statement doesn’t apply to ALL or even MOST Afro-Dutch, the fact that it applies to ANYONE at all, in my opinion, is cause for frustration, anger and disappointment. And that’s all Ms. Lewis was expressing: her OWN, INDIVIDUAL, in the moment weariness about the “state of blackness”(my words, not hers) within the Netherlands coming off of a trip to that museum.

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    1. Still not done...

      Do I think that there are a number of Zombie-fied black bodies walking around in the Netherlands? Yes. I also think that there are quite a few still crawling around the United States…and Brazil…and the Dominican Republic…and Ghana. Like I’ve said elsewhere on this site, as people of African descent, we must ALL drop the EGO and unite as one when it comes to battling and fighting racism and racist institutions. An African-American, a Surinamese, a Jamaican and a Nigerian have a lot more in common than they do differences, especially in regards to possessing a black body maligned by hundreds of years of racism, discrimination and oppression. They may manifest in ways that deserve some specialized and individual attention, but ultimately we have all been made to suffer from the same disease. Hurt egos and in-fighting are nothing but a waste of time.

      In co-signing with the beloved Azizi and John, you have provided an invaluable resource. As a member of the African diaspora, your opinion is EVER welcomed, valued and needed. We WILL butt heads. It is inevitable. But more importantly, we must be willing to apologize, take a pain killer, SEE the bigger picture and forge ahead. Much too much is at stake. In other words…KEEP BLOGGING. :-)

      Delete
    2. BlkViking, thanks for the comment. But if you put a photo on your site with a girl dressed up as Zwarte Piet and you write that black children are selected to play Zwarte Piet in their school and you write that black parents are dressing up their children as Zwarte Piet and then you ask people to give you money for a documentary so you can fight this, then it’s different. And the sad part is that uninformed black people actually believe her.
      Black Dutch children have nothing to with this. That’s why I am furious over the fact that she is using a class room photo of a primary school to “expose” them (and their parents), so she can get funding. One of her fans even congratulated her for “exposing our little dirty secret”. I think she made another twenty bucks.

      Delete
  16. BlkViking, there is nothing to apologize for. The only thing I assumed was that the "conflict" between Gario and Lewis over Zombie statement had caused that he would not appear in the documentary. So I assumed the wrong thing. But that is not the issue here.

    It’s not about the zombie statement, not about the black messiah statement, and not about the Niggaz in Paris statement. The main issue here is that the image of a small black child is being used to proof that little black children are being dressed up by their parents to play Zwarte Piet. Although I understand what Lewis is fighting against, the end does not justified the means.

    Let's not waist no more energy on this topic. Who is wrong and who right, time will tell. I wish you all the very best.

    ReplyDelete
  17. lets hope that this documentary will be done in a tasteful and objective manner. What I see is that all of her 'research' and 'interviews' are leading to one thing: her desire to make herself famous with this film. You don't go all over the internet claiming racism if you are to remain objective and allow the viewer to make his or her conclusion ! What are your motives? Hopefully whatever fame she obtains from this film she will remember 'her so called' brothers and sisters in Holland and 'pay it forward'! Lets all sit back and see what she produces.
    Afro-Europe wishing you continued Success and Blessings!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. What does Black Pete have to do with the celebration of the birth of Christ Jesus anyway?

    The Europeans stole and continue to steal many things from the Africans, but they have been unable to steal or even co-opt our spirituality.

    I might promote a new Christmastime character myself and Call him "Beit - The Little White Thief". Beit would be harmless but he would come around and steal all the Christmas presents - or anything else he could get his grimy little hands on. All in good fun of course.

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    1. Nothing, personally I consider him as a freed slave, as Saint Nicholas is among many other things the patron saint of innocent prisoners(and in some legends he saves people from slavery). Considering that Zwarte Piet, who seems to have been a pre-existent element, just like the horse, in Schenkman's book, appeared in the abolitionist era, a black person as companion would give a clear abolitionist statement, the freed innocent prisoner as a fitting companion, and a pair of hands to hold the many attributes of the saint.
      Combine this with the fact that there was a tradition to depict St. Nicholas as dark skinned, (topping with much darker than the Obamas), as well as another one going for very white to stress his holiness, So both dark and white skin were already associated with Saint Nicholas before the first known appearance of Zwarte Piet.
      There was also a tradition in some Dutch localities of young men painting their faces black, to commit all kinds of mischief, more or less intimate, not excluded. The current "negro impersonators" are a lot less annoying, though disturbing, undesired intimacies are much less likely now.

      Nobody understands Zwarte Piet, nobody knows where he came from, everybody who claims otherwise is a liar. He is a black man, without a past, without a story, but not without power who appeared in the abolitionist era. As such he is a unique public domain character, and calling the phenomenon itself racist is complete nonsense, however the manifestations of Zwarte Piet, though not often malevolent, often are, or if not racist as such, still sickening cultural fossils of the way the Dutch people considered black people.

      All Piet has to do with Christmas is that somebody based Santa on his companion St. Nicholas. You cannot call him a Christmas character and expect that a Dutch person will still consider your point. With Christmas Zwarte Piet is as absent as the Easter Bunny.

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  19. Let the whites do it ...seriously, as long as they are not calling you nigger or beating or trying to intimidate you then let the whites do what they feel they have to do...Blacks shouldn't care ...why? Because as a black man I realize that all whites people come from black people--its a fact, whites are genetically inferior to blacks!!!!!

    ...ssshhhh: here's a secret: whites secretly admire black people, in a weird way they want to be black--thus their outrageous behavior

    Brett Strong ...knowledge is king!

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