Little Known Black History Fact: The History of Black Peter

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Also in more recent years, protests became more of an urgency when some of the Dutch began wearing afro wigs, gold jewelry and red lipstick to represent Black Peter. Tourists and others have found the character offensive. Attempts were made to give Black Peter a multicolored face, but resistance brought black face back into the celebration. Last year, controversy over Black Peter caused the huge celebration in Western Canada to be cancelled for the first time in 26 years.

At a recent parade in Amsterdam, protestors held signs that said “Free Pete.”  One of the protestors, Quinsy Gario, had been arrested in years past, after wearing a shirt that said “Black Peter is Racist.”  Both sides of the argument have protested, even on Facebook. Those against Black Peter argue that only the Netherlands has supported this type of racism. Anywhere else in the world, Black Peter would not be allowed.

There has been little government movement as a result of the protests, although the Mayor of Amsterdam wrote to the city council and said “[Black Peter] can potentially result in manifestations of racism — for example if black-skinned people are called Black Peter in everyday life…..the first matter of importance is gradualness.”

(Photo: AP)

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