Ahold Delhaize-owned Bol.com has pledged to ban the term 'Zwarte Piet' from its online shopping service, describing it as a 'hurtful term', according to reports.
According to folklore Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) is a Moorish character who assists Sinterklass – the Dutch and Belgian equivalent of Santa Claus – in distributing presents to children in early December.
However, the character has been linked with racist stereotypes, with many donning blackface and curly wigs in tribute as the Sinterklass holiday approaches.
According to the Brussels Times, Bol.com is to ban the use of 'Zwarte Piet' from its platforms, shortening this instead to 'Piet', and forcing its sales partners to remove Zwarte Piet sales products from their shelves.
'Based on the feedback we recently received, we concluded that ‘Black Pete’ can be experienced as a hurtful term,' the retailer was quoted as saying. 'Last year, we also decided to remove product images that showed people wearing blackface.'
Bol.com added that it did not want to be associated with a range that 'incites discrimination or hatred', according to the paper.
Elsewhere, Facebook and Instagram have also announced that 'Zwarte Piet' will be banned from its platforms.
'We looked at different perspectives and spoke to more than 60 organisations and experts from around the world, including human rights specialists and activists,' Facebook said in a statement last week, which was reported by De Morgen.
© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.