Okay folks, here’s something to get behind: A documentary from Shantrelle P. Lewis on the Dutch tradition of blackface.
New Orleans-born, New York-residing, Netherlands-frequenting, Black-focused curating, and an all-around master woman, Shantrelle is bringing the Zwarte Piet debate to a bigger screen. And I think that’s just fantastic.
Zwarte Piet’s supporters and opponents alike have a tendency to make this yearly tradition of blacking up into a national issue. And to a great extent, it is. The celebrations are perpetuated by Dutch people. And local opponents have the most personal experiences and confrontations with the attitudes of racism and disregard that are represented in these celebrations. And let’s not forget about the examples of racism in the Netherlands that slap us in our non-white faces year-round, not just during the holidays. If a fundamental and systemic change is really going to come (and I like to believe Sam Cooke when he told us it will), it needs to happen in the Netherlands. And Dutch people need to be motivated or coerced to make the changes themselves. Like a nation of Aquarians, they won’t be told what to do.
But real coercion comes in worldwide numbers. And we certainly cannot dismiss the fact that this is also a global issue. As much as people like to deny it, Zwarte Piet stems from the ignorance-drenched globalization of a racist practice. The Netherlands did not exist in a bubble during the 19th-century, when Piet was born. And it certainly doesn’t exist in a bubble now. We are part of a global community. Whether born in the Netherlands, moved to the Netherlands, never been to the Netherlands, or never heard of the Netherlands (well, check yourself on that one), this affects all of us. So why should folks in the Netherlands be expected to continue fighting the good fight in isolation?
Let’s fight the fight in a united, global front. Let’s get as much worldwide attention on this issue as possible. Let’s show Dutch people that if you mess with some of us, you mess with all of us. Let’s support Shantrelle’s film.
She’s well on her way to reaching the $20,000 goal for her Kickstarter campaign, with supporters aplenty (my Mama included!). And there’s no doubt she’ll reach it. Maybe some blackgirlgone readers can help her get there. Won’t you consider being a part of the global movement?
Here’s the Kickstarter link again: Black Pete, Zwarte Piet: The Documentary
And should I mention I’m in the trailer? Does that help?
In anti-Piet solidarity. See you at the premiere!