When I lived in Holland I had a rude awakening around Christmas time when the Dutch celebrate their Christmas. There they have "Sinterklaas" instead of "Santa". And they also have, "Zwarte Piet" instead of Elves. "Zwarte" in dutch means "Black", I preface this by saying that the Dutch people are the coolest in the world to people of color, Africans included (that's a whole other story). But Zwarte Piet is often a point of contention. Personally there is a difference...many sensitive dutch understand this as well. You didn't hear anyone have ANY problems with C. Thomas Howell of "Soul Man" fame. This is because he did not make a mockery of our skin tone by putting black shoe polish. At least trey and get the tone and color right if you want to imitate someone of color. You don't see Asian imitators put yellow paint on their face or Indians with Red skin. Now wiki Sinterklaas, and take a look at the Zwarte Piet picture, it's not offensive at all, he actually is looking cool as hell, a slightly "jailhousish" pose but still fly.
"Their black skin may refer either to their Moorish background, or to the job of chimneysweep, an option is corroborated by their clothes, reminiscent of an Italian chimneysweep's costume and Pete's rooftop occupation. Another background story for Pete is that he is the devil who was enslaved by Sinterklaas. Nowadays, children in the Netherlands are told that the Pieten work for Sinterklaas voluntarily and that there is a special school in Spain where they learn their trade."
"Some of the older Sinterklaas songs make mention of naughty children being put in the bag and being taken back to Spain. The Zwarte Pieten toss candy around, a tradition supposedly originating in Sint Nicolaas' story of saving three young girls from prostitution by tossing golden coins through their window at night to pay their father's debts."