2013: It’s Time To Talk About Mummers in Blackface

From the outside looking in, you’d think every Philadelphian was a proud supporter of the glittered and feathered pageant known as the New Year’s Day Mummer’s Parade. But you’d be wrong.

Mummers in blackface has a complicated history in a racially complicated city within a racially complicated country. That said, today’s parade makes it quite simple: it’s time to have a serious conversation about mummery and the way participants choose to represent other ethnicities and races without hiding behind the cop-out of “But it’s tradition!”

Read the full story on Storify here.

4 Responses to “ 2013: It’s Time To Talk About Mummers in Blackface ”

  1. Rebecca Savastio says:

    I suggest some basic fact-checking. No blackface was worn in the parade. It’s been banned since 1964. Also, Ferko was doing a tribute to Al Jolson. Perhaps if you read up on some history about him you would be less offended. The problem with the internet is that people say things on Twitter which are then taken as fact, when they are actually fabricated statements based on nothing.

  2. stalkin says:

    I was on 2st last night. Had an exchange with a wench in black face. He said “you can’t see me unless I smile.” I said happy new year. banned or not, it’s still happening. In other news, the mostly white crowd of mummers and spectators was dancing and loving the all black Royal Brass band. The trend is good, and the guy in black face was 50ish.

  3. Kim says:

    I was at the parade, so no fact checking necessary on this end. If you observed the face paint of the band it was blackface just with red paint, the musical notes were full blackface, and the giant heads that were being carried were blackface with the skin color changed. Anyone with knowledge of that history knows the images; making slight alterations and calling it a celebration of jazz is ridiculous. It’s understanadable that music and performance from that time period is attractive to stringband performers but there are better ways to pay homage to Scott Joplin and others than “Bringing Back Those Old Minstrial Days” and corking up. Unfortunately racism plays out in all kinds of ways. A note to those that charges of racism make uncomfortable, instead of getting defensive when you disagree or don’t understand what people are upset about how about you challenge yourself to see if maybe there’s something to what is being said. That said, it’s pretty appalling that people don’t see it when it’s strutting down the street in sequins, feathers, and blackface epaulettes, carrying signs and singing Mammy and people still don’t see it. If you can’t recognize it then, when will you recognize it.

  4. Parade Watcher says:

    Music inspired by Scott Joplin, Music written by Stephen Foster, Dancing inspired by Bill Bojangles Robinson, Music written by Gershwin, Music sung by Jolson – who was a champion of Black Entertainers- Singing and dancing… NO BLACKFACE at all… No big white Lips … Big White Clown Like smiles – Yes…,, Bad taste? Maybe … “Off Color”? Maybe ….Bad CHoice? Maybe…. Etc. …. Racist ABSOLUTELY NOT ….

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