Author slams lack of response to Gario’s brutalizationPOSTED: 11/18/11 5:17 AM
“This tradition… only creates an inferiority complex.”
St. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams is “not getting into the zwarte piet thing”, but local author and activist Jose Lake Jr. has criticized the treatment meted out to Quincy Gario, the poet who was brutalized by police during last Sunday’s Sinter Klaas arrival ceremony in the Dutch city of Dordrecht.
“I know Quincy was a student and member of S4 (St. Maarten Student Support Services edi., -) and I know Quincy hosted several events of S4 and just a couple of weeks ago he was in the paper for winning a recognition as poet, but no the government has not gotten into the zwarte piet thing and I am sure that the outcome of an investigation into the treatment meted out will still come,” the prime minister said at Wednesday’s Council of Ministers press briefing.
According to Lake, “This incident once more brings out the double standard in societies where at times you are told that there is freedom of expression but once you express yourself in a certain manner of which they are not in agreement with, suddenly you see the brutality coming out. Thus, freedom of expression is only free when it is the benefit of certain people.”
The author of the book Friendly Anger went on to call the Sinter Klaas and Zwarte Piet ceremony one of the world’s most racist traditions and called for it to be abolished. He also recalled that his father – the late Jose Lake Sr. and Camille Baly – a former educator – “fought a continuous battle to ensure that the Sinterklass and the Zwarte Piet tradition never took footing on St. Maarten.”
“This tradition that is celebrated by the Dutch only creates an inferiority complex especially amongst black people and particularly the black children. This is not a harmless exercise but a deep seated racist exercise where every black child sees a Zwarte Piet feels inferior, downgraded, frustrated and feels in every way inferior. Zwarte Piet and Sinterklass does nothing positive for the society since Sinterklass is the benevolent white father and a good person that brings joy and toys to the children while Zwarte Piet is the black slave that is there to punish children and make them fear. The tradition stinks with racism in every sense of the word,” Lake said.
Later he added, “I am surprised that no one on St. Maarten including the politicians or persons that are considered in high office all remained silent on this issue. When things such as these takes place we have to speak out about it because to say that it does not happen here is inviting it to happen one more time. Those who forget history will always repeat the same mistakes and those who do not have any feeling for people who suffer injustice anywhere in the world is considered an injustice against all of us.”
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As a youngster growing up in Aruba, I was always baffled over why a dark skinned person was chosen to chatized ” the naughty child, disobedient child”. After leaving the island and being educated through literature and the educational system, I too agree that this “Zwarte Piet” thing is a racial outcry to the island and should not be tolerated as part of its culture.