AMSTERDAM – Amsterdam's mayor and organizers of a large children's winter festival have unveiled plans to reform the image of "Black Pete" — the sidekick to the Dutch Santa Claus — to remove perceived racist elements.
Mayor Eberhard van der Laan said Thursday the "negroid character" of Pete's appearance will disappear over a period of years.
Black Pete has become the subject of protests in the Netherlands, as opponents say he is a caricature of an African slave carried over from colonial times: Pete is usually portrayed by white people wearing blackface makeup, bold red lipstick and frizzy "Afro" wigs.
A large majority of the Netherlands' mostly white population say Pete is a positive figure and deny any racial insult. But a court and racism experts have found his appearance offensive.