You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Intersection Episode 12: Why Is Santa’s Helper Wearing Blackface?

Vincent Janninck/Getty Imagfes

Subscribe in iTunes   •   Stitcher   •   RSS Feed

When you think of Santa Claus, what comes to mind? A white bearded fat man? Reindeer? A big sleigh? How about a man in blackface with big red lips?

If we lost you at that last one, it’s probably because you haven’t yet heard of Zwarte Piet, or “Black Pete.” He’s part of a Dutch Christmas tradition that would shock many Americans. We explore the story of Black Pete with Karen Attiah, a deputy editor at the Washington Post, who’s spent a lot of time thinking about how the Christmas character and the Netherlands’s larger racial history intersect.

Then, since everyone is allowed to be a little nostalgic at the end of the year, we take a retrospective look back at Intersection’s most powerful moments this year. We’ve picked out some of our favorite tape of our guests talking about identity, and share them with you in this episode, our last of 2015. 

Thanks for being part of our new intersectional community this year, and here’s to a 2016 full of possibility and hope.

To learn more about Zwarte Piet, check out our reading list: