This article originally appeared on Noisey Canada.
Off the top, racism is awful. It is very not okay! It's destructive, isolating, and, quite frankly, one of the dumbest things you could ever focus your energy on. Having said that, let's talk about how in Dutch and Belgian cultures, there is still a peculiarly relevant, completely racist holiday tradition of white people dressing up in blackface, which is called Black Pete. At Christmas time, Black Pete, dressed like a court jester, is the "helpful" aid to Sinterklaas, somewhat of a Santa Claus figure. It's terrible and yet every Christmas season white people in these countries dress up as Black Pete, thinking this practice is very normal because of the culture.
Now, rewind back to the 90s, and look at Mel B, an actual black woman, having to listen to a European host from this unearthed interview footage as he brings out multiple Black Petes onstage. True to Spice Girls form, none of them are having it with this shit, and make that fact very well known. In choral unison, the group protest them coming out onstage, yelling "no! No! We don't want that!" Yet this host, in a stunningly awful bronzed crushed velvet dress shirt, brings them out. Mel B, aka Scary Spice, replies, rather nicely in our opinion, that she thinks they "shouldn't paint their faces but get proper black people to do" this, repeating over and over that they shouldn't black their faces. For some reason, this host, with a receding hairline and bald spot as wide as my balcony, thinks talking over her and saying "but it's tradition! It's culture!" will soothe Scary Spice. Nah.
Mel B has to assume the position of educating a white man, rather politely when he is doing nothing but condescending her and placating her legitimate concerns of white people dressed up as black people, saying "it's the 90s!", which means, duh, why are you doing this?
Watch the clip below:
Sarah MacDonald is a staff writer at Noisey Canada. Follow her on Twitter.