"Black Pete", Saint Nicholas' traditional helpers whose faces are painted black, in Voorschoten, Netherlands on Nov. 22, 2014.
Jaap Arriens—Getty Images
September 17, 2015 6:20 PM EDT

City officials in parts of Spain and the Netherlands announced this week that they would end the controversial practice of painting white faces black during a Christmastime celebration.

In Madrid, anti-racism activists relished the fact that city leaders will seek to have an actual black person play the role of “Black Pete” in their annual Christmastime parade, rather than a white person in blackface. “Given the increasingly large community of [color] in our city, it seems absurd that this role continues to be represented by a person with their face blackened,” city councillor Mar Espinar said Wednesday, according to the Guardian.

School board officials in The Hague announced that elementary schools would no longer employ black-faced “Santa’s helpers,” during the holiday season.

Some citizens in both countries have been apt to reject the idea that the character of “Black Pete,” a sidekick of Santa typically portrayed by a white person in blackface, a curly wig, and red lipstick, is racist. The decision however, comes in the wake of a United Nations committee called for an end to “Black Pete” celebrations that could be considered offensive.

[The Guardian]

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