|Time to quit? (Photo by Tenorio81)|
Chances are if you aren't Dutch you've never even heard of "Black Pete."
Although many kids have been told that Santa has helpers, these helpers are often portrayed as Caucasian elves in green suits. And Santa? Well, let's just say that he generally resembles Kenny Rogers more than he does Duke Ellington.
However, since perhaps the 17th century (when weathy Amsterdam citizens had African house slaves), pasty-white Santa
has had a uniquely-Dutch helper (think servant) known as "Black Pete."
Reuters reports that the role of Black Pete is "usually played by a white man in 'black face' with a curly wig and large, red-painted mouth" during the Dutch version of Christmas pageants. Now this might seem hilarious to many a ruddy-cheeked Dutch citizen, but not necessarily to those from minority groups within that country.
Eurostat explains that "out of a population of around 16 million people [in the Netherlands], more than 3.5 million are foreign-born Dutch citizens or the children of non-Dutch immigrants."
Maybe it's well past the time for cherished Christmas traditions to reflect actual human diversity.
Maybe it's also time to rethink "White Santa," along with "Black Pete…"
Copyright November 13, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved