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Eve Noire and Black Piet

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I saw a picture of a book cover online, I googled the title and the editor/photographers name; Eve Noire, Bertrand Lembezat, found a copy in an online bookstore and ordered it. It arrived a week ago.

After it unpacked it, I re-packed it again. Although the pictures are beautiful, I felt ashamed: the book is a collection of young nude women.

The book was published in 1952, a time – I presume – when racism was not discussed a lot. I guess Mr. Lembezat was convinced that his intentions were good, he tries to explain himself in the book. His words are difficult to relate to from a contemporary perspective but I understand that in the early fifties the variety of views on the world were limited. It was all white.

Just now on my Facebook timeline I see fresh pictures made in my country today and yesterday of a racist character called ‘Black Piet’. I do not understand that.

Today we have all means to discuss and to study history, to inform ourselves and to listen to different viewpoints. Even thought many Dutch, like me, had no idea about racism when Black Piet came into our lives, we know now that the character has a troubled past. Why do we hang on to something hurtful when we can simply change it for the better?
Black Piet has no place in our community today.

The book Eve Noire is also racist but I keep it as a reminder of times when people had the luxury to be naive about life in far away countries. There is no such excuse today.

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