If it only could be so simple, Black Beauty was the name of a horse, named this way by its owners, a Black Peter is a description or a definition.
This is a little more serious, this is about families who are keeping their children at home when Saint Nicolas and the Black Peters visit their school, families where small children are taught that Black Peter is bad and a symbol for racism, this is about daily life and the people you always used to greet and talk to now turn their heads, this is about being looked upon as a racist, for all the wrong reasons. This is about national historical figures that have nothing to do with colonial racism or slavery. This is about people who immigrated to our country and project their own national history into ours without looking at that countries own history.
Believe me, there is enough empathy in The Netherlands, many of us are thinking of how to solve this the best possible way for everyone involved. There are and have been also harsh words (form both sides) and some comments (from both sides) on social media over the years which makes me ashamed to be Dutch or pale skinned sometimes.
My personal view is that Black Peters appearance / make-up should be as dark black as dark black can be, so no-one knows who it could be behind it, as they have been and should be. (small children have very good skills in visual recognition) No rainbow colored ones, nor brown tones, not even my beloved purple, nor orange or smurfs blue, nor Gouda cheese or syrup waffle style, nor just smudges like Amsterdam will introduce this year so the person is almost visible.
All these ideas, made with best intentions will only work towards the ending of the Black Peters (and make no sense in my personal opinion) and more important will only add to more polarization and discrimation among the children instead (just think about it for a while and it will pop)
In an ideal world (haha) I would like to have the Witte Wieven back as well, mingled in with the Black Peters, this would make I think everyone happy, including the people who are against him, but my chances are zero. Reason: they have disappeared from the Nicholas celebrations in the 15th century since the powers with the Protestant Church invaded our country and banned the saint Nicholas celebrations from church and public. When we regained our freedom and slowly the celebrations were held in public again only the Black Peters returned with Saint Nicholas. Only very, very few people in the Netherlands actually knows that the Witte Wieven / white ghost people used to be once part of the Saint Nicholas story. (I did not until I started my research)
Does anyone know why one of them has disappeared in our history or/and the countries around us? Lucia, Ruprecht, Krampus or Foettard seem to me so very related to either our Black Peters or our Witte Wieven.
Anyhow, as you can see I am passionate about this subject, the reason I have explained a few posts above, this however will be my last post on this for a while, noticed I am starting to repeat myself sometimes Please feel free to ask questions though, I will gladly answer them. For those who have no idea what this is about, go right to the top and start
Why I am writing all this? I leave that up to you to answer. I was raised in the 60ies until a young child in a religious orphanage with unorthodox methods. I know what it was like to be slave, to be punished and abused, physical and otherwise, without any reason. To have no family, to have hunger, to belong to someone/something and have no freedom of your own. My only friends were the limited books I was allowed to read. Did that make me a bitter person, hell no. I always look ahead and over the edge not backwards. There are only 2 important days in every child’s year in Holland, his/her birthday and Saint Nicholas. The complete misinterpretation of Black Peter, calling them a symbol of colonial racism probably trigged things for me.
One of the reasons for me is also Radu, yes him, when I started playing his/this game way way back in the beginning, I had a small problem in-game and I e-mailed it to him. His reply was friendly and to the point solving my challenge in a sec, I was more baffled however by his e-mail signature. “What is worse apathy or empathy? who knows, who cares..” Not only came this from a person who (in my opinion) had humor, it was also the kind of humor I like and practice myself. To make you laugh and sometimes make you think about it at the same time.
I took that thought since then in the back of my mind along my travels. Because my first reaction was.. well, I do... With the means I had/have to my possession I have traveled the world, as before, with art and music as my friend, guide and language. Over the years I have visited many countries, I learned, laughed, worked, admired and was amazed by the many other cultures, the beauty of nature, the impressiveness of architecture. The meaning of symbols and ceremonies. What human’s were/are capable of in creating and destroying. I have enjoyed so many variations of warmth, friendship and hospitality and learned new angles of looking at things. So yes Radu, especially with the Black Peter challenge we have happening in our country I can answer that question now, I know now which one is worse.
Thank you for reading,