Black Petes & Black Crooks? Racial stereotyping and offending in the Netherlands

Rebecca Hayes, Katharina J. Joosen, Calvin John Smiley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In the popular Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas, the caricature of his helper ‘Zwarte Piet’ [Black Pete] is often of a black-faced white person. The representation of this character has been surrounded by controversy in Europe and abroad. The following paper discusses these recent controversial media stories in the Netherlands and Western Europe along with the historical context of this character. We also make an argument about how the pervasive imagery in news, television, and theatre of people of color in the Netherlands may be influencing crime statistics by creating and encouraging negative views of ‘the other’. In the Netherlands, Dutch Caribbean and Surinamese first-generation immigrants compared to white, native Dutch are over-represented in official arrest and prison statistics. We theorize that the reasons for this noticeable overrepresentation in crime statistic is it at least in part due to a societal stigma of ‘the other’ and racial profiling of black ethnic minorities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-32
Number of pages17
JournalContemporary Justice Review: Issues in Criminal, Social, and Restorative Justice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018


  • Black Pete
  • Zwarte Piet
  • media & racism
  • racism & crime


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