My Thoughts on the Ruling

Last week an administrative court in Amsterdam ruled in favour of the plaintiffs who contested the licensing of the 2013 Sinterklaas Parade in Amsterdam. The plaintiffs argued that granting the organizers of the Sinterklaas parade a permit constituted an infringement of their right to respect for private and family life, since the figure of Zwarte Piet, which plays a huge role in the public Sinterklaas parade, is a negative stereotype of Black people.

The plaintiffs argued that Foundation Sinterklaas Parade Amsterdam, which organizes the parade, could not have otherwise organized the event without the permit the Mayor granted. Because Mayor Van der Laan had not fully considered the objections to Zwarte Piet in his decision to grant a permit, he was summoned by the court to reconsider the licensing of the 2013 Sinterklaas parade. The decision was heralded, as Chandra Frank notes, as “an important outcome of years of protesting and activism by those opposed to Zwarte Piet.” Even though, I could understand why Black folks were happy with the decision, the reasoning upon which the court ruling is based bolstered White supremacy.

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Some words at the public hearing against Zwarte Piet in Amsterdam

Guest post by Patricia Schor

The Sinterklaas parade is the biggest annual festivity for children in Dutch cities, by mid November, when the wise old white man Sinterklaas arrives on land joined by his blackface servants, the Zwarte Pieten. A crowd of adults and children wait anxiously on the passing of Sinterklaas and his jolly black servants, carrying burlap bags filled with sweets and presents. In 2012 the Sinterklaas parade in Amsterdam included more than 700 Zwarte Pieten.

In 2013 Quinsy Gario filed a complaint against the permit the municipality had given to the Sinterklaas parade in the city of Amsterdam, due to the racist character of Zwarte Piet, and urged others to do the same. I was one of the 20 other persons that responded to this appeal. On October 17, we were requested to attend a public hearing in the City Hall of Amsterdam, whereby each of us was invited to elucidate our individual complaints to an official Committee of Legal Affairs that would decide on the case.

At the hearing I read aloud the text that follows. Egbert Alejandro Martina kindly revised the English version of the text. Jan Michiel Aeilkema kindly revised the original text in Dutch, further down.

Continue reading “Some words at the public hearing against Zwarte Piet in Amsterdam”