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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 10 Jul 20


A golliwog is clearly racist, certainly to adult eyes. Not obviously so to a child's eyes, especially in England at a time when black people were still a rarity. Like Mr Red, I didn't even think of golliwogs as representing people, let alone black people - they were toys or characters in books, no more real than the gnomes and fairies also in the books. Even when I first saw a black person, aged about 4, I didn't make the connection. I can picture him now, a dignified gentleman in a homburg hat and overcoat, who maintained his dignity even while I pointed and yelled at my mortified mother to look. He looked nothing like a golliwog. However they are now rightly seen as racist and unacceptable.

For that matter, blacked-up morris dancers don't look like black people either, neither do they look like minstrels or caricatures of black people. They look like morris dancers.

Blacked-up morris (I won't call it "blackface" since that is a loaded term) is not racist. It's problem is that it has the appearance of being racist, and can be misinterpreted as such. We live in a time when offence is too easily taken, when people believe they are entitled to their opinions and shouldn't have to alter them even where they are mistaken, and where giving offence is apparently the greatest sin. In such an environment too many people are deaf to explanations and it is probably pointless to try to persuade them.

Morris probably now has to bow to the inevitable and change with the times. However I regret that it has become necessary since I don't believe we have anything to be ashamed of, and I particularly regret that the decision appears to have been driven by a reaction to a few extremists with no true interest in our traditions.

Nevertheless I think the draft proposal gives rise to a lot of questions and scope for disagreement. If any hint of black is to be banned then that would penalise a lot of sides who have already modified their face paint so it no longer resembles blackface but retains some black elements. The "other skin tones" is incredibly vague and includes ordinary cosmetics. Changing any colours may need changes to other elements of the kit, to remain consistent. Apart from those sides (if there are any) who may still choose to black up, I suspect there may be a number of sides who agree with the principle but won't be happy with the details.


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