Written by: Jehan Daal
“Do not communicate when you are really mad. Do not respond to an email that makes you explode.” That is my advice and I live by my own rules. Even at times when the other one makes me so pissed that I hear the song ‘Man Down’ playing in my head. My respond is cool, calm and collected. Today is an exception, I’m breaking my own rule here. Why? Because this issue really makes me angry and fills me with disbelief and irritation. I tried to keep my mouth shut, which resulted in ruining my long fingernails. So time to speak up, before this vegetarian starts to eat her own fingers.
When the media or politicians talk about doing research or surveys amongst the Dutch population to get their opinion, I get suspicious. Statements like “higher educated people think that,” give me the creeps. Who the # are those people I wonder? Somehow they never ask (me or) someone I know or a friend of my friend. Perhaps I just don’t know enough people.
Okay the case that ruined my beautiful nails: Zwarte Piet. Or in English black Pete. A Dutch holiday mostly for children (even though we adults secretly like it as well). For people who haven’t heard of it, you must have lived in a cave for the last couple of weeks, a short summary of how we celebrate it. (If you want the history, go ask our friend Google.) Weeks before Sinterklaas and the Zwarte Pieten arrive from Spain, there is a special program “Sinterklaas news” where the children can watch how they prepare their trip to the Netherlands.
The holiday Sinterklaas in the Netherlands
On the Saturday that Sinterklaas and the zwarte pieten arrive by boat, the kids will get up early in the morning. They can watch it on tv or go to the harbor to see them live amongst a lot of other children and their parents. The Zwarte Pieten all have their own characteristics and are named after them. The funny one, makes jokes. The music piet likes to sing, the smart one is very smart etc. They have bags filled with gingerbread and other Dutch candy and the kids sing and want a picture of them like they are celebs.
Like other children hang their stockings for Santa Claus, here the children leave their shoes and hope Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet will leave a present. The first time they put a wish list in their shoes, so Sinterklaas knows what presents they would like to receive. The other times carrots for Sinterklaas his horse, or paintings etc. Thekids have to be good in order to get something. Since there are a lot of zwarten Pieten, they know exactly if the kid has been good or bad. If Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet stop by, they fill the shoes of the kids and their parents with candy or a small present, sometimes with a note.
The fifth of December is Sinterklaas his birthday. That evening families and friend gather to celebrate the holiday Sinterklaas. Eating special candy and singing Sinterklaas carols together. Waiting for the big moment when zwarte piet is knocking at the door. He leaves a bag full of presents, mostly for the kids and some for the adults as well.
Now this whole lovely holiday became an issue. Statement: black people think it is racism. “Are we talking about the Dutch black people?” I look in the mirror and notice that I’m black. Since I’m not adopted, there are a lotof brownies in my family as well. All wondering why people are offended. The United Nations send a shepherd to protect the black sheep. Now things got way out of hand.
In the media: some white Dutch people got upset and scream that the black people are taking their holiday away. Ho ho ho (oops that is from another holiday), wait. Not the black people are ruining this, people who pretend that this holiday represents something it doesn’t. Last Saturday some extreme people tried to beat up a black woman at the pro Zwarte Piet demonstration and shouted that she had to go back to her own country. That is racism and has nothing to do with the holiday. And totally not representing the typical behavior in this country.
Now a lot of black people who loved the holiday, suddenly don’t like it anymore. Just because some others tell them it’s racism and they feel like enjoying the holiday, is like embracing racism. What the # is going on? Don’t we see that we are getting played here? That people who want this holiday gone are trying to split us up in teams, because they cannot take on the whole population of the Netherlands?
You know what keeps shocking me and makes me so incredibly angry? That the media and politicians want to manipulate and control us like puppets, well that is a fact. That is their game. But that we choose to stop thinking for ourselves and let them, well that is so incredibly stupid.