African news explained

A popular Christmas tradition might point to a latent racism

Audio 05:53
Saint Nicholas escorted by his assistants called "Zwarte Piet" (Black Pete) during a traditional parade in central Brussels. According to the folklore, Saint Nicholas arrives in the Netherlands in mid-November.
Saint Nicholas escorted by his assistants called "Zwarte Piet" (Black Pete) during a traditional parade in central Brussels. According to the folklore, Saint Nicholas arrives in the Netherlands in mid-November. Reuters/François Lenoir/Files

Although the Dutch are once again celebrating the arrival of Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas today, a controversy has been raging over the portrayal of his servant, Black Pete.Some in the Netherlands argue that this child's tale perpetuates a negative stereotype of Africans and people of African descent, and the debate has even attracted the attention of the United Nations.Geor Hintzen, a Dutch researcher of the Hague University, comments.