I could not believe my ears when I was watching the news this morning. It actually enraged me. The UN advice is that the Dutch feast of St. Nicholas is racist and should be stopped. I grew up in the Netherlands! As a kid, with other kids we looked forward to St. Nicholas as his companions. His companions were handing out hands filled with candy. Pepper nuts, lollies and chocolade letters. Then St. Nicholas would judge us to be good or bad and we would get a present. They were magical years. Of course, when we get around 10, we knew he was not real. We all bragged that we would on THAT year we would tug his fake beard! But of course, when the moment was there, we all chickened out! In part because we still wanted our present I reckon. I was lucky! My dad was Dutch, my mum was British, so I got two parties! Yay to being young in those days. There is an additional thought, when were too old to receive those presents, we hoped that WE would be chosen to get suited up and sooted up, to play ‘Black Pete’ (Zwarte Piet). Then we were the ones giving out candy, handing over the presents. If this was truly about discrimination, do you think we would be so happy to volunteer?
So why this circus? We never thought of discrimination. St. Nicholas dressed as a bishop, his assistants (sometimes named companions) in moorish outfits from the 16th century. Outfits, that were very like the outfits many (black and caucasians) wore in the 16th century. It was Spanish fashion. So why this circus?
A national feast that has been going on for over close to two centuries? If so, then why is Sana Claus acceptable? Is he not that guy who has slave labour going on, Elvish slaves working an a sweat shop to make all the toys for children all year long? Is the honourable Verene Shepherd a little too hypocritical here? All up in arms about discrimination, but sweatshops and slave labour is OK?
The fun fact is that the Dutch outlawed slave trade HALF A CENTURY before America, how is that for insight? Also, slaves were illegal in the Netherlands, which was never the case in America. Yes, I admit that the Dutch were huge in the slave trade in them ‘good old days‘ of the VOC ‘Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie‘. and guess what, the Dutch were the traders, the Americans needed a product and the Dutch traders supplied. If this angers you, well, fair enough, but remember, this was 360 years ago. If we want to get that ‘historic’, perhaps the honourable Verene Shepherd would like to be slightly less sanctimonious and start a trial case against the current American administration? You see, the original inhabitants were displaced, disowned and retrenched again and again. Breach of contract upon breach of contract. A small (extreme rough) esitmate tells us that the Native American population is due 54,000,000 acres American of agricultural and hunting grounds. If the Chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent would be so kind as to start those proceedings and after that we will consider her plea for abolishing a childrens party, which has forever been all about joy and never about discrimination.
But perhaps this was not about the discrimination and all about ‘the’ party. I had to hear for almost a decade how people from EA, Ocean, Mindscape and a few other bitch about the feast of St. Nicholas. It was not about the feast, but about the timing. You see these boys were all ready for the christmas feast and never for the feast of St. Nicholas, so for a long time small toy firms made decent coin on that time. For the bigger players like Mattel, it never mattered as barbie was timeless (perhaps it still is), but many complained.
So why this much hassle about something that has never been about racism?