Sunday, December 04, 2011

Being Aware Of History And Our Place In It Is Essential.


Tomorrow is 5th December, Sinterklas night, where all over the Netherlands, people will be enjoying their evening of poems and presents.

And ignoring the racism, the saint arrives with his slaves to much applause, but no one ever questions whether this is acceptable in the 21st century.

People dress up as the saint and his helpers; they put on black makeup to play the slaves.

What I find strange is that people here do not see blacking up to play the roles of slaves as offensive and racist.

it portrays black people as having no value besides being there for the entertainment of white people.

Or for profit as in cocoa production, where up to 12,000 of the 200,000 children working in Ivory Coast, the world's biggest producer of cocoa, may be victims of human trafficking or slavery.
Or in the diamond industry where they use child labour in diamond mines and polishing procedures in poor conditions mainly in India and Africa. 
Even people who I know who are against racism, do not seem to see it, all they see is their childhood tradition that they have grown up with.

I think that because each generation has passed this unquestioning onto their kids, everyone has accepted this, but to me it is just celebrating racism
This stereotype image needs to go, Sinterklas evening won’t be ruined without blackening faces, Dutch people need to stop holding on to such racist stereotypes. 
The arrival of Sinterklas is a celebration of the times when the Netherlands were making their wealth by selling slaves all over the world; not something to celebrate, not now, not ever.

Traditions are important, but in order to progress  being aware of history and  our  place in it is essential.


Travelogue for the Universe said...

That is so racist. There is a place for history, but not to repeat the bad as if it is good. Thanks for this history lesson. Will tweet,mary

Herrad said...

hi mary,
it really is offensive, i was horrified when i first knew.
couldn't believe it,no one i know here seems to see the racism, the echos of celebrating the golden times here when slavery made the dutch merchants and state rich.
thanks for visiting and commenting.