Survey reveals how Amsterdammers feel about Zwarte Piet

A survey from the Office of Research and Statistics for Amsterdam has revealed that over a quarter of Surinamese Amsterdammers find Zwarte Piet, Sinterklaas' ever-controversial helper, to be discriminatory towards themselves.

It may only be March, but Amsterdam's Bureau Onderzoek en Statistiek has recently published the results of a survey conducted in December of 2012 regarding people's attitudes towards Zwarte Piet.

The survey takes in a whole range of nationalities, from Dutch natives to Amsterdammers of Turkish and Moroccan descent and asks a variety of questions including whether they felt discriminated against by the tradition, or if they felt it discriminated against others.

One percent of the indigenous locals felt that it was discriminatory to themselves, compared with 27 percent of Surinamese and 18 percent of Antilleans.

Moroccan and Turkish citizens in general felt that it was not offensive towards themselves, but 58 percent of Moroccans felt it discriminated others, the highest percentage recorded on this particular issue.

Around half of all non-indigenous residents felt that Sinterklaas' bag-carrier was discriminatory towards others, compared to 25 percent of native Amsterdammers.

It should also be noted that, apart from Antillean, Surinamese, Ghanaian and Moroccan citizens, about half of those questioned felt that the tradition did not discriminate against others.

Participants were also asked what they thought about Alderman Van Es' controversial comments that Zwarte Piet should no longer be involved in the celebrations, or that he should be coloured by a sweep of soot.

The debate on this controversial subject rages every year, and this survey will do little to calm the disparities felt between the indigenous population and those of foreign descent.

Mark McDaid


Mark McDaid

Mark hails from the Emerald Isle but has been living in the land of cheese and deep-fried-indiscriminate-meat since February 2009. He can often be found trying to read through a...

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