Monday, December 05, 2005

Sinter Klaas & Zwarte Piet

In this new age of political correctness its often hard to distinguish candour from crudity, or fun from foibles. Be that as it may - its always amusing when one gets into these discussions with other expats, with most decrying what they describe as the lack of political correctness in the Netherlands.
With Sinter Klaas arriving in different towns over the last few weeks, and little Zwarte Piete running here and there, its time for heated arguments yet again!
'What dreadful characterisation, how do i explain to my 7 year old that colour doesn't define 'helpers' fumed my oh-so-correct American friend aka S. She soon found rebuttal in in J's reply - But darling , they are merely dark because they came down the chimney!
S responded with - But what about the hair!
Which actually takes me back to Oeteldonk last year - when a couple of women were walking down the street, with Afro hairdos - that supposedly being their costume. In the meantime, a South African friend who couldn't stop staring at them, and remarked to me with a wry grin - is looking like me entertaining? I responded with - "probably you'd be as entertaining in a blond wig and blue contact lenses!"
One does have to admit that once we've lived in a culture of political correctness ´- many things can seem rather odd here. Like the time my Uncle's Dutch business partner - remarked that his wife had gone on holiday to Turkey with her sister, and was probably getting robbed by all the 'black people' there! This coming from a well travelled, cosmopolitan businessman with work and social interests in many countries in Asia!
But for many expats to generalise based on a few specific instances is probably as dangerous as political incorrectness itself. After all , isn't being pc about not creating stereotypes?
On that doctrinaire note, I must rush. I am not about to miss out on my gevulde speculaas in my little friend -Amelia's school - and get a hug from the Zwarte Piets . Being a sucker for traditional fun - am happy to forget political correctness for today.
Wens je fijne kerstdagen en een gelukkig nieuwjaar ! (Merry Xmas and Happy New Year for the uninitiated!)


Anonymous said...

So which one is Sinterklass ? I only see Zwarte Piets...

Mistress Yoda said...

Sinter K took the picture!

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