There’s already Sinterklaas treats in the shops, we’ve spent the summer in controversy with ‘Zwarte Piet’ and now in Ede, Gelderland, there’s a run on toys featuring the soon to be phased out black festive helper.
Online webshop Lobbes.nl based in Ede has sold all its Fisher Price Sinterklaas sets in one day. We’re not talking millions of sets, but the run on the toys did not go unnoticed. Fisher Price has announced that it will stop producing its traditional sets following complaints related to the figure of Zwarte Piet deemed racist by the courts.
What I’m thinking is in the years to come when the Dutch will be getting used to the phasing out of Zwarte Piet, anyone who has Zwarte Piet toys or decorations will make some extra cash. For all we know, they’ll import stuff from China if they’re not already doing that. And one day, a bit like gollywogs they’ll be seen more ironically than as actual festive figures.
(Link: www.gelderlander.nl, Photo by Aloxe, some rights reserved)
Tags: racism, Sinterklaas, toys, Zwarte Piet
The court of Amsterdam has handed down a ruling today that the entire Dutch media was waiting for about Zwarte Piet (‘Black Pete’, Saint Nicholas’ holiday time helper): it turns out he’s deemed “offensive to black people” and “racist” after all.
Although it was argued by many that Zwarte Piet is just some black figure and that he had nothing to do with slavery, a point that can surely be made, the blackface clown with exaggerated red lips and golden earrings apparently encourages a “negative stereotyping of black people”. In Dutch, when someone is made out to be the ‘bad guy’ in a situation, it is called to be the ‘Zwarte Piet’, which says a lot already about how he is viewed.
Today’s verdict only applies to Amsterdam and it remains to be seen what the rest of the country will make of such a strong and old tradition being struck down. Internet comments are not the nicest at the moment, blaming a few people for ruining it for everybody else and that sort of thing.
I wonder if Zwarte Piet is worth being the perpetual ‘bad guy’ and ‘whipping boy’ for a deeper discussion about racial stereotypes that needs to happen and will see where history will collectively take the Netherlands on this one.
(Link: www.nieuws.nl, Photo: tobysterling.net)
Tags: racism, Sinterklaas, Zwarte Piet
A recent tightening of the Dutch law regulating the sales of alcoholic drinks in supermarkets has affected fair trade stores, Volkskrant reports.
Another victim of the law are tourist information offices who often sell regional beers as part of their services. The new law states that a store needs to have a floor space of at least 15 square metres and needs to sell both pre-packaged and unpackaged food. Fair trade shops tend to fall short of this regulation.
Huub Jansen, spokesperson for Wereldwinkel (the Dutch fair trade chain), called the regulation “strange, because we are still allowed to sell wine through the iInternet and in Christmas packages.”
Junior minister Martin van Rijn hopes the new rule makes it harder for youths to purchase alcohol. “Producers in developing countries are hurt by this regulation”, parliamentarian Vera Bergkamp of D66 countered. She feels Van Rijn should see if a solution can be found for Wereldwinkel.
Jansen added: “Most of our customers are middle-aged women. Our wine turnover is 250,000 bottles a year. That is a substantial hit for wine producers in Chili and South Africa.”
See also: Botox voucher in employees’ Christmas package
Tags: alchohol, beer, Christmas package, fair trade, kerstpakket, racism, teenagers, wine
Saying sorry profusely and ‘distancing oneself from the incident’ is purely being done not to get sued. And suing does not happen that often, but this time the guy from Arnhem who was refused an internship for being black went straight to the police and filed a complaint.
An electronics company in Arnhem refused a candidate based on his skin colour and sadly, the internal e-mail in which this was done was sent to the candidate by mistake.
“I had a look, it’s nothing. First of all he’s dark-coloured (nigger). And he has little experience with computers etc. on his resume.”
The nigger part is in the e-mail as such, and ‘it’s nothing’ means ‘it won’t work out’. The employee that sent the mail by mistake never would have apologised had they not been caught. So basically, they really are racist and the candidate has a point.
A run of racist and discriminatory remarks have plagued the Netherlands as of late, and co-blogger Branko has been writing them up on another blog, calling it ‘The coming out of the racists’.
And after the racist remarks towards a Chinese student that hit television recently, here’s a column by a Canadian of Chinese descent married to a Dutchman of Chinese decent and their takes on it.
(www.deondernemer.nl, Image: Wiering Software’s video game Zwarte Piet)
Tags: Arnhem, Chinese, race, racism
The racist sounding jury of televised talent show Holland’s Got Talent has actually managed to outdo itself stupidity-wise after recently failing to recognise one of their most established singer-songwriters.
This time a Chinese immigrant speaking better English than the Dutch jury was poked fun at purely because of his ethnicity. Xiao Wang is asked his name before singing an opera aria by Verdi and once he says his name, a woman on the jury answer’s “no matter”, reassuring him that his Chinese is not a problem. The crowd sounds shocked, but laughs. A little later, Gordon, the same pop singer we mentioned earlier this week , asks Wang, “what are you going to sing? Number 29 with rice?”, obviously referring to the fact that many Chinese run take away restaurants in the Netherlands. After Wang’s performance which was surprisingly good, Gordon says “that was the best Chinese I’ve had in weeks”. I stopped watching after that.
This video has decent English subtitles, which will have you facepalming in no time:
Tags: Chinese, racism, television
Yesterday I went to the Saint Nicholas parade in Amsterdam.
The bishop of Myra visits the Netherlands, Belgium and other parts of Europe each year to give gifts and candy on his birthday (6 December) to children that have been good and to take children that have been bad back to his palace in Spain.
Recently the appearance of Saint Nicholas’ helpers, the Black Petes, has drawn criticism for its uncanny resemblance to a black caricature.
As a response to the criticism, the city of Amsterdam promised to tone Black Pete down a bit. I did not see much evidence of that, the lips were caricaturally red as ever, although golden earrings seemed to have disappeared.
Tags: Black Pete, racism, Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas, tradition, Zwarte Piet
For many a bad sign, for a selected few, no more riffraff, as Rotterdam gets its first gated community, called Ringvaartstaete (PDF in Dutch). It’s only 12 villas of which 6 have already been sold, according to the real estate agent, with prices ranging from 900,000 to 1.5 million euro.
When I think of gated communities, I imagine inside them a scene out of the American movie Pleasantville, with its idealistic American 1950s. Then, there’s also South Africa with its compounds, clearly separating powerful white people from anybody not fitting that description. And then there’s the ones I flew over some 10 years ago when landing in Moscow, which separated the nouveau riche from the hopelessly poor.
What bothers me the most is that Quote magazine felt the need to caption their photo of the community “Not only for whites”, which I find it scary. The article also ‘reassures’ us, as the real estate agent claims they’ve had the honor of welcoming “their first ‘coloured’ buyer”.
See also Police arrest gardener in rich area because he’s African.
(Link: www.quotenet.nl, Photo by Kai Schreiber, some rights reserved)
Tags: housing, racism, Rotterdam, South Africa
Doctor (‘Medicine man’): ‘Jambalayla, Jambayla’ (= nonsense words, nothing to do with cooking)
Patient: Thank you… I feel much better already.
Caption: It should be easier for foreign doctors to practice here.
I personally know doctors and nurses with perfectly good diplomas from Eastern European countries that cannot or could not find work in the Netherlands, as their diploma was either not recognised or highly devalued.
After 14 years in the Netherlands, a land that generally hates to be politically correct, I can imagine that this cartoon didn’t even raise an eyebrow for most people. I’m not saying I agree, but I do understand why people didn’t have a problem with it: it’s a ‘far-from-my-bed-show’, the Dutch equivalent of ‘it doesn’t really concern me’, after all the medicine man is just a caricature not a real person, someone would say.
However, I also understand why some people would be offended at the depiction of a tribal sounding African-like Black person portrayed as a quack. I just think the cartoon is not that great (Hein de Kort does have his moments), but it does have a racial slant that could have been avoided.
The media have enough Dutch doctor mishaps to report about. Just today a Dutch doctor hit the presses for unnecessarily removing a man’s prostate in Leiden (in Dutch). The man had the same name as someone else. ‘Jambalayla, Jambayla’ to you, too.
(Link to more info, in Dutch: www.parool.nl)
Tags: doctors, Leiden, racism
A homeowners’ association in Rotterdam recently wanted a member to remove a satellite dish from his flat. Dishes are considered an eyesore and they decrease the enjoyment other owners have of their flats.
However, it’s not that simple, Internet lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet writes. Freedom of speech also includes the ability to receive information, which is why judges have been reluctant to outlaw satellite dishes in the past.
The homeowners’ association won its lawsuit last July because the homeowner had other ways to watch his favourite TV channels, such as on the Internet. A fundamental right does not always trump a homeowners’ association’s articles.
Engelfriet omitted to mention that the satellite TV watching flat owner was of Turkish descent. When Dutch people see a street full of satellite dishes, they generally assume that the neighbourhood is popular with immigrants. Homeowners fear that a neighbourhood’s property value will drop if the neighbourhood is perceived to be too ‘black’.
In this case, the plaintiff had also made it clear that it wasn’t he who needed access to the satellite channels, but his wife.
The plaintiff was ordered to pay all his opponent’s legal costs, which the judge determined to be 200 euro.
(Photo by Kai Schreiber, some rights reserved)
Tags: liveable cities, racism, satellites, Turkey
A 32-year-old Ghanaian man was recently arrested by the alien police in Aerdenhout, a rich villa-clad and predominately Caucasian town near Haarlem purely because he didn’t have the ‘right skin colour’ to actually be working there legally. The alien police figured he was working illegally, asked for his papers and arrested him solely on the basis of his skin colour.
The court judged that what the police had done was illegal and let the man go. Not long ago again in Aerdenhout African women were arrested by the alien police on their way to clean houses, with the same result: the cops were in the wrong.
It is totally illegal to arrest anyone based on their looks to then check and see if their are illegally living and working in the Netherlands, but apparently the police, mostly white Dutch men, are too blind with racism to get it. No wonder nobody trusts them.
Dutch ‘left-wing’ blog Joop.nl used the N-word albeit to emphasise what many inhabitants of the Netherlands still think about Africans and other people fitting the n-word description.
(Links: www.waarmaarraar.nl, www.joop.nl)
Tags: Aerdenhout, Africans, alien police, police, racism