Arianne Zwartjes, "Zwarte Piet, The Dutch Tradition of Blackface"
Zwarte Piet, The Dutch Tradition of Blackface: What November in the Netherlands Can Teach Us About Ourselves
It was on a morning walk through our mazelike neighborhood in the southern Dutch city of Maastricht that I first saw him. Staring through the glass of someone's front door, below a heart-shaped wooden door-sign with hand-painted letters: Love never takes a holiday. The doll was crafted in Raggedy Ann style, black cloth sewn into a round head, lips of red felt, white lining the eyes. He leaned sideways, grinning, black-yarn knots of hair around his head.
I'd known this moment was coming for some time, though that didn't reduce the shock of it. When my wife started the teaching job we'd moved here for, she brought home the school's yearbook. We were sitting on the couch, flipping through the pages when we stumbled across an entire double-spread of first- and second-graders, posing gleefully with what was clearly a white adult in blackface. Thick red lips, face and hands completely blackened, a curly wig atop. We were floored.
We read in the comments below the photos that the blackface character is known as Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete. I looked at the faces of the kids of color in that classroom photo, wondering how they felt when they saw this person, clownishly made up as a caricature of someone who might look like them.
We started to ask around about Zwarte Piet—who is this character? What's the deal with him? What we were really trying to ask, in effect, was: how is it possible that such a celebration still exists in the Europe of today?
We got a confusing array of answers. Zwarte Piet is the mischievous accomplice to Sinterklaas, or St. Nicholas. Sinterklaas was based on a Turk, but now the children are told he comes from Spain. Black Pete was based on a former slave from North Africa that the Turk bought and freed, but these days he's based on a Moor from Spain. No, he's based on a chimney sweep blackened from going up and down the chimneys. He and Sinterklaas sail around from Spain to deliver gifts to all the children of the Netherlands (and, it turns out, parts of Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany too). He brings candy and can be seen jumping around on rooftops, and looking in on families through the chimneys. He is playful and mischievous and all the children love him. Except for the part where they're told that if they're bad, he'll catch them up in his jute sack and take them back to Spain. Or Turkey. He used to be black but now his cheeks are just dusted with soot. It's not a harmful tradition because he is such a source of joy and delight to the children. Everyone, everyone loves Zwarte Piet.
At one time, "everyone" in the U.S. also loved performers in blackface—at least, everyone who was white. When the performance of blackface started in America, it started in the North, not in the South as most of us might imagine. It started, in part, because white people in the northern states were curious about the exotic plantation life and about the black people they had little direct experience with.
White performers blackened their faces with burnt cork and performed grossly caricatured black characters who were enslaved in the south. They spoke in an exaggerated black vernacular and portraying bumbling, childishly unintelligent, country-bumpkins who were frequently compared to animals and who were, almost always, the butt of the joke. Posters for minstrel shows of the time show dark-faced cartoon-like characters with gigantic red lips, large white eyes, and a frizz of hair who bear titles like the "Prancing Pickaninnies" or "Mammy's Little Kinky Headed Boy." (1)
I began to do some research on the Dutch character Zwarte Piet and learned that he was the servant of Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, a regal, white-bearded white man atop a white horse wearing red robes and a bishop-like mitre, carrying a gold staff. Apparently St. Nicholas of Smyrna came from what is now Turkey, but his relics were later moved to Spain, hence the confusing divergence of answers about the geographical origins of these characters.
In 1850 a children's storybook published in Amsterdam first documented the character of Zwarte Piet. The book, Sint Nikolaas en Zijn Knecht, or "Saint Nicholas and his Servant," was written by a primary-school teacher named Jan Schenkman, (2) and it became so popular that it stayed in print until 1950.
Zwarte Piet spoke broken Dutch, wore gold hoop earrings, and performed absurd antics for the entertainment of the children—and he eventually proliferated into a crowd of Piets who accompany Sinterklaas each year. "While some say that their darkness comes from climbing through chimneys (as did the Italian immigrant chimneysweeps of the nineteenth century)," writes one scholar, "their likeness to Al Jolson is hard to miss." (3)
Around the same time as Jan Schenkman's book was first published, minstrel shows were hitting their peak popularity on the other side of the Atlantic. Minstrelsy began to emerge in the U.S. around the 1820s and waned in popularity by 1900, but performances by white actors in blackface persisted well into the 1900s (in the case of the extremely popular Al Jolson, for example, Hollywood produced The Jazz Singer in 1927).
We also exported our practice of blackface: in the early-to-mid nineteenth century, minstrel troupes from the U.S. traveled to Europe and in fact to most other parts of the world. In the U.K., especially, the idea of blackface took a deep hold on the imagination of the (presumably mostly white) British public. (4)
This all started well before Jan Schenkman wrote his 1850 book introducing Zwarte Piet, so one might feasibly imagine that the minstrel troupes of America even helped inspire what has become a widespread Dutch performance of blackface.
A few weeks later, in early November, I was paging through the junk-mail catalogs that came in the mail. I opened to a holiday section in the middle of the drugstore catalog, and there he was. Somehow, no matter how many times this happened—this sudden exposure to images or representations of blackface—it never lost its surprise, its shock value for me.
In the drugstore catalog, holiday paper plates and cups sported an array of faces: white court jesters, Sinterklaas with his red hat, and Zwarte Piets—their cartoon-like faces black or brown, their lips large and red, the whites of their eyes outlining large black pupils. For children there was a three-piece Peter-suit, complete with a curly black wig and jester's cap. A holiday Playmobil set contained two figures: Sinterklaas, white-bearded on his high white horse, and next to him a brown-skinned Zwarte Piet, holding aloft a long stick and carrying a sack of gifts. On a third page of the catalog, filled with holiday candies, there was a bag of chocolates that could have come straight from an 1850s minstrel-show poster: dark chocolate faces with round white eyes, big red lips, and large loops of icing-hair.
I knew that the Dutch don't have the same history of slavery, or even minstrelsy, on their home territory to contend with as we do in the U.S., but still I sat there wondering how anyone could look at these clownish representations of black faces and not feel that they are insulting. Or feel that that insult, taken within the larger power structures and wealth inequality of our current world, isn't utterly incriminating of its perpetrators.
A few days later I was in a kitchen-supplies shop looking for Christmas gifts, and I saw a bag of Italian coffee with what appeared to be an Aunt Jemima-type character on the front. And several weeks after that, we were watching a soccer game when we saw that one of the Belgian teams' mascot is a classically stereotypical American Indian head, in full feather headdress. I saw another version of this, a full American Indian costume, headdress and all, in the window of a costume shop that was already gearing up for Carnival. How did these racialized images, which seemed to have originated on another continent, make their way here? I thought in bafflement each time I saw them. Apparently, racism—with its vigorous doses of exoticization and appropriation—is catchy.
Many scholars believe the Zwarte Piet figure has its roots in the chained devil-figure that accompanied St. Nicholas in medieval iconography—a permutation of the pagan demon Krampus, who can still be seen in terrifying regalia at winter celebrations in the mountain regions of Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Italy, and Croatia, as a recent photo spread in The Atlantic bears unsettling witness to.
Though this aspect of the story has apparently softened somewhat over time, Zwarte Piet was initially used to strike fear into the hearts of children to inspire good behavior—he was often shown carrying a rod or a birch stick with which to frighten or punish any misbehavers. Even today, a professor at the University of Maastricht describes the tradition thus: "the children know Zwarte Piet as the one that hands out sweets and gifts from his big bag... [but] the children also know that once the big bag runs empty, Zwarte Piet fills it with all the children who have been 'naughty' in the past year, and then takes them away with him—back to Spain!" (5)
It is impossible to read this without hearing echoes: the association of black men with fear is not a new concept to those of us from the U.S., where we've progressed from the era of lynching black men who were accused of looking at white women, to the era of shooting black boys in hoodies as they walk down the street, sometimes with a bag of candy held in one hand.
Today, there is a Pete for every function, and they have proliferated like the profits clearly being made from the selling of holiday toys, decorations, TV shows, movies, costumes, and candies. There is a navigation-Pete to steer the steamboat, a wrapping-Pete to handle all the gifts, and a head-Pete to be in charge of all the other Petes. The children's Club van Sinterklaas, or Sinterklaas Club, has a lineup of Petes on the website that includes test-Pete, who tests the gifts for breakage ("a true Pete-maid, who loves her pink clothes"); a music-Pete, who looks like a cross between a dark-skinned Elvis Presley and a vampire; and a kitchen-Pete, who "cooks the most delicious meals for Sinterklaas and the rest of the Petes."
Pete's role may have changed somewhat, from unintelligent and unintelligible jester to a "full assistant to the absent-minded saint," (6) but in most cases, the only change to his blackface costume has been to lose the gold earrings.
In the U.S., blackface has also been a profit-making endeavor, and has continued far past the era of minstrel shows: Hollywood has never fully relinquished its use, in the 1930s and '40s producing a number of films starring Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, and Bing Crosby in blackface. In more recent decades we've seen Dan Akroyd, Ted Danson, Ashton Kutcher, Robert Downey Jr., and Julianne Hough appear in blackface in a variety of contexts, including in feature films.
And the Metropolitan Opera just announced last year, in 2015, that it will finally cease its use of blackface (facilitated by stage makeup with names like Indian Red and Otello Brown) (7) in its staging of Verdi's Otello.
Looking around online, I stumbled across an old photo of Josephine Baker, on a 1957 visit to the Netherlands, meeting Sinterklaas and a blackface Zwarte Piet. I tried to image her reaction, which is not clear from the carefully schooled smile on her face, and could only come up with a sense of horror. Though I searched and searched, I could not find anything else written about this moment.
Prior to moving to the Netherlands, I had imagined the racialized landscape of Europe dividing primarily along lines drawn by Islamophobia (which is certainly partially true), and so to find this striking visual remnant of Europe's colonial and slave-owning past still being vibrantly and gleefully celebrated was a shocking surprise.
I remembered what two of my Belgian students told me in class the year before, when we were analyzing racialized narratives from U.S. literature. "We never talk about these things in Europe," one of them said. The other student nodded. "They do exist, but no one really talks about them, it's all just ... kept quiet and polite."
Of his time in the small Swiss village of Leukerbad, James Baldwin wrote in his 1951 essay "Stranger in the Village":
Some [people in the village] thought my hair was the color of tar, that it had the texture of wire, or the texture of cotton. It was jocularly suggested that I might let it all grow long and make myself a winter coat. If I sat in the sun for more than five minutes some daring creature was certain to come along and gingerly put his fingers on my hair, as though he were afraid of an electric shock . . . In all of this, in which . . . there [was] no element of intentional unkindness, there was yet no suggestion that I was human.
Europe's black possessions remained—and do remain—in Europe's colonies, at which remove they represented no threat whatever to European identity. If they posed any problem at all for the European conscience, it was a problem which remained comfortingly abstract: in effect, the black man, as a man, did not exist for Europe. (8)
Though in some ways living in Europe allowed Baldwin to escape the narrow role of the black man in America, it brought a different kind of encounter with racism, one more rooted in the distance and abstraction Baldwin writes of above.
Perhaps that abstraction is in part what has allowed such problematic representations of people of color to continue to this day: I even saw one Amsterdam party-supply shop that had displayed President Obama dressed up as a Black Pete in its front display window.
Or perhaps this distinction is less useful than it seems, as it has been only a handful of decades since popular opinion in the U.S. has (mostly) deemed such portrayals as crossing an unacceptable line.
As late as 1969, for instance, the performance of blackface was still a part of such celebrated traditions as the University of Vermont's Kake Walk, an exaggerated dance competition performed by pairs of white fraternity brothers in clownlike blackface, with one person of each pair also in female drag. When a movement started to eliminate this tradition from the campus, the initial response was to do away with the blackface and instead paint the dancers' faces with green paint, but to retain the "dialect." (9) As I write this I realize I have written "green pain," which is perhaps an accurate if poetic description of what any students of color must have felt upon viewing this hallowed annual performance.
And, really, one needn't turn to traditions that ended in the sixties to look for examples of blackface still being practiced in the U.S. In her article "13 Racist College Parties That Prove Dear White People Isn't Exaggerating At All," (10) Samantha Escobar looks at parties from the last decade that took place on campuses including Dartmouth, Arizona State, Penn State, U.C. Irvine, Duke, and on and on. Some of the parties feature blackface (along with watermelons and gang signs), others caricature Mexicans or "Asians," writ large.
In another bizarre layer of the ongoing Zwarte Piet blackface character, its celebrations spread to Suriname, which the Dutch colonized, as well as to the Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean. In an opinion piece in the Jakarta Post, Agnes Titi Kusumandari writes, "I remember being terrified of being whipped by the curly-haired black guy," and he continues, "My father ... still remembers how his father was sometimes asked to play the role of Black Pete in his days, 'as he was black and small, not like Santa Claus.'" (11)
Black Pete makes those who are dark skinned feel "inferior and wicked," he concludes, "while Santa Claus represents the strong, good, white and wise other." The image of the Playmobil set, with Sinterklaas sitting high and noble on his horse wearing his gold miter, while a brown-skinned Zwarte Piet stood beside him wearing basically a jute-sack tunic, plays in my head.
I even came across one Facebook comment by a parent at the Netherlands International School Lagos, asking how the Dutch faculty could possibly think it appropriate to show up at a school in Lagos dressed in Zwarte Piet blackface. Her comment was subsequently removed, which made me wonder if she received blowback for the post.
And in one more layer of distortion laid atop this already-rather-creepy tradition, I read in the newspaper that in 2015 there were a rash of burglaries committed by white men in Zwarte Piet blackface, (12) and one instance from northwestern Belgium where a murderer used the disguise to stalk the wife and daughter of a man he'd killed. (13)
Not surprisingly, there is a growing anti-Black-Pete movement within the Netherlands, led by campaigns like Zwarte Piet Niet ("Not Black Pete"), Stop Blackface, and Zwarte Piet Is Racisme ("Black Pete is Racism"), and signed onto by groups like the National Council of Moroccans, MAD Mothers, the Caribbean Dutch Foundation, and the Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers.
It has not been a kindly received push for change. There have been death-threats sent to those who protest the tradition all over the Netherlands (and even those in the U.S. who have published critical articles or films), and threats of assassination against organizers of a protest in Antwerp, in Flemish Belgium.
One woman, who requested that a popular department store remove the black models dressed as "Petes" from their display windows, was severely harassed: she received thousands of threats in just a few days, expressing hopes that she would be raped, advising her to jump in front of a train, or—most evocative of Europe's painful past—to crawl through the chimney of a crematory. (14)
Watching video of the November protest (and antiprotest) at the children's event where Sinterklaas and his entourage of Piets made their national arrival "on their boat from Spain" was unsettling. The camera panned across a sidewalk eight deep with white faces, mostly men, chanting their support for Zwarte Piet. "Fuck off, go away!" they tell the camera as it pans over them. (15)
The protesters are lined up on the opposite sidewalk, a small sea of mostly brown faces in an otherwise-white landscape.
"Look at the monkeys! Look at the monkeys!" a white girl in a black hoodie begins to chant at them, her face twisting into the distorted grimace of her chant. The white adults and young teens around her snicker, hands over their mouths, in a mixture of discomfort and amusement.
In another video, from the Reigersbos neighborhood on the southeast side of Amsterdam, a well-dressed older white woman asks the police about the protestors: "Why do you let this happen? Just arrest them all!" "We cannot do that, m'am," replies the white female cop standing next to her. "Well, put a noose around their necks and then they will all go," she says agitatedly, gesturing forcefully at her own throat. (16)
This moment, to me, was almost more disturbing than the chanting girl, who seemed to want to be a provocateur; in contrast, this woman just wanted the disturbance to all go away so she could resume her day unbothered. Her words revealed a more unrehearsed, un-self-aware racism, one that tapped into imagery and symbolism of the centuries-long racial violence we are all too familiar with in the U.S.
That evening, biking to meet my wife for dinner after watching hours of video, I suddenly began to see them everywhere—in shop displays, apartment windows, hanging in the doors of houses—Zwarte Piet dolls propped up and grimacing. I imagined they were stalking me, skulking in every corner, until I began to feel almost paranoid. They seemed like the lurking evidence of a hidden, malevolent white supremacism in what was, just weeks ago, a placid and tolerant-seeming society. It felt suddenly like there was an angry undertone to all the festivity, ready to stab out at any dissenter in the flash of a moment.
I began to ask all the white people I know here how they see or understand the tradition of Zwarte Piet. I was not looking for their justification of this blackface character; I wanted to understand how they see themselves in relationship to the celebration of Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet. I suppose I should not have been surprised that most of them seemed to simply shrug it off. Yes, the critiques are probably right, but it's a long-standing tradition. It will undoubtedly eventually fade away. One recurrent answer that stood out to me is along the lines of, "eh, it was an innocent tradition, fine when Holland was only full of white people, but now that the country has more communities of color, we should probably change it." What I found fascinating about this response is how stubbornly it ignores the colonial past of the Netherlands, the wealth the country amassed from the slave trade and extracted from the colonies—not to mention how deeply a practice such as this can affect, for example, a country's foreign policy and interaction with the rest of the world, even in a hypothetical example where the entire population of the Netherlands is suddenly white.
A few days later, a Sunday, we went into the center of this little city to wander the Christmas market, and there were the live Zwarte Piets themselves, standing in the shopping area, handing out flyers with their makeup-blackened hands. I danced away from them in deep discomfort as we walked by, unsure where to put my gaze.
Reflecting on the experience of witnessing "Zwarte Piet season" in the Netherlands, it does not feel particularly useful to me to rest in the easy critique of the foreigner, scandalized at this clear remnant of colonial racism, so easy to express because it does not—for once—implicate me. And I am not speaking from the moral high ground here, as anyone who's been paying attention to the rash of publicized police killings and abuse of black bodies over the past several years in the U.S. can attest (and as has been pointed out by a number of people, this violence is not new and not limited to police abuse).
Certainly it is impossible to look at this Dutch tradition without thinking of the individuals whose bodies have been brutalized in horrifying ways over hundreds of years in the U.S., in lynchings and beatings and dragging-behind-trucks. Or without thinking of the vicious Belgian colonization of the Congo. Or of the Dutch-owned West India Company's domination of the shipping trade in bodies, from East Africa to the shores of the Americas, or of Dutch slave-holding in Suriname. Or of the colonial exploitation—of coffee, sugar, tea, human labor—that produced the great wealth of northwestern Europe.
I also cannot look at this practice without thinking of the images we've seen from Europe in the past year—images of boats overturning and drowned bodies washing up on beaches. Images of massive, terrifying, human-made fires crackling in the dead of night outside of asylum buildings that finally offered some refuge—after so much dark, rough ocean and stifling heat waiting for trains and sleeping on benches and being put in overcrowded camps—to those who survived the arduous journey north, after surviving the years of bombings and mass executions and chaos and loss in their homeland.
The ubiquitous representations of Zwarte Piet certainly evoke all of these painful and deeply troubling connotations, and there is no way to escape their inherent racism. But, clearly, it is not the shock of the innocent that white Americans express when we look at the Dutch's joyful celebration of this blackface character.
Perhaps our aghastness comes from the disruption of our romanticized notions of the northern European countries as worldly, socially "enlightened," socialist Democracies with strong protections for liberty and human rights. I know for me this disillusionment is part of it—I had idealized Europe as somehow more successful at dealing with so many of the issues that are tangled and ugly on US soil.
Or, perhaps, our shock is a kneejerk reaction against something that feels a little bit too close to home. And then the comfort of indignant outrage in condemning it.
I suspect it is also disturbing in part because it peels back the illusion—increasingly difficult to hold onto in the U.S., as cameras have made racialized police violence more and more visible to the mainstream—that we as former colonizing nations have advanced far beyond our days of racism and white supremacy; it makes impossible the skewed white liberal affirmation of "tolerance" that denies racism by insisting "we don't see color."
There have been a number of creative and at times bizarre strategies employed recently in the Netherlands to try to refashion Zwarte Piet into a more "acceptable" character. Some cities have introduced an army of "rainbow Petes," and in Gouda, some of last year's Petes dressed as Gouda cheese (complete with circles on their yellow faces to represent holes in the cheese) or as stroopwafels, the classic caramel-filled Dutch waffle-cookie. (17)
There is also a somewhat desperate effort to insist that Zwarte Piet is in fact just covered with soot. At the Meppel arrival of Sinterklaas, a young blond man being interviewed said, "I think everybody knows that Black Pete is black because of the chimney ... and not because of other reasons. But this is my opinion!" he concludes, smiling and shrugging. (18) A professor from the University of Maastricht writes, "Despite the fact that [this explanation] makes absolutely no sense, it is held by a surprisingly large number of Dutch people." (19)
And, in many cases, there is simply total refusal to acknowledge any reason to change. In Meppel, a white man in Zwarte Piet blackface, as he prepared for the parade, said forcefully, "I am a normal average Dutch person in the Netherlands!" And an article in The Independent quoted Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as saying, "Black Pete, that already says it, he's black. We can't change much about that." (20)
Zwarte Piet offers us, in the U.S., a clear lesson in how easily cultural traditions can embed racism, and how insistently a society can then deny it. While it is not particularly useful—or honest—to look at the Zwarte Piet tradition and cultivate a self-righteous horror and outrage, it is useful to ask, where do our similar blind spots lie? To what traditions are we deeply attached, and which of them are damaging or exclusive to other identities? A quick scroll through Facebook on Thanksgiving, for example, provided plenty of links to articles reminding us that our understanding of that holiday's history is likely pretty far askew.
I think it is also useful to ask ourselves: where are we—white America—willfully blind to our colonial heritage? In a reiteration of Baldwin's observation about the comfortable distance at which European colonial rule took place, a UN working group investigating the Zwarte Piet tradition found that a lack of education about their own colonial history "contributes to the surprising tolerance the Dutch show towards the continued use of this form of imagery." (21)
In the US, where, as Baldwin has also observed, we have none of that distance, our colonial history is in some ways "an inescapable part of the general social fabric." So that when there is an attempt to change the wording in our school textbooks, as McGraw-Hill has been accused of in Texas, to say that the Africans brought to the North American continent were immigrant "workers" rather than enslaved, (22) it is obvious that an egregious whitewashing and erasure of history is taking place, and there is a public outcry.
But when those of us who would never have dreamed of attending a college party in blackface—and indeed are horrified at the prospect—make the error of referring to Africa as though it were a single country and culture, as happens so often it is the rule rather than the exception—or when the only authors we've heard of from anywhere on that continent are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Chinua Achebe, or when we've never seen a film made by African filmmakers, or when our research investigates the development of human civilization as though that development occurred only in Europe and Asia—then we are also perpetuating our own blind spots, the cultural ignorance and dehumanization of others that comes down to us directly from our colonial and slave-owning roots.
Almost every person of color I spoke with in the Netherlands expressed a dread of the late-autumn season. Almost all of them had been called Zwarte Piet, at least once, by other school children or by their peers or by their coworkers.
In an appearance on the Dutch talk show Pauw, Dutch Guianese actress Sylvana Simons said, "I wish I could explain how my entire life I and many others have had to maneuver the public domain from September through December. I recently spoke to a friend of mine [who] has an afro and went to a party. She said: 'I'm not going to wear red lipstick and golden earrings because we all know what'll happen.'"
Simons continued, "I'm here at the table to tell you about pain. It may be a pain you can not feel and a pain that you cannot understand but I am telling you about it.... You dismiss my pain and turn it into something like 'yes, but you must have been wearing strange clothing [when someone called you Zwarte Piet].'" (23)
She was the only person of color at that talk show table—or anywhere in the roomful of studio audience, as far as it was possible to see, and I thought how intimidating it must be to sit at that table in that very white room and to speak out publicly on this topic, especially when others have been so aggressively threatened and harassed in response.
This was early December. December 6th would arrive and be gone, and with it, Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet would disappear back to Spain for another year, to be replaced by Christmas crèches and other such decorations. But for the moment, the festivities were in full swing.
It made me feel sad, out wandering through the glittering, holiday-bedecked, bustling streets filled with the excitement of white people. The little black faces tucked into corners of displays, suspended from the ceilings of department stores, or hanging in shop windows felt like constant reminders to any person of color who walked by: You are an outsider. This is not for you.
1. "History of Minstrelsy: From 'Jump Jim Crow' to 'The Jazz Singer'," The University of South Florida Library, 2012. <http://exhibits.lib.usf.edu>
2. Dr. Markus Balkenol, in a talk entitled "Zwarte Piet, A History," Dec 2014. Online video clip. Dr. Balkenol is a postdoctoral fellow in Ethnology at the Meertens Institute of Dutch language and culture in Amsterdam and is also a postdoctoral fellow at Utrecht University. YouTube. Web. 25 Nov. 2015.
3. Markha Valenta (Radboud University, Nijmegen), "Saint Nicholas: The Hard Politics of Soft Myths," OpenDemocracy.net, December 2010.
4. Charles Hamm, "Reviewed Works," Journal of the American Musicological Society, vol. 53, no. 1, 2000, pp. 165-183.
5. Lutz Krebs, "Sinterklaas, Zwarte Piet, and Everything In Between," blog for the Maastricht University School for Public Policy and Human Development Class of 2014-15. Oct 30, 2014.
6. "Wie is die Zwarte Piet eigenlijk?" nos.nl, Oct 23, 2013.
7. Michael Cooper, "An Otello Without Blackface Highlights An Enduring Tradition in Opera," NYTimes, Sept 17, 2015.
8. James Baldwin. "Stranger in the Village." Notes of A Native Son. Boston: Beacon Press, 1955, 1984. pp. 159-75.
9. "University Archives, Record Group 53: Fraternities and Sororities, Series: Kake Walk," UVM Center for Digital Initiatives, Bailey/Howe Library. May 29, 2010.
10. Samantha Escobar. "13 Racist College Parties That Prove Dear White People Isn't Exaggerating At All." The Gloss. Oct 17, 2014. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.
11. Agnes Titi Kusumandari. "The Opinion." Jakarta Post, Dec 23 2009. Web. 25 Nov. 2015.
12. Janene Pieters, "Zwarte Piet armed robbery unsolved one year on," The NL Times. Nov 25 2015.
13. "Als Zwarte Piet Verklede Moordverdachte In Frituur Van Ex Slachtoffer Eddy," HLN.be. Nov 17 2015.
14. "Twentse Sandra ontvangt duizenden dreigberichten vanwege Zwarte Pietendiscussie," Tubantia.nl. Nov 24 2015. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.
15. "Zwarte Piet (Blackface, Black Pete) in Meppel 2015," New Media Platform. YouTube. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.
16. "Zwarte Piet 'Blackface' in Reigersbos – Amsterdam SouthEast," New Media Platform. YouTube. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.
17. Elisa Criado, "Black Pete: 'Cheese-face' to partially replace blackface during Dutch festivities," The Independent, Oct 15, 2014.
18. "Zwarte Piet (Blackface, Black Pete) in Meppel 2015," New Media Platform. YouTube. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.
19. Lutz Krebs, "Sinterklaas, Zwarte Piet, and Everything In Between," blog for the Maastricht University School for Public Policy and Human Development Class of 2014-15. Oct 30, 2014.
20. Elisa Criado, "Black Pete: The Netherlands plan a nationwide consultation on the controversial tradition," The Independent. Aug 15, 2014.
21. Elisa Criado, "Black Pete: The Netherlands plan a nationwide consultation on the controversial tradition," The Independent. Aug 15, 2014.
22. Kiah Collier, "Some Texas school leaders brush off complaints about textbooks that call slaves 'workers'," The Washington Post, Oct 7, 2015.
23. "Sylvana Simons: Zwarte Piet Hoeft Niet Meer Terug Te Komen." Online video clip. Joop.nl. Dec 5, 2015.
Arianne Zwartjes recently relocated from the Netherlands back to the U.S. Her most recent book is Detailing Trauma: A Poetic Anatomy (U Iowa Press); her work is in Tarpaulin Sky, Kenyon Review, Southern Review, and elsewhere. Visit her at ariannezwartjes.com.