In mid-November in the Netherlands, Dutch families take to the streets of Amsterdam to celebrate the arrival of their favorite winter guests, Sinterklaas and his whimsical helper Black Pete. The air is crisp and cold. Pepernoten, bortsplaat, marzipan, and other sweet holiday fill the pockets of onlookers. When the adored duo comes into town (they sail in on a ship from Spain), they are greeted with a city-wide, family-friendly parade.
However, what is different and potentially shocking to many non-Dutch onlookers is that during the traditional parade, Sinterklaas is escorted by hundreds of white people in blackface. Smiling Dutch folks in blackface bike, walk, and rollerblade through the town, waving at children in celebration.
The Netherlands may be known throughout the world for their quaint wooden shoes and their progressive drug and prostitution laws, but soon they might be known for something else: forced sterilization of women. You read me right, a draft bill currently before the Dutch parliament will, if passed, force women deemed to be "unfit mothers" to take oral contraception for a period of two years.