The character of ‘Zwarte Piet’ (Black Pete) in the Dutch ‘Sinterklaas’ festival has been a growing controversy in The Netherlands. Many believe the depiction of Black Pete with exaggerated features and blackface make up is racist.
Burobraak has been closely following this discussion for several years now.
Most Dutch people grow up with the ‘Sinterklaas’ celebration, and have fond childhood memories of Black Pete without any racial insult intended. However, reality is the Dutch education system is lacking on its colonial history and legacy of slavery. This may be one possible reason for why the Dutch have trouble recognizing the racist elements in the figure of Black Pete.
The Tropenmuseum dedicated quite a bit of attention to the Zwarte Piet debate in the exhibition ‘Black & White’ (Zwart & Wit). Along with designing the exhibition, we were also invited to contribute content on this subject. This ‘Sinterklaas’ section contains a historic timeline, video interviews, and an interactive game that invites the visitors to design their personal alternative to Black Pete.
Burobraak supports the Anti-Black-Pete movement, and are looking forward to a Sinterklaas celebration that is inclusive and racially sensitive to today’s society. We will continue to communicate the progress of the movement, and aims to be a part of designing the transition.
The Black & White exhibition at the Tropenmuseum is conceptualized and designed by Burobraak. 3D design is executed in collaboration with Geke Lensink.
Photo’s by Arjan Braaksma