Belgian Dutch Official Dresses in Blackface as ‘Black Pete’ and Is Offended that You’re Offended

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A Flemish minister decided to dress in blackface as Black Pete this holiday season, and refuses to understand how anyone can interpret his choice of dress as being racist.

It is often said that old habits die hard, and this is certainly the case with the character known as Zwart Piet, or “Black Pete,” Santa’s Black sidekick as recognized and celebrated in the Netherlands and in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern region of Belgium. An African servant of Saint Nicholas, the character is depicted as a happy buffoon, mischievous and lazy, and over the years it has been customary for people to dress in blackface as Black Pete. Think of the Christmas parade meets the minstrel show, or Sambo meets Santa Claus.

As was reported in the Independent, Sven Gatz, the Flemish minister of Culture, tweeted a photo of himself in blackface, with his lips painted red and wearing an Afro wig and a Renaissance-style outfit.

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