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People dressed as the character Black Pete accompany Sinterklaas at a 2009 holiday celebration in the Netherlands. While Sinterklaas, based on the historical figure of Saint Nicholas, is portrayed as an elderly white man who arrives by ship and rides a white horse in parades across the Netherlands, hundreds of adults and children dress up as his helper, Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete, wearing blackface, painted large red lips and black curly wigs, some with large golden earrings. With often buffoonish behavior, the depiction is considered by many to be a vestige of a racist past, originating in the minstrel shows in the 18th-century United States.
(Photo by Paula Satijn) Photo used under CC BY
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First published in the December 02, 2019, 11:19 p.m. edition

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