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Home News Business Zwarte Piet: The blackface debate

Zwarte Piet: The blackface debate

Last updated 4 months ago by Michael Darmanin

Since Zwarte Piet is around the corner, most of you might actually not be aware of the history and controversy behind this tradition in the Netherlands. So, lets dig a bit into the story of this diverse figure before the event takes place.

The traditional Dutch holiday story involves a Sinterklaas, accompanied by a Zwarte Piet, who visits homes to bring presents and treats to children on the eve of 5th December every year. However, his helper, Zwarte Piet, has been a topic of controversy for several decades.

How it is celebrated today

Sinterklaas, portrayed as an elderly white man, arrives by ship and rides a white horse through parades across the Netherlands, hundreds of adults and children dress up as his helper, Zwarte Piet. Impersonators don blackface and black curly wigs, protruding red lips, and often large golden earrings to complete the look. It is this character, and the traditional depiction, which has continued to draw criticism not only from within the Netherlands, but also from across the world, calling the tradition racial discrimination and inappropriate, especially from the Netherlands since it had a violent colonial past.

Today, Zwart Tech, a big name in the Tech industry is playing an important role to remove the stigma around this word. They have been brave enough to name their company “Zwart Tech” and the team is adamant to stop racial discrimination not only in the Netherlands but across the globe.

This is why Zwart Tech deserves all the appreciation!

This IT outsourcing and outstaffing company is playing an important role to make this society a better place for everyone to live in. Zwart Tech is actually delivering what it promised and their diverse workforce is just an example. They stand by their zero discrimination policy in the workplace. Everyone is welcomed to join their team regardless of race, color, cast or religion.

Moreover, Zwart Tech is recognized in the market for introducing companies to the untapped IT talent in Africa. Skilled tech talents in developing nations are not blessed with as many quality job opportunities as their counterparts in the economically developed nations. Therefore, they have built tools and systems that provide Africa-based software engineers with access to quality international job opportunities without leaving their loved ones. Working with them means making a difference where it truly matters!

To know more about their social contributions across the continents, head over to their website

Here’s what Mr. Nelson TA, the founder of Zwart Tech has to say,

Zwarte Piet has been a long-contested character in the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition and as a result, “Zwart” often has a controversial connotation to it when talking about black people. As Zwart Tech’s slogan is Black is Smart”, I aimed for this to bring the positive light back into that word and to give it the proper respect and treatment it deserves. As the company’s function of outstaffing and outsourcing software developers and engineers from various African countries, it is vital that the word “Zwart” reflect beautiful, enigmatic and most importantly, smart. Dressing up as a black person (who fell down a chimney), however, does not reflect these values; it portrays “Zwart” as a character of entertainment. Would you want your action to speak to a better tomorrow? One where there is perfect equality despite cultural or gender difference? Then, an effort to put away your todays pleasure of a painted black face, black wig and red lips would be the right place to start.

In line with our continuous efforts to contribute to the SDG’s, discrimination of any kind is not tolerated at Zwart Tech. Having a diverse team and group of skilled IT talent is essential to the company, and thus their cultures and races must be respected at all times. By showcasing that “Zwart” in the logo and placing it at the forefront of the company’s values, Zwart Tech hopes that they can make an impact and ultimately change the controversy and negativity surrounding “Zwart”. 

Nelson TA, Founder & CEO Zwart Tech

Follow Zwart Tech on Instagram for latest updates https://www.instagram.com/zwarttech/

Alina Nabeel
Alina Nabeel
Alina Nabeel is a writer, content creator and digital marketer. Born and raised in Pakistan, she currently works in The Hague, Netherlands where she is enrolled in a double major bachelor’s degree. She is pursuing her education in International Business Management and Media Communications at Webster University. A writer by day and a reader by night, she is passionate to express her individuality whilst inspiring others by her content. The days when she isn’t reading or writing, she is probably satisfying her inner wanderlust or just staying in her pajamas, binge watching Netflix while hogging on some snacks!


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