I was recently in the Netherlands, the first time I've ever been there around the Christmas season. As I walked the streets, in a bid to do some Christmas shopping, I came across what was for me a shocking spectacle. It was the Sinterklas, the dutch version of Saint Nikolaus or Father Christmas, accompanied not by Elves, Knecht Ruprecht, or Sneguruchka, his granddaughter like the Russian Ded Moroz usually is. No, the Dutch Sinterklas is accompanied by his "black" , nowadays clownish, previously sinister servant Zwarte Piet. Zwarte piet as I saw it in Holland was a white person with their face painted black and wearing red lipstick, a curly, essentially afro wig, gold earrings, like those worn by the slaves of old. And on almost all shop windows, there were the too numerous to count essential stickers of the black, goggle-eyed, red lipped, curly haired Piet. You can read more about Zwarte Piet and see pictures on Wikipedia
As I walked through that shopping center, I was in shocked that the very "tolerant" dutch people should have such a tradition, and should live it in the 21st century with such gusto. And still wonder why integration isn't happening. For me the fact that Dutch people try to justify this practice when a considerable part of the population is non white says it all. It all reminds me of the carnival in Germany last February, when a colleague told me he and his wife wanted to dress as Africans, asked me where the could find African fabric, which I told him. I even showed his wife how to tie a head tie. Only for him to send me pictures later on and I see that the had also painted their faces black and of course applied red lipstick as well, with the required gold rings in their ears of course. I guess I should be grateful that they at least wore clothes.
As for Zwarte Piet, I am pretty certain black people in Holland are taunted with that name. God help any balck parent who makes the mistake of calling their kid Peter. Maybe one day the Dutch will finally move into this century, and I don't mean by allowing all sorts of junk to be smoked in their coffee shops or sex shows in every street corner.