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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Howard Jones Calling time on Blackface Morris (247* d) RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris 05 Jul 20

The obvious difference is that "Black Piet" is intended to represent a black person, a blacked-up morris dancer isn't.

I realise this is a battle which has probably been lost, but I am disappointed that the morris movement has surrendered to the far right over this. I was also disappointed when EFDSS caved in, but as they are now dependent on Arts Council money that was to be expected.

In the Guardian article which followed David Cameron being photographed with a morris side in 2014 the writer Lola Okolosie said she was aware of the complex history of morris sides blacking up, but went on to equate it with minstrelsy and golliwogs. This resulted in a comment from a reader which said,

"I am black and very proud of it but in this case I'm not offended in the least by the Morris dancers. Why? Because I understand the history behind them and it has got bugger all to do with black people or portraying them in a certain light.

This tradition came about when most people in England had not even seen a black person. So why spend time looking for racist connotations where there are none?"

It is not racist to wish to preserve our traditions, and neither should it be seen as right-wing to want to do so. It is true that Border and Molly are both largely modern reconstructions, but blacking-up is one of the few authentic elements of them.

I understand the wish to avoid giving offence. However where offence is taken because of a misunderstanding the answer is to explain and educate, not surrender. If sides choose to use different colours, for any reason, that is of course up to them. However there is an element of bullying and group-think in this latest decision which I find objectionable.

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