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A Dutch Party Wants to Make Blackface Parades Mandatory

The Netherlands’ parliament is having none of it.
A Zwarte Piet parade in Gouda.
A Zwarte Piet parade in Gouda.AP Images

This week, the Dutch government has been fighting off a bizarre proposal: to make public parades of performers in blackface compulsory.

This winter, the country’s far-right Party for Freedom (PVV in Dutch) tabled a motion to force Dutch cities to continue using blackface make-up when dressing people up as Zwarte Piet (“Black Peter”), the traditional sidekicks of St. Nicholas who accompany the saint during yearly public parades on December 5. In recent years, Zwarte Piet has become an increasingly controversial figure, and several municipalities have responded by creating a new version of the character with piebald, multicolored face make-up rather than an all-over layer of black.