PC gone mad again!

PC gone mad again!

June 29th. "Morris dancers barred from school"

"A troupe of morris dancers were prevented from performing at a school, because they blacken their faces!"

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/21/20090629/tuk-morris-dancers-barred-from-school-6323e80.html

I wonder if either the ‘Wren Boys’, down in Dingle,
http://www.dingle-peninsula.ie/wren.html

or the ‘Armagh Rhymers’:
http://www.armaghrhymers.com/

ever blacken their faces?

If so, I wonder if they have ever been barred from anywhere?

So much for schools being places where kids are educated! 🙁

Mind you, the school does have a point I suppose, because some of these guys could scare adults, never mind kids:

http://www.odihamcommunity.org.uk/system/files/images/Morris+Men.thumbnail.jpg

http://www.worldofstock.com/slides/PCU2743.jpg

Incidentally, I remember there was a ‘Banchory Morris Team’, when I lived in Aberdeenshire, but does anyone here know if there is, or has ever been, a Morris team anywhere in Ireland?

Cheers
Dick

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And here I thought this was going to be a computer question….

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Dick, thanks for that link. I’ve printed it and will pass it round at our English session tonight - which usually has a goodly number of morris men playing.

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morris dancing seems to go really well - in England.
Think of it in a range of other places to experience moveable cringe factors. Go well in Iraq eh?

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…India would like it too, wouldn’t they?

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I think there is or used to be a morris side in Dublin or the neighbouring area.

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PC gone mad right enough.
From my understanding it has absolutely nothing to do with black and white minstrels, Gollies or any racist connotations. Simply that in bygone days farm labourers doing Morris at country fairs etc didn’t want to be recognised by their bosses, who most likely would also be attending.

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…so they blackened their faces, making themselves harder to recognise. And the tradition continues to this day, as just that, a tradition.

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I wouldn’t want to be recognised either if I was doing that stuff.

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bit of jiggery pokery there by the look of it to me.

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Danny and others,

This is certainly not ‘PC gone mad’, the use of black-daubed faces has been described as ‘niggering up’ for some time by Border Morris teams.

Apart from the indiscreet use of language, the real issue here is that the Headmistress of a primary school in a multi-ethnic area of Kent felt that the booking of a ‘blacked-up’ team of Morris dancers (she wasn’t aware they did this at the time of the booking) might not be the best way forward for a school which laudably promotes the cultures of all the children in its classes.

By cancelling the booking she was on a hiding to nothing, but I, for one, fully support her reasons for doing so.

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…what, is morris dancing genetic or something?

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I went to my son’s school fete this w/e.

Multi-cultural inner London primary school. There was turkish dancing, indian dancing, breakdancing, irish dancing (drowsie maggie!).

But no morris dancing…

Apparently the BNP are targeting folk clubs to recruit new members…

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There was a Morris side in Dublin circa 1970s/80s, no idea what became of them.

The blacked up faces are a tradition, although I admit the tradition probably did have some racist beginning.

And in 2009 there is no need to have blacked up sides.

So perhaps the teacher was right.

And yes, the BNP are allegedly trying to infiltrate folk clubs.

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The news item reminded me about something I read about the Border Morris revival. Have a look at this:
http://www.johnkirkpatrick.co.uk/mo_ShropshireBedlams.htm
and search on the page for the word "Africans" - its about 15 paragraphs up from the end.

Mr bliss, within the morris tradition the story is that they blacked up so as not to be recognisable to the rest of their community. I think it is explained in one of the articles on that web site.

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I’m one with the original poster.
Yes, it is PC gone mad.

The practice of "blacking-up" for minstrel shows included the caricature of an afro-american face. Whereas the blacking-up for morris is as described.

Incidentally, there is also an interest in the old minstrel-show music, including the playing of old-style banjos, where the skin is more often tacked-on like a bodhran, and the instrument is unfretted. Pete Stanley could tell you a lot about that.

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The headmistress is perfectly in order. Whatever the protestations of the morris men, blacking up carries the connotation of imitating and taking the p*ss out of black people. It’s not about what is buried deep in your morris tradition, it’s about how people perceive you. We’ve moved on from all that Al Jolson/B&W Minstrel stuff, most of us, which was, er, off-colour to say the least, and we feel no pain in not being able to black up. You have to ask yourself what point insistent blacker-uppers are really trying to make.

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For God’s sake, Jeremy, what’s so wrong with p*ss that is perfectly OK with feck?

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I disagree !
"Blacking-up" carries a FALSE connotation.
At the time it was first used in morris-dancing no-one would have understood what you are going on about. It was simply disguise.
It’s no different than, say, a soldier in open country camouflaging his face with mud, or the more sophisticated sort of makeup that they use these days.
WE have to be more sophisticated, post-modernist even.

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Crying out loud. Border Morris is ‘as is’ - it was never a parody of black people.
If the Headteacher had done her homework and asked a ‘Cotswold’ side - and it is a ‘side’ not a ‘troupe’ - she would not have had a problem.
What this does show is the sorry state of ignorance the English have regarding their own customs and traditions and how demeaned and misunderstood they have become.
You would never ask an Indian dancer to forgoe her Henna any more than you would a Sikh his dagger. It is a part of what they do and are.
Modern sensibility it seems has become the preserve of the ignorant self opinionated. If it is unable to distinguish between tradition and parody then what hope for the ‘pure drop’ enthusiasts on this board? Will they be accused of perpetuating the image of the stereotypical ‘Irish musician’ in pursuit of their hobby?
Perhaps all traditions from wherever should be banned as somebody somewhere at sometime will be offended. Pah!

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One of the morris men at my English session this evening explained that the blacking-up is in order to make individuals unrecognisable as such so that the emphasis is purely on the dancing and not on identifiable individuals (compare the whitened faces of Japanese No dancers, perhaps?). Burnt cork is/was the easiest way to do this, rather than the inconvenience of possibly wearing masks. Of course, it isn’t every morris side, by any means, that blacks up - it’s only a few who do so.

Apparently, there is a ladies morris side that "blues" up - they paint their faces blue (shades of Boadicea and the ancient Brits!), but that is obviously a modern innovation.

My opinion, for what it is worth, is in this particular case that late-20th century and 21st century PC ideas are being applied retrospectively and inappropriately to a tradition that is far older and not racist (again, a modern PC concept).

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Carrying on from what John Knoss has just written, perhaps the fiasco at that school could have been prevented if the morris men had been given the chance to explain to the audience the origins and reasons for their costume (and blacking-up in this case). After all, it was a multi-cultural event, and a bit of light-hearted education would have been very much in order.

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Ah ha! Lazyhound there is indeed a side that ‘blues’ up. That would be ‘Woadworks’ then - women dancing ‘the Morris’. It is a well known and held opinion, by some, that women are able to dance Morris dances so long as they don’t call it Morris Dancing. Come come now. Somebody somewhere must have an objection to this. If only for the terrible humour.

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Ooops! Sorry, you shouldn’t make fun of speech impedimentia. And yes I believe in sexual equality.
Damn and blast it; whatever I say is going to be wrong.
"I’m sorry" - walks away muttering and shaking his head. Exit right. NO. exit left Oh sh*t.

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"My opinion, for what it is worth, is in this particular case that late-20th century and 21st century PC ideas are being applied retrospectively and inappropriately to a tradition that is far older and not racist (again, a modern PC concept). "

First of all, you use the pejorative expression "PC" to characterise a point of view at odds with your own. Why can’t you just say you disagree with the headteacher? Now it may surprise some to hear that morris is not very mainstream, and, as such, it is hardly surprising that its nuances are not generally understood by the populace. So, if you appear all blacked up, most people are going to think you are imitating black people, not that you are in disguise. The morris man who expects his audience to work this out correctly for themselves is an arrogant man indeed. We don’t all love morris and it is tangential to our lives and we can’t be held to be at fault for not immediately knowing that blacking up is supposed to be all about disguise. I suggest that it is not the headteacher who is being narrow-minded here, but the morris men who refuse to move with the times. If it’s really just about disguise there are a hundred ways of doing it that doesn’t involve blacking up, so why not just bend a bit and adopt one of ‘em? How about woad blue? I mean, what difference would that really make? But no, "I’m sticking with blacking up because I’m a free-born Englishman in my own country dammit and I’m not having these multicultural PC Johnny-come-latelys tellin’ me what I can or can’t do! And I’m not a racist, but…"

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And there was me thinking this was a computer question. Carry on.

I get where Steve is coming from but lazyhound makes a good point — why not use it as an opportunity to educate the kids (and the teachers!) about the meaning of the make up? Everything is so over regulated and over-protective, fearful of things that *might* happen or what people *might* think, that opportunities to actually learn something new get curbed for no better reason than anxiety over what *might* happen. Safety, security take precedence over pretty much everything else. "Political correctness" is essentially ideological safety and security, albeit totally superficial, since at its extremes it makes its proponents feel better about themselves without the hassle of doing anything or facing actual problems. In a country where the BNP win a couple seats in the European Parliament, I think a troop of Morris Dancers is the last thing teachers in a "multi-cultural environment" should worry about.

Cork black

Here is just such an opportunity. If there are any Morris dancers present give us the cultural significance which the Gravesend schoolchildren will not see or hear.
http://www.myspace.com/motleymorris

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"So, if you appear all blacked up, most people are going to think you are imitating black people, not that you are in disguise"

How much ‘politcal correctness’ is about pandering to peoples ignorance rather than help them see the world the way it is ? Defeatest ? Lazy ?

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You can hardly be described as "ignorant" just because you don’t know that a blacked-up morris dancer isn’t actually imitating a black man. I’d hazard a guess that 99.9% of the non-morris populace don’t know this. You might as well call people ignorant and not seeing the world the way it is because they don’t know the precise chemical formula of aspirin. Perhaps you’d like "Interpretation of Morris Traditions" to be a compulsory subject in the National Curriculum…

Nah. The onus here is fully on the morris men. They have three alternatives. Warn the school clearly of their blacking-up before booking, and if the school still wants ‘em, so be it. Offer to explain it to the kids before the show. Or blue up instead of blacking up. Easy-peasy, and the right thing to do.

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No Steve, the ignorance is in making an incorrect interpretation of the behaviour of a group of people who look different and who you are not familiar with.

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Rubbish. Morris men look different because they choose to dress and make up. They are hardly a persecuted and misunderstood ethnic group, are they. There has been a long tradition in several spheres of the entertainment world, including folk traditions, of white people blacking their faces to make them look like black men. Far from showing ignorance, it would be perfectly understandable that someone seeing a blacked face (unless it’s a film about coal-miners or chimney-sweeps they’re seeing) would interpret it as an imitation of a black man. You could almost say it would be counter-intuitive to see it any other way, at least until it is explained. It is certainly an incorrect interpretation but it is not ignorance. I have no idea why you can’t see it.

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I can see that that headteacher made an understandable mistake and spotted in time that some kids may have been offended if it was not explained to them.

But that is not ‘most people’ and I don’t think a tradition should have to ‘move with the times’ just to make it easier for busy people who don’t have time to explain.

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I thought the point of traditions is that they don’t move with the times.

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"I thought the point of traditions is that they don’t move with the times."

Oh yeah? And what of this tradition of ours that we celebrate on this board? Hardly stood still, has it? Of course traditions evolve. We don’t still all prance naked around goat sacrifices, do we?

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Oh do come to our gathering and help use celebrate our cultural diversity, but could you just, you know, update your tradition a bit please because people may not understand. Must move with the times you know.

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‘We don’t still all prance naked around goat sacrifices, do we? ’

More’s the pity.

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Yeah, true. Not a good example I plucked there. 😀

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So what do you do when you live in an area where there are no black actors and you want to put on shows such as Ragtime - Showboat or even Shakespeare’s Othello?
History is about events and things of the past. It happened….so why should we change it because somebody decides that it offends? Stephen Foster, the American song writer, was sympathetic towards the black americans of his era and his songs reflect that. In 1926 his song My Old Kentucky Home, was even adopted as the Kentucky State song. Sixty years later in 1986 a black member of the Legislature objected to a line in the song that went ‘Tis summer the darkies are gay’ and it was changed to ‘Tis summer the people are gay’. Not exactly what Stevie Boy had in mind when he wrote the lyrics I’m sure. Wing Com Guy Gibson, RAF, of Dambusters fame had a dog called N*gger and it was featured in the movie. Not any more it isn’t. Playing cowboys and native americans hasn’t quite got the same ring to it as cowboys and Indians either. As for the Morris men, I always thought that the word Morris came from the Moors and in the 16th century black people were known as Moors. maybe that’s the connection with the burnt cork. Think I’ll call the Paddy Waggon to take me away………..

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Michael Jackson whitened his face and yet was allowed to perform in many venues.

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More about the Moors if you please. I have only google.*
Do hope one of you dancers might have some traditional or historical background.
Motley’s MySpace says motley refers to their multi-coloured costumes. I wonder if they have considered using the motley theme when applying facepaint.

Fosters’ songs do have more than there might seem to be at first. IMHO

"OH BOYS, CARRY ME ALONG" by Stephen Foster

Farewell to de boys wid hearts so happy and light
Dey sing a song de whole day long
And dance de juba at night.

*Charlamagne vs Moors

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There was a blacked up Morris side, the Belchamp Morris Men, that came up to Scotland to perform at Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop a few years ago - all blackened faces, scruffy outfits, and birds feathers. Very violent the dancing was too, none of your white hanky nonsense.

They said that the history of the dancing went back to when the members would blacken themselves up as a disguise before charging into the town causing mayhem and destruction. It was essentially a disguise for criminals to hide from their bosses, the police and so forth.

http://www.fiddleworkshop.co.uk/gallery_view.php?id=51
http://www.fiddleworkshop.co.uk/gallery_view.php?id=52

There are a few more photos on the website should you wish to see more.

Here is an article from the Independent from back in 1996 on the Morris tradition (including a bit on the Belchamp Side)

http://www.independent.co.uk/extras/entertainment/men-behaving-madly-1349922.html

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After the Moors were driven out of Spain or dominated there by the Christian Spanish in the c15, much of North Africa became a pirate base. Although this was called "The Barbary Coast" (after the Berbers), I assume the remaining Moorish populations were also part of this - Morocco certainly was.

These pirates scourged SW Europe till America and France went in and wiped them in the early 1800s.

I hazard the guess that, if or as they looked for role models in the matter of lords of misrule, early morris men very naturally chose to impersonate these pirates, as universally heard-of figures of alien menace. (Though of course in Central England, e.g., where the pirate danger was not real, they would probably come over as cuddly-scary rather than really scary. Unless they actually *did* want to come over as really scary, for whatever reason…)

That’s why the French got the gig of occupying Algeria. I’d always wondered why anyone would want to.

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Random - ask Google about "Morris Moorish" and you will get various versions of the story given by No Cause. There is a break in the history and if they did originate as some sort of medieval minstrel show that was forgotten by the dancers so that by the 1800s they were blacking up for disguise. As was done by real rioters in the same period as in that link about the Rebecca Riots that I posted above.

Morris=Moorish is a reasonable theory
Mischief makers blacked for diguise is fact.

Ever sat around a table outside a pub with a bunch of guys all blacked up ? Did it a few times way back as a non-blacked morris dancer. It is disconcerting not being sure of their expression or even if they are someone you know.

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If the BNP recruited in folk clubs, even if they got a following it would be aged about 104 on average and its state of fitness after drinking keg beer for 30 years and real ale for 190 would make Dad’s Army look like the SAS in comparison; not to mention being stone deaf through trying to sing like Ewan MacColl since 1300.

I haven’t been to a folk club this century, but went to them for decades and know for a fact that all these stereotypes are true.

Fascists really are incapable.

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Mr bliss, within the morris tradition the story is that they blacked up so as not to be recognisable to the rest of their community. I think it is explained in one of the articles on that web site.

# Posted on June 30th 2009 by david_h


Our fool used to "Black Up" complete with Top Hat with the logo "King Coffee" which was a misspelling of a Zulu Chief, and a reference to some long forgotten battle in darkest Africa.

When I became fool, I ended the practice.

Mind you, many Morris sides still have a ban on women.

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"When I became fool, I ended the practice "
But you went along with it up until then ?

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"Ever sat around a table outside a pub with a bunch of guys all blacked up ? Did it a few times way back as a non-blacked morris dancer. It is disconcerting not being sure of their expression or even if they are someone you know."

Yeah, like I said. "All these black people look the same to me…that’s what’s so scary about ‘em…"

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From what I gather the blackened face may or may not be significant.
Also, Motley Morris was offered to perform without the black makeup.
They are definitely receiving adequate press coverage after refusing.
& a group called *stormfront* is adding to the hype.

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*

may or may not be significant to the tradition.

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"Mind you, many Morris sides still have a ban on women."

Hmmmmm Bliss ……

I Bet that makes them proud, to be able to share something with the KKK & the Orange Order! 😀

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I think I understood the Bliss’s use of irony.
Steve - my post originally continued "completely different from real black guys" but I deleted it to reduce the chance of that response.

One of the irritating things about political correctness is that it makes hard to talk about interesting phenomena of perception such as people of one locally characterstic facial type (its not just skin colour) being better at distinguishing individuals in there own group than within other groups. Not surprising really. Unfortunatly it can feed xenophobia.

Which is why the face paint, of whatever colour, works as a disguise. Giving the skin a different texture helps too. And why it can be hard to recognise that a blacked-up morris side is mixed (there is at least one) without looking for other anatomical indicators.

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I agree with Floss and Steve Shaw. If morris dancing can accommodate women dancers then certainly it should be able to avoid creating the perception of racism by not wearing black-face. Is black-face really a significant part of the tradition? Is it worth risking hurt feelings to continue this tradition?
Why are those who are so boastful of the tradition of black-face in morris dancing so willing to accept women in their midst? To many people in other parts of the world it just seems like more British chauvinism.

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There’s a long thread on Mudcat about this - a lot of heat but a little light as well. It turns out that the morris side was not "banned," but that negotiations with the school over the proposed blacking-up came to nought.

What I would like to negotiate away is the term "political correctness," and I’m particularly suspicious of anyone who extends it into "political correctness gone mad." It’s just a lazy way of casting aspersions in an argument without really making any valid point.

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This is very strange. I saw the Morris dancers with black faces at Sweep in Rochester. Their blackened faces looked more like those of sooty (can I write ‘sooty’?) chimney sweeps than those of black people. Maybe if they’d had a proper explanation to give.
Some of those dancers also whack great sticks at each other, is it not time to report them to the Health and Safety Executive?

I agree with Steve Shaw, political correctness has become a lazy term of abuse. It is, and remains an act of consideration between different groups. Instead it has become an umbrella term for anything issuing from institutions that we disagree with.

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I think [the behaviour often described as] political correctness is often a lazy way of coping with a problem without addressing the real issues involved. Because we do something this way either the problem has gone away or we get a reminder of it every time, say, some awkward term is used. Window dressing or an uncomfortable dig but no progress.

Yes Cath, "consideration between different groups". And we don’t have to draw that line between inherent features (e.g. race, gender) and behaviour.

If the BNP really are infiltrating folk clubs (seems an unlikely recruiting ground but watch out for em and waste there time or educate them) it will be those people mock, make jokes about or laugh at jokes about other groups with shared behavior they would target. Doesn’t happen here ? Oh no ? Lets look back shall we, now when were the last jokes about players of particular musical instruments (I mean like orchestral viola players, not bodhrans) quite a way back . What have we closer ? Oh yes, just a few threads back we have morris dancers.

Slagging individuals can upset them. Slagging categories of people you don’t know is beyond the thin end of the wedge.

(and yes Cath, sooty, that what I meant by different texture)

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Political correctness is about pandering to people’s predudices in the name of fighting predudice. Nuff said.

Morris Dancers Facepaint

What if the talks between the school & the group had resulted in a different outcome. The group could still apply black cork on one members’ face, satisfying some of that tradition. The other members would also use facepaint ~ motley … many coloured ~ blue, purple, green, mustard, as many coloursas there are members. Keep a disguise, keep a face of black, still dance a traditional dance at the school. It didn’t happen. Just imagining.

Thanks Steve. I have been reading the mudcats discussion, as well a few other sites.

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*

imho it is possible to pay tribute to tradition yet be able to improvize.

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It’s been bothering me the last couple of days, this debate, about whether ‘blacking up’ is racist, offensive or whatever.
What has come to my mind however is the word Bowdlerisation.
The gutting and emasculation of written material. In my opinion in time, not this week not this month or even year, we will come to see that this can be applied by those who speak loud enough and often enough to sway ‘the majority’ until the truth is embarrased into hiding. Historians, archeologists, paleontologists and the like spend huge amounts of effort in researching the ‘truth’ of their chosen field and here we are obscuring it because it makes us uncomfortable. Because we are unable to see past our own bias and prejudices. Because we are unable to face our own demons and lack the courage to deal with real injustices and cruelty.
We should be ashamed of ourselves.

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Or they could perform with blackened faces in a couple of places here in the States. Right here in the Pacific Northwest there’s some areas around South Seattle, Tacoma. I know of a few around Chicago were their act would go over with a bang. And there would be cost-savings. They’d only need a ticket out…

DM gone mad?

Not so long ago, Dick you had us listen to Rennie Fair music.
Now we’re expected to commiserate with performers whining, "Oh, how can I do my dance if I cannot wear my makeup?"
Motley Cry Babies more like it.
Just kidding, I know how important it is what we wear to session. Tradition & all, you don’t want all of a sudden go changing things. ;)
Cheers Ptarm!

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Just a few quick questions, for ptarmi, dick, td harry, et. al : are ethnic people foolish to feel offended at the sight of white people in black-face? Do we understand why they might feel offended? Should community leaders support the community values of those who feel offended?
Should Jews feel offended by large-nosed caricatures, or are they over-reacting?

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cocus, the only person who has used the term ‘in black-face’ during this discussion is you. It is a term associated with minstrel shows and no-one above has suggested that we are not well rid of that aberation.

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From:
http://www.wilmslowexpress.co.uk/community/nostalgia/s/530768_masco_drivers_in_1957

"AN ASIAN community group delivered a slap in the face to Granada TV’s political correctness by asking the Britannia Coconutters to perform at their annual arts and dance festival. Blackburn’s Audley People’s Festival said they did not see a problem with the Coconutters blacking their faces. Granada had refused to film the dancers the previous month unless they performed without the traditional face-blacking."

Blackburn, near Bacup, has had some of the worst race-relations in the UK.

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Cocus, My point is that political correctness and politically correct people and systems assume that people will be offended, whether or not anyone is and whether or not there is something to be offended about. This is an act of predudice.

I truly believe that genuine predice/slurring etc. is an ugly canker, However, when people perceive offence where none is offered, because they can’t tell the difference or can’t be bothered to find out the truth I think that is as big, if not bigger, an insult as the falsely perceived insult they are discriminating against.
Whew.

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Approximately twelve to fifteen years ago, I was playing some of Scott Joplin’s ragtime piano pieces for an audience of hundreds of people at an annual outdoor music festival at a local park. One of the Joplin’s piano rags is a piece titled "Wall Street Rag" which Joplin wrote after he had moved to New York City. After observing the strange behavior of the denizens of Wall Street (especially the stockbrokers who seem to be the most bizarre inhabitants of Wall Street), Joplin wrote Wall Street Rag.
Each of the four sections of this Rag has its own title which you are supposed to announce to the audience before you play it. In the first section, the stockbrokers are melancholy because the market is down; in the second section, good times are supposed to be coming; in the third section, the good times have come; and in the fourth and last section, "Listening to the sounds of genuine Negro ragtime, the stockbrokers forget their cares" (to quote Joplin’s exact words).
Everything was fine until I read out the title for the fourth and last section. I heard some type of reaction from the audience while I was playing the fourth and last section of Wall Street Rag. I guess I should consider myself lucky that nobody threw anything at me. Since this was the last piece I was planning to play, I thanked the audience and left the stage as soon as I was finished so the next act could take the stage and perform.
I haven’t been asked to perform at this annual music festival since then.

~ again ~

So why does an artist assume people will interpret their tradition the same as they do?

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Point nicely made tone dumb harry; has anybody here bothered to ask any ‘black’ people about this particular story?
Well as it happens while at work today I did. Now I can’t and won’t say that the sample of people I asked is representative but the reaction was almost uniform - they thought the idea was ludicrous (well actually they just laughed) that ‘blacking’ up should be banned. Contrary to some opinions expressed here they all knew what Morris dancers were and what they did. To quote one young lady of Carribean origin "It’s traditional ain’t it"? "Why should I be offended"?
As I said in an earlier post there is always somebody who is going to be offended by something although for the life of me at the moment I can’t seem to find anybody who is offended by Morris Dancers’ make-up apart from those who seem to be willing to act as the public concience.

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Somewhat belatedly noticing this thread.


Female circumcision, self-immolation of spouses of the deceased (somehow never husbands), sectarian p-arades through town centres and communities (usually stopping for a big drum solo outside of disliked churches) etc etc.

All the above are *traditional*. So that’s ok then. Or is its?

I’m not putting blacking up for Morris on a par with any of the above traditions, rather I’m skewering the cop out idea that all traditional MUST be good by the simple fact of being traditional. Simply claiming something is "traditional" is not enough to make it acceptable.

As for the particular case at hand: has it been suggested that the Morris side in question should be banned from blacking up at their own events?

No, it hasn’t.

What has happened is that the Morris side have been asked not to black up if they want to perform at a primary school event.

This isn’t quite the same thing as imposing restrictions on an event run and organised by the Morris community, and to me this appears perfectly reasonable.

Regardless of the origins of "blacking up", if you don’t think there would be a possibility of playground taunts and bullying in the wake of such a performance at school, then you had a rather sheltered childhood. It is absolutely reasonable to ask the Morris side to adapt their costume to the requirements of the host primary school.

It is not necessarily the schools place to spend (waste?) classroom time going into the history of "blacking up" by Morris sides and why this differes in intent from "black face" minstrel entertainemnets of yester year.

If the Minstrel side see being asked to not blacken up as too big a price to pay for showcasing their hobby to a school fo primary children, then that’s their decision. Seems a bit precious to me though. I imagine many of us would/do modify their behavior in front of children.

Final observation, if the tradition is primarily one of disguise rather than of blacking up per se, why not emphasise the disguise aspect? At least for the primary school performance. Wear a range of face paint colours, including black.

Final final observation: "PC gone mad". I agree with those that identified this as an easy slogan against an easy target. beloved of the same press that shouts about Loony Lefty councils etc. Why do we never hear about e.g. Loony Righty Authorities launching dawn raids on immigrant families discussed in the same terms? Perhaps because that doesn’t fit the agenda of the likes of the Daily Mail.

- chris