Black Pete Matters: Vlaams Belang youth wing launches campaign pro Black Pete
Black Pete Matters, with that slogan VBJ, the youth wing of the Belgian nationalist Vlaams Belang (one of the European allies of Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders) launches a campaign to defend the figure of Black Pete, who is the helper of Saint-Nicholas in local folklore. “Our intention is to preserve this Flemish and Dutch tradition, it’s a valuable element from our culture”, says chairman Bart Claes.
The name of the campaign is a wink to the Black Lives Matter-movement, that protested the controversial tradition in the Netherlands. “The last few years, these troublemakers systematically disrupted the entrance of Black Pete in different Dutch and Flemish cities”, according to Claes. “They are ruining an innocent tradition for hundreds of children.”
100% tradition, 0% racism
Black Pete is the helper of Saint-Nicholas, a traditional figure in Flanders and the Netherlands who brings presents to kids on the evening before the 6th of December. According to folklore, he is black from the soot in the chimney. “Until recently, nobody linked Black Pete with Africans, let alone with slavery. But in an attempt to sour racial relations, black activists have labelled the tradition as a racist caricature” claims Claes. “Black Pete isn’t even a mean figure. He is a fun children’s friend, even more popular than the solemn Saint.”
Our traditions are not negotiable
While a veiled Barbie was announced this week, our Christmas markets are being refurbished as “winter markets” and our Easter eggs replaced with “hiding eggs” in order to avoid offending anyone. It is clear that our culture and traditions are under attack in our own countries. With our campaign, we want to react to this trend. People who live in our nation, have to respect our culture. Our traditions are not negotiable.
The campaign is centred around the website www.blackpetematters.com, where new actions and events will be announced in the run-up to the 6th of December. “We start with a large-scale campaign where we ask people to change their profile picture, but street actions will follow as well.”
Claes also warns the retail chain Hema to expect actions, since they have been at the forefront of replacing Black Pete.