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Motley Morris banned !

GUEST,SallyM 29 Jun 09 - 07:49 AM
The Villan 29 Jun 09 - 08:06 AM
Richard Bridge 29 Jun 09 - 08:09 AM
GUEST,Neovo 29 Jun 09 - 08:17 AM
Gedi 29 Jun 09 - 08:24 AM
The Villan 29 Jun 09 - 08:40 AM
The Villan 29 Jun 09 - 08:56 AM
banjoman 29 Jun 09 - 09:06 AM
Bernard 29 Jun 09 - 09:07 AM
Royston 29 Jun 09 - 09:07 AM
Leadfingers 29 Jun 09 - 09:20 AM
The Villan 29 Jun 09 - 09:26 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 29 Jun 09 - 09:26 AM
Richard Bridge 29 Jun 09 - 09:26 AM
The Villan 29 Jun 09 - 09:35 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 29 Jun 09 - 09:46 AM
The Villan 29 Jun 09 - 10:14 AM
Les in Chorlton 29 Jun 09 - 10:19 AM
Marje 29 Jun 09 - 10:32 AM
Les in Chorlton 29 Jun 09 - 10:34 AM
RB3 29 Jun 09 - 10:41 AM
Fidjit 29 Jun 09 - 10:43 AM
Les in Chorlton 29 Jun 09 - 10:46 AM
romany man 29 Jun 09 - 10:48 AM
manitas_at_work 29 Jun 09 - 10:55 AM
Les in Chorlton 29 Jun 09 - 10:58 AM
The Villan 29 Jun 09 - 10:59 AM
Richard Bridge 29 Jun 09 - 11:00 AM
The Villan 29 Jun 09 - 11:02 AM
manitas_at_work 29 Jun 09 - 11:05 AM
Royston 29 Jun 09 - 11:16 AM
Rifleman (inactive) 29 Jun 09 - 11:17 AM
The Villan 29 Jun 09 - 11:26 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 29 Jun 09 - 11:33 AM
The Villan 29 Jun 09 - 11:33 AM
Dead Horse 29 Jun 09 - 11:35 AM
Les in Chorlton 29 Jun 09 - 11:40 AM
Gervase 29 Jun 09 - 11:41 AM
The Borchester Echo 29 Jun 09 - 11:44 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 29 Jun 09 - 11:54 AM
Royston 29 Jun 09 - 12:02 PM
Royston 29 Jun 09 - 12:11 PM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 29 Jun 09 - 12:15 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 29 Jun 09 - 12:15 PM
Royston 29 Jun 09 - 12:27 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 29 Jun 09 - 12:59 PM
Banjiman 29 Jun 09 - 01:07 PM
The Villan 29 Jun 09 - 01:18 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 29 Jun 09 - 01:21 PM
GUEST,baz parkes 29 Jun 09 - 01:27 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 29 Jun 09 - 01:28 PM
Richard Bridge 29 Jun 09 - 01:29 PM
Royston 29 Jun 09 - 01:29 PM
Banjiman 29 Jun 09 - 01:33 PM
The Borchester Echo 29 Jun 09 - 01:34 PM
Spleen Cringe 29 Jun 09 - 01:36 PM
Spleen Cringe 29 Jun 09 - 01:37 PM
The Villan 29 Jun 09 - 01:38 PM
Banjiman 29 Jun 09 - 01:50 PM
Royston 29 Jun 09 - 01:53 PM
Ruth Archer 29 Jun 09 - 02:16 PM
The Villan 29 Jun 09 - 02:19 PM
VirginiaTam 29 Jun 09 - 02:20 PM
Ruth Archer 29 Jun 09 - 02:26 PM
Dead Horse 29 Jun 09 - 02:56 PM
Les in Chorlton 29 Jun 09 - 02:57 PM
VirginiaTam 29 Jun 09 - 03:02 PM
The Barden of England 29 Jun 09 - 03:17 PM
Banjiman 29 Jun 09 - 03:23 PM
Royston 29 Jun 09 - 03:25 PM
Royston 29 Jun 09 - 03:29 PM
Les in Chorlton 29 Jun 09 - 03:35 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 29 Jun 09 - 03:42 PM
Royston 29 Jun 09 - 03:47 PM
Richard Bridge 29 Jun 09 - 04:31 PM
Ruth Archer 29 Jun 09 - 04:36 PM
Royston 29 Jun 09 - 04:49 PM
VirginiaTam 29 Jun 09 - 04:57 PM
Smokey. 29 Jun 09 - 05:06 PM
GUEST,HelenJ 29 Jun 09 - 05:07 PM
Ruth Archer 29 Jun 09 - 05:07 PM
Richard Bridge 29 Jun 09 - 05:14 PM
The Barden of England 29 Jun 09 - 05:19 PM
Ruth Archer 29 Jun 09 - 05:30 PM
Richard Bridge 29 Jun 09 - 05:36 PM
Gedi 29 Jun 09 - 05:40 PM
The Borchester Echo 29 Jun 09 - 05:41 PM
Ruth Archer 29 Jun 09 - 05:42 PM
Richard Bridge 29 Jun 09 - 05:52 PM
Vic Smith 29 Jun 09 - 05:56 PM
Ruth Archer 29 Jun 09 - 06:08 PM
Kev The Clogs 29 Jun 09 - 06:10 PM
The Borchester Echo 29 Jun 09 - 07:47 PM
The Borchester Echo 29 Jun 09 - 07:48 PM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 29 Jun 09 - 07:49 PM
melodeonboy 29 Jun 09 - 07:52 PM
The Borchester Echo 29 Jun 09 - 07:55 PM
Joybell 29 Jun 09 - 08:06 PM
Soldier boy 29 Jun 09 - 10:07 PM
Gervase 30 Jun 09 - 02:27 AM
VirginiaTam 30 Jun 09 - 02:33 AM
Royston 30 Jun 09 - 02:55 AM
Phil Edwards 30 Jun 09 - 03:13 AM
Les in Chorlton 30 Jun 09 - 03:15 AM
Les in Chorlton 30 Jun 09 - 03:17 AM
Les in Chorlton 30 Jun 09 - 03:17 AM
GUEST,Woody 30 Jun 09 - 03:27 AM
Les in Chorlton 30 Jun 09 - 03:34 AM
Richard Bridge 30 Jun 09 - 03:39 AM
Richard Bridge 30 Jun 09 - 03:45 AM
Royston 30 Jun 09 - 03:45 AM
Morris-ey 30 Jun 09 - 04:23 AM
GUEST,EricTheOrange 30 Jun 09 - 04:26 AM
Richard Bridge 30 Jun 09 - 04:47 AM
GUEST 30 Jun 09 - 05:12 AM
GUEST,EricTheOrange 30 Jun 09 - 05:13 AM
Royston 30 Jun 09 - 05:15 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 30 Jun 09 - 05:16 AM
GUEST,EricTheOrange 30 Jun 09 - 05:19 AM
Ruth Archer 30 Jun 09 - 05:25 AM
Royston 30 Jun 09 - 05:26 AM
Phil Edwards 30 Jun 09 - 05:27 AM
Morris-ey 30 Jun 09 - 05:31 AM
Morris-ey 30 Jun 09 - 05:32 AM
Richard Bridge 30 Jun 09 - 05:34 AM
Banjiman 30 Jun 09 - 05:39 AM
Ruth Archer 30 Jun 09 - 06:04 AM
Azizi 30 Jun 09 - 06:23 AM
The Borchester Echo 30 Jun 09 - 06:41 AM
Banjiman 30 Jun 09 - 06:43 AM
Dave the Gnome 30 Jun 09 - 06:55 AM
GUEST,Thomas Slye 30 Jun 09 - 07:06 AM
Richard Bridge 30 Jun 09 - 07:19 AM
Royston 30 Jun 09 - 07:55 AM
Gervase 30 Jun 09 - 08:03 AM
Ruth Archer 30 Jun 09 - 08:11 AM
GUEST,EricTheOrange 30 Jun 09 - 08:12 AM
GUEST,Dazbo at work 30 Jun 09 - 08:21 AM
The Villan 30 Jun 09 - 08:22 AM
Azizi 30 Jun 09 - 08:27 AM
Richard Bridge 30 Jun 09 - 08:29 AM
Banjiman 30 Jun 09 - 08:32 AM
Banjiman 30 Jun 09 - 08:39 AM
Gervase 30 Jun 09 - 08:44 AM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 30 Jun 09 - 08:48 AM
Ruth Archer 30 Jun 09 - 09:00 AM
GUEST,baz parkes 30 Jun 09 - 09:00 AM
The Borchester Echo 30 Jun 09 - 09:05 AM
The Barden of England 30 Jun 09 - 09:06 AM
Gervase 30 Jun 09 - 09:11 AM
Morris-ey 30 Jun 09 - 09:13 AM
The Villan 30 Jun 09 - 09:15 AM
Richard Bridge 30 Jun 09 - 09:16 AM
Gervase 30 Jun 09 - 09:17 AM
Gervase 30 Jun 09 - 09:24 AM
Morris-ey 30 Jun 09 - 09:27 AM
Ruth Archer 30 Jun 09 - 09:28 AM
The Villan 30 Jun 09 - 09:38 AM
Vic Smith 30 Jun 09 - 09:39 AM
Gervase 30 Jun 09 - 09:44 AM
Phil Edwards 30 Jun 09 - 09:47 AM
Banjiman 30 Jun 09 - 09:51 AM
GUEST,Thomas Slye 30 Jun 09 - 10:12 AM
Gervase 30 Jun 09 - 10:18 AM
GUEST,Thomas Slye 30 Jun 09 - 10:21 AM
Richard Bridge 30 Jun 09 - 11:13 AM
GUEST,Rick H 30 Jun 09 - 11:45 AM
Les in Chorlton 30 Jun 09 - 12:33 PM
Spleen Cringe 30 Jun 09 - 12:40 PM
Richard Bridge 30 Jun 09 - 12:53 PM
Ruth Archer 30 Jun 09 - 01:01 PM
Marje 30 Jun 09 - 01:13 PM
Royston 30 Jun 09 - 01:17 PM
Phil Edwards 30 Jun 09 - 01:39 PM
The Borchester Echo 30 Jun 09 - 02:03 PM
Richard Bridge 30 Jun 09 - 02:16 PM
VirginiaTam 30 Jun 09 - 02:44 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 30 Jun 09 - 02:56 PM
Bonzo3legs 30 Jun 09 - 05:14 PM
melodeonboy 30 Jun 09 - 05:40 PM
The Sandman 30 Jun 09 - 05:53 PM
Ruth Archer 30 Jun 09 - 06:08 PM
Steve Shaw 30 Jun 09 - 06:40 PM
McGrath of Harlow 30 Jun 09 - 06:58 PM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 30 Jun 09 - 08:44 PM
Smokey. 30 Jun 09 - 09:00 PM
Richard Bridge 30 Jun 09 - 09:53 PM
GUEST,Dazbo at work 01 Jul 09 - 03:08 AM
Royston 01 Jul 09 - 03:12 AM
Phil Edwards 01 Jul 09 - 03:26 AM
Morris-ey 01 Jul 09 - 03:29 AM
GUEST,EricTheOrange 01 Jul 09 - 03:31 AM
Banjiman 01 Jul 09 - 03:42 AM
Ruth Archer 01 Jul 09 - 03:46 AM
Gervase 01 Jul 09 - 03:49 AM
Richard Bridge 01 Jul 09 - 04:26 AM
Ruth Archer 01 Jul 09 - 04:35 AM
Phil Edwards 01 Jul 09 - 04:49 AM
Gervase 01 Jul 09 - 04:50 AM
Gervase 01 Jul 09 - 04:51 AM
GUEST,baz parkes 01 Jul 09 - 05:07 AM
TheSnail 01 Jul 09 - 06:02 AM
GUEST,DizzyLisa Motley Muso 01 Jul 09 - 06:11 AM
The Villan 01 Jul 09 - 06:19 AM
Royston 01 Jul 09 - 06:24 AM
Richard Bridge 01 Jul 09 - 06:52 AM
The Sandman 01 Jul 09 - 07:41 AM
Phil Edwards 01 Jul 09 - 07:44 AM
GUEST,DizzyLisa Motley Muso 01 Jul 09 - 07:47 AM
Bloke from Poole 01 Jul 09 - 07:56 AM
The Villan 01 Jul 09 - 07:59 AM
greg stephens 01 Jul 09 - 08:08 AM
The Sandman 01 Jul 09 - 08:08 AM
Ruth Archer 01 Jul 09 - 08:12 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 01 Jul 09 - 08:12 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 01 Jul 09 - 08:21 AM
GUEST,HelenJ 01 Jul 09 - 08:21 AM
Ruth Archer 01 Jul 09 - 08:22 AM
The Villan 01 Jul 09 - 08:29 AM
The Borchester Echo 01 Jul 09 - 08:35 AM
Gervase 01 Jul 09 - 08:38 AM
The Borchester Echo 01 Jul 09 - 08:38 AM
Ruth Archer 01 Jul 09 - 08:42 AM
The Villan 01 Jul 09 - 08:55 AM
Banjiman 01 Jul 09 - 09:00 AM
Ruth Archer 01 Jul 09 - 09:12 AM
Dave the Gnome 01 Jul 09 - 09:15 AM
The Villan 01 Jul 09 - 09:22 AM
Banjiman 01 Jul 09 - 09:25 AM
Ruth Archer 01 Jul 09 - 09:34 AM
The Borchester Echo 01 Jul 09 - 09:45 AM
The Villan 01 Jul 09 - 09:48 AM
The Villan 01 Jul 09 - 09:49 AM
The Sandman 01 Jul 09 - 09:54 AM
Gervase 01 Jul 09 - 10:01 AM
The Villan 01 Jul 09 - 10:02 AM
Banjiman 01 Jul 09 - 10:02 AM
Gervase 01 Jul 09 - 10:05 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 01 Jul 09 - 10:13 AM
The Villan 01 Jul 09 - 10:15 AM
Banjiman 01 Jul 09 - 10:21 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 01 Jul 09 - 10:21 AM
Phil Edwards 01 Jul 09 - 10:24 AM
The Villan 01 Jul 09 - 11:06 AM
Morris-ey 01 Jul 09 - 11:20 AM
Phil Edwards 01 Jul 09 - 11:23 AM
Banjiman 01 Jul 09 - 11:23 AM
The Villan 01 Jul 09 - 11:38 AM
The Villan 01 Jul 09 - 11:43 AM
The Borchester Echo 01 Jul 09 - 11:50 AM
GUEST,baz parkes 01 Jul 09 - 12:01 PM
Penny S. 01 Jul 09 - 12:09 PM
Gervase 01 Jul 09 - 12:22 PM
Les in Chorlton 01 Jul 09 - 12:33 PM
Royston 01 Jul 09 - 12:33 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Jul 09 - 01:00 PM
Phil Edwards 01 Jul 09 - 01:43 PM
Les in Chorlton 01 Jul 09 - 01:54 PM
Gervase 01 Jul 09 - 02:50 PM
Phil Edwards 01 Jul 09 - 03:13 PM
fairplay 01 Jul 09 - 04:27 PM
Gervase 01 Jul 09 - 04:29 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Jul 09 - 04:50 PM
Snuffy 01 Jul 09 - 05:00 PM
curmudgeon 01 Jul 09 - 05:38 PM
Snuffy 01 Jul 09 - 05:50 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Jul 09 - 06:01 PM
Phil Edwards 01 Jul 09 - 06:39 PM
meself 01 Jul 09 - 07:18 PM
GUEST,Guest JeffB 01 Jul 09 - 09:14 PM
Dead Horse 01 Jul 09 - 10:26 PM
meself 01 Jul 09 - 10:36 PM
Gervase 02 Jul 09 - 02:16 AM
The Villan 02 Jul 09 - 03:10 AM
Royston 02 Jul 09 - 03:50 AM
Ruth Archer 02 Jul 09 - 04:10 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 02 Jul 09 - 04:19 AM
Phil Edwards 02 Jul 09 - 04:44 AM
Banjiman 02 Jul 09 - 04:59 AM
Phil Edwards 02 Jul 09 - 05:00 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 02 Jul 09 - 06:10 AM
Vic Smith 02 Jul 09 - 06:34 AM
The Sandman 02 Jul 09 - 07:07 AM
The Villan 02 Jul 09 - 07:08 AM
The Villan 02 Jul 09 - 07:18 AM
Phil Edwards 02 Jul 09 - 07:23 AM
The Villan 02 Jul 09 - 07:29 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 02 Jul 09 - 07:32 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 02 Jul 09 - 07:35 AM
The Villan 02 Jul 09 - 07:36 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 02 Jul 09 - 07:44 AM
Dave the Gnome 02 Jul 09 - 08:16 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 02 Jul 09 - 08:45 AM
GUEST,Guest JeffB 02 Jul 09 - 09:09 AM
Dave the Gnome 02 Jul 09 - 09:11 AM
Vic Smith 02 Jul 09 - 09:25 AM
McGrath of Harlow 02 Jul 09 - 09:33 AM
The Sandman 02 Jul 09 - 09:35 AM
Dave Masterson 02 Jul 09 - 09:51 AM
The Sandman 02 Jul 09 - 10:28 AM
Banjiman 02 Jul 09 - 10:33 AM
Morris-ey 02 Jul 09 - 10:52 AM
Banjiman 02 Jul 09 - 10:59 AM
Bill Brown 02 Jul 09 - 11:12 AM
The Villan 02 Jul 09 - 11:31 AM
BB 02 Jul 09 - 12:27 PM
Dead Horse 02 Jul 09 - 12:37 PM
Gervase 02 Jul 09 - 12:44 PM
Banjiman 02 Jul 09 - 01:31 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 02 Jul 09 - 01:48 PM
Vic Smith 02 Jul 09 - 01:52 PM
The Sandman 02 Jul 09 - 02:11 PM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 02 Jul 09 - 02:14 PM
Dead Horse 02 Jul 09 - 02:39 PM
Gervase 02 Jul 09 - 02:43 PM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 02 Jul 09 - 02:53 PM
Spleen Cringe 02 Jul 09 - 03:20 PM
Spleen Cringe 02 Jul 09 - 03:21 PM
GUEST,The hammer (newby) 02 Jul 09 - 04:14 PM
The Villan 02 Jul 09 - 04:22 PM
McGrath of Harlow 02 Jul 09 - 04:34 PM
SallyM 02 Jul 09 - 08:28 PM
The Villan 03 Jul 09 - 02:10 AM
The Villan 03 Jul 09 - 03:03 AM
theleveller 03 Jul 09 - 04:25 AM
dilligafxx 03 Jul 09 - 04:35 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Jul 09 - 04:59 AM
GUEST,Chris P 03 Jul 09 - 05:58 AM
greg stephens 03 Jul 09 - 06:09 AM
Banjiman 03 Jul 09 - 06:13 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Jul 09 - 06:15 AM
Bonzo3legs 03 Jul 09 - 06:18 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Jul 09 - 06:22 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 03 Jul 09 - 06:43 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Jul 09 - 01:45 PM
Morris-ey 04 Jul 09 - 12:03 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 04 Jul 09 - 12:34 PM
DMcG 04 Jul 09 - 12:34 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Jul 09 - 04:54 PM
The Villan 05 Jul 09 - 03:26 AM
GUEST,Chris P 05 Jul 09 - 03:45 AM
The Villan 05 Jul 09 - 04:01 AM
Jack Blandiver 05 Jul 09 - 05:27 AM
BB 05 Jul 09 - 03:25 PM
The Sandman 05 Jul 09 - 04:07 PM
bubblyrat 05 Jul 09 - 05:09 PM
Jack Blandiver 05 Jul 09 - 06:02 PM
Gervase 06 Jul 09 - 03:01 AM
Jack Blandiver 06 Jul 09 - 03:31 AM
GUEST,Chris P 06 Jul 09 - 03:54 AM
Jack Blandiver 06 Jul 09 - 04:01 AM
Banjiman 06 Jul 09 - 04:04 AM
Jack Blandiver 06 Jul 09 - 04:09 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 06 Jul 09 - 05:56 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 06 Jul 09 - 06:05 AM
Mr Red 06 Jul 09 - 06:06 AM
Jack Blandiver 06 Jul 09 - 06:11 AM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 06 Jul 09 - 06:32 AM
Banjiman 06 Jul 09 - 06:53 AM
GUEST 06 Jul 09 - 07:03 AM
Banjiman 06 Jul 09 - 07:17 AM
Bloke from Poole 06 Jul 09 - 07:25 AM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 06 Jul 09 - 07:26 AM
Ruth Archer 06 Jul 09 - 07:38 AM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 06 Jul 09 - 07:58 AM
Banjiman 06 Jul 09 - 08:08 AM
TheSnail 06 Jul 09 - 08:22 AM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 06 Jul 09 - 08:29 AM
Banjiman 06 Jul 09 - 08:47 AM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 06 Jul 09 - 08:50 AM
Rumncoke 06 Jul 09 - 09:50 AM
The Villan 06 Jul 09 - 10:19 AM
Jack Blandiver 06 Jul 09 - 01:26 PM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 06 Jul 09 - 01:32 PM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 06 Jul 09 - 02:35 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 06 Jul 09 - 02:45 PM
The Villan 06 Jul 09 - 02:56 PM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 06 Jul 09 - 02:56 PM
The Sandman 06 Jul 09 - 03:17 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 06 Jul 09 - 03:26 PM
Banjiman 06 Jul 09 - 03:37 PM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 06 Jul 09 - 03:37 PM
Banjiman 06 Jul 09 - 03:48 PM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 06 Jul 09 - 03:53 PM
Banjiman 06 Jul 09 - 03:57 PM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 06 Jul 09 - 04:00 PM
Banjiman 06 Jul 09 - 04:11 PM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 06 Jul 09 - 04:14 PM
Spleen Cringe 06 Jul 09 - 04:39 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 06 Jul 09 - 04:47 PM
GUEST 06 Jul 09 - 04:51 PM
Jack Blandiver 06 Jul 09 - 04:52 PM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 06 Jul 09 - 05:00 PM
Aeola 06 Jul 09 - 05:13 PM
Jack Blandiver 06 Jul 09 - 05:58 PM
Phil Edwards 06 Jul 09 - 06:05 PM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 06 Jul 09 - 06:12 PM
Gervase 06 Jul 09 - 06:21 PM
Penny S. 06 Jul 09 - 06:40 PM
Leadfingers 06 Jul 09 - 06:50 PM
Goose Gander 06 Jul 09 - 06:54 PM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 07 Jul 09 - 02:38 AM
Phil Edwards 07 Jul 09 - 03:00 AM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 07 Jul 09 - 03:18 AM
Banjiman 07 Jul 09 - 03:39 AM
Howard Jones 07 Jul 09 - 03:42 AM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 07 Jul 09 - 03:45 AM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 07 Jul 09 - 03:47 AM
Banjiman 07 Jul 09 - 03:56 AM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 07 Jul 09 - 04:03 AM
Banjiman 07 Jul 09 - 04:14 AM
The Villan 07 Jul 09 - 04:51 AM
greg stephens 07 Jul 09 - 06:57 AM
Les in Chorlton 07 Jul 09 - 07:17 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Jul 09 - 07:40 AM
Bloke from Poole 07 Jul 09 - 08:04 AM
Banjiman 07 Jul 09 - 08:19 AM
Ruth Archer 07 Jul 09 - 09:57 AM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 07 Jul 09 - 12:10 PM
Phil Edwards 07 Jul 09 - 12:48 PM
Phil Edwards 07 Jul 09 - 12:53 PM
Soldier boy 07 Jul 09 - 01:09 PM
Chris Partington 08 Jul 09 - 05:50 AM
Jack Blandiver 08 Jul 09 - 06:23 AM
Morris-ey 08 Jul 09 - 10:26 AM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 08 Jul 09 - 11:50 AM
Banjiman 08 Jul 09 - 12:13 PM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 08 Jul 09 - 12:24 PM
Les in Chorlton 08 Jul 09 - 12:42 PM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 08 Jul 09 - 12:52 PM
Banjiman 08 Jul 09 - 12:57 PM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 08 Jul 09 - 01:08 PM
Phil Edwards 08 Jul 09 - 02:01 PM
Phil Edwards 08 Jul 09 - 02:32 PM
Morris-ey 08 Jul 09 - 02:56 PM
Les in Chorlton 08 Jul 09 - 03:06 PM
Phil Edwards 08 Jul 09 - 03:45 PM
Jack Blandiver 08 Jul 09 - 03:50 PM
The Sandman 08 Jul 09 - 03:55 PM
GUEST,Jim Knowledge 08 Jul 09 - 06:12 PM
Smokey. 08 Jul 09 - 06:21 PM
Phil Edwards 08 Jul 09 - 06:28 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 08 Jul 09 - 06:29 PM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 08 Jul 09 - 07:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Jul 09 - 08:50 PM
Smokey. 08 Jul 09 - 11:15 PM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 09 Jul 09 - 03:04 AM
Phil Edwards 09 Jul 09 - 03:06 AM
GUEST,EricTheOrange 09 Jul 09 - 03:25 AM
Howard Jones 09 Jul 09 - 03:35 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Jul 09 - 03:50 AM
Gervase 09 Jul 09 - 03:58 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Jul 09 - 04:07 AM
Jack Blandiver 09 Jul 09 - 04:19 AM
Banjiman 09 Jul 09 - 04:25 AM
Phil Edwards 09 Jul 09 - 04:31 AM
GUEST,Jim Knowledge 09 Jul 09 - 06:27 AM
Howard Jones 09 Jul 09 - 06:33 AM
GUEST,John from Kemsing 09 Jul 09 - 06:40 AM
GUEST,EricTheOrange 09 Jul 09 - 08:33 AM
Jack Blandiver 09 Jul 09 - 09:00 AM
GUEST,tom bliss 09 Jul 09 - 09:06 AM
glueman 09 Jul 09 - 09:20 AM
Phil Edwards 09 Jul 09 - 09:41 AM
Morris-ey 09 Jul 09 - 09:57 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Jul 09 - 10:17 AM
glueman 09 Jul 09 - 10:26 AM
Morris-ey 09 Jul 09 - 10:38 AM
Morris-ey 09 Jul 09 - 10:40 AM
Phil Edwards 09 Jul 09 - 10:49 AM
Morris-ey 09 Jul 09 - 11:04 AM
Phil Edwards 09 Jul 09 - 11:34 AM
Banjiman 09 Jul 09 - 11:38 AM
Phil Edwards 09 Jul 09 - 11:42 AM
Jack Blandiver 09 Jul 09 - 12:29 PM
Smokey. 09 Jul 09 - 12:48 PM
Phil Edwards 09 Jul 09 - 12:53 PM
Smokey. 09 Jul 09 - 12:59 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Jul 09 - 01:02 PM
Smokey. 09 Jul 09 - 01:20 PM
Morris-ey 09 Jul 09 - 01:33 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Jul 09 - 01:34 PM
Smokey. 09 Jul 09 - 01:40 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Jul 09 - 01:43 PM
Smokey. 09 Jul 09 - 02:18 PM
Jack Blandiver 09 Jul 09 - 02:31 PM
Smokey. 09 Jul 09 - 02:38 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Jul 09 - 02:39 PM
Eric the Viking 09 Jul 09 - 02:42 PM
Smokey. 09 Jul 09 - 02:45 PM
GUEST,romanyman on another puter 09 Jul 09 - 02:58 PM
Bonzo3legs 09 Jul 09 - 03:23 PM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 09 Jul 09 - 03:27 PM
McGrath of Harlow 09 Jul 09 - 03:44 PM
Bonzo3legs 09 Jul 09 - 03:59 PM
GUEST,Martin Duffy 09 Jul 09 - 04:06 PM
GUEST,EricTheOrange 10 Jul 09 - 02:56 AM
Phil Edwards 10 Jul 09 - 03:20 AM
The Villan 10 Jul 09 - 04:07 AM
The Villan 10 Jul 09 - 04:08 AM
melodeonboy 10 Jul 09 - 04:09 AM
The Villan 10 Jul 09 - 04:14 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 10 Jul 09 - 04:21 AM
Ruth Archer 10 Jul 09 - 04:35 AM
Howard Jones 10 Jul 09 - 04:42 AM
GUEST 10 Jul 09 - 04:56 AM
GUEST,tom bliss 10 Jul 09 - 05:00 AM
Phil Edwards 10 Jul 09 - 05:03 AM
Jack Blandiver 10 Jul 09 - 05:07 AM
Morris-ey 10 Jul 09 - 05:23 AM
Phil Edwards 10 Jul 09 - 05:35 AM
Morris-ey 10 Jul 09 - 06:05 AM
Phil Edwards 10 Jul 09 - 06:31 AM
Morris-ey 10 Jul 09 - 07:16 AM
Phil Edwards 10 Jul 09 - 09:02 AM
Morris-ey 10 Jul 09 - 09:22 AM
GUEST,John from Kemsing 10 Jul 09 - 09:34 AM
Jack Blandiver 10 Jul 09 - 09:43 AM
GUEST,tom bliss 10 Jul 09 - 09:53 AM
Morris-ey 10 Jul 09 - 10:20 AM
manitas_at_work 10 Jul 09 - 10:26 AM
Phil Edwards 10 Jul 09 - 10:28 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 10 Jul 09 - 10:39 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 10 Jul 09 - 10:40 AM
Morris-ey 10 Jul 09 - 10:54 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 10 Jul 09 - 11:10 AM
GUEST,John from Kemsing 10 Jul 09 - 11:44 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 10 Jul 09 - 11:53 AM
GUEST,John from Kemsing 10 Jul 09 - 12:10 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Jul 09 - 02:31 PM
Smokey. 10 Jul 09 - 06:39 PM
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Subject: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,SallyM
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 07:49 AM

So Morris are not PC yet again :
BBC
Surely they should have been given the time to explain the tradition.

Sal the Gal


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 08:06 AM

They are on a loser, but I for one support the morris dancers stance.

Ignorent people immediately assume the wrong thing and do not take the time to look into the tradition.

They will probably have to adopt what others like Poacher Morris have done http://www.poacher-morris.freeservers.com/cgi-bin/photoalbum/view_photo/1080274


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 08:09 AM

Some traditions need to be banned for rational reasons (foxhunting, "female circumcision", seal clubbing, dogfighting, bearbaiting, badger baiting, cock fighting, and probably a whole load of others - oh yes, obligatory purdah for females) but blackface morris is not one.

This, regrettably, is PC ignorance, and indeed wilful ignorance. A pedagogue should know better.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Neovo
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 08:17 AM

Outrageous! I can't remember the name but I recall a well-respected Muslim scholar speaking on (probably) the Today Programme on the subject of political correctness. His view was that if English people can't respect and celebrate their own traditions how can they respect those of others.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gedi
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 08:24 AM

I play for Bollin Morris in Cheshire and we tend to use a mixture of colours as well as black. To my knowledge (I haven't been with the side for very long) no one has objected to the black faces as yet. Of course it's entirely possible someone may be offended and not say anything, but we would quickly point out the tradition of disguise etc should anyone question the practice.

With some people however you just cannot win - on Friday evening, sitting in the pub in full regalia after having danced (and with a very blue face I might add) in the car park, I was accused of being racist simply because I said I like English Country Music because it put me in touch with my heritage! I began by stating that I did not wish it to sound nationalistic but alas to no avail. It seems that to some people you must like all kinds of music or else be seen to be racist.

A very tricky area methinks.

cheers
Ged


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 08:40 AM

Ludicrous Ged

Maybe we should all bombard the school with telephone calls complaining about their action and how ignorent they are about tradition.

*"$£%^&!*


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 08:56 AM

So effectively, the primary school has basically branded them as being rascist and even worse stopped them from showing and explaining the tradition of morris dancing etc.

Here is the link to the school

http://www.itom.co.uk/chantry/staff.htm


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: banjoman
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 09:06 AM

This is PC gone mad - it seems to me that we are being asked to give up our traditions over and over again for fear of offending people. Just who are we going to offend? I have no doubt that it would be seen as racist if we were to ask our Muslim and/or other friends and neighbours to forgoe some of their traditions for fear of upsetting us.
Anyone with a modicum of common sense should be able to understand that all races, creeds and colours have long standing traditions in dance, music and other social activities and that these must be preserved. The alternate would be to ban everything that may upset someone else and we can all live in a soulless society.
Come on Chantry School - wake up its the 21st century


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Bernard
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 09:07 AM

"A pedagogue should know better"... unfortunately, narrow-mindedness knows no bounds!

The Britannia Coconut Dancers of Bacup are still banned from performing in Manchester (UK) centre, as far as I know...

Political Correctness does seem to be something people hide behind rather than stand up for...


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 09:07 AM

Beware the troll...Gedi

I say that anyone claiming to have been called a racist for liking english music is in fact a liar.

If I am wrong then the person accusing racism must be a lone idiot, so why would anyone bother to mention it...

...but to propagate the BNP lie that "White" traditions are under some sort of sustained onslaught.

On the blackface issue, I don't know anyone who would actually be offended by it (my recently ex-partner, still close friend, of 7 years is of Pakistani origin and I am a committed anti-racist / anti-fascist activist with a lot of supremely 'PC' friends and colleagues). I think the school over-reacted.

However, there is "always one", as the saying goes, and probably the same imaginary "one" that says liking trad music is racist.

Folk traditions are not pickled in aspic, they constantly evolve. Once there were no blackface morris-men. Then, for social reasons of some sort, they wanted to disguise themselves and used what was to hand...burnt corks.

Now, if it is claimed that society might now not appreciate blackface, why not just choose a different coloured disguise (as many sides have done) It is the disguise that is the essence of the tradition, not the colour.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Leadfingers
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 09:20 AM

Another example of Political Correctness carried to Ridiculous extremes


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 09:26 AM

Well I have just rung them and expressed my disgust at their attitude.

In the end the lady said that she was not involved in the decision and I should put my viewpoint in writing. She did say that they were getting lots of comments because of it.

So I for one am going to e-mail them on office@chantry.kent.sch.uk

I will not be rude to them, but will express my viewpoint about their decision

I hope some of you will do the same and support our traditions.

Maybe we should have a Facebook page for this.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 09:26 AM

"It is the disguise that is the essence of the tradition, not the colour."

Agreed. Plus the *style* of modern blacked-up faces doesn't much resemble a traditional "sooty" face anyway. Though, it does rather like the kind of stage make-up worn by B&W Minstrels.

Midnight blue or ivy green, would serve the same function IMO, without leading to confusion.

Having said that the modern "witch men" look quite gothic in all black - so the blackened face in that instance works well with the rest of the gothic/pagan costume.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 09:26 AM

Well, I wonder what "English Country Music" is. Is it like Big Al Whittle's hilarious "Buster the line-dancing dog"?

I have pinged off three stroppy emails, one to the Chantry School (does anyone else wonder why all their teachers seem to be female and white?), one to the Gravesend Reporter, and one to the Gravesend Messenger - pointing out, as Roston does, that this really does play into the hands of the bigots who will leap about and call for us to fight for our vanishing national identity, or some such nonsense.

Should Motley sue for their fee? They were, were they not, contracted for a paid stand, and the contract was it seems repudiated for no valid reason.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 09:35 AM

>>Should Motley sue for their fee? They were, were they not, contracted for a paid stand, and the contract was it seems repudiated for no valid reason. <<

I had exactly the same thoughts Richard. Would they win?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 09:46 AM

Beware the troll...Gedi

Gedi's not a troll, Royston. He's a nice bloke who sings at our local singaround and plays for Bollin Morris. After your unpleasant experience on the FAF thread, I'd have thought you'd have thought twice about casting aspersions...


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 10:14 AM

Well I have sent my e-mail off to the head teacher.

Richard, have you got e-mail addresses for those other ones you mentioned?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 10:19 AM

I trust you have been able to explain the origins and evolution of the various kinds of Morris - as far as I can tell most Morris people can't agree on what they are.

Best wishes

L in C


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Marje
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 10:32 AM

Crow Sister has a good point, and I'd never really thought of it that way before. Morris traditions are not set in stone, and the disguise could be tweaked a bit by the use other colours, or by drawing black patterns on the face rather than going for that all-over blackness which could lead to confusion about its purpose.

And local schools, in their turn, have a duty to educate their children and the wider community that they claim to be supporting, by encouraging the morris to explain (or getting the teachers to explain) what the blacking-up is all about, and its place in our social history.

As to why the teachers all seem to be female and white - well, the great majority of primary school teachers are female and white in England. I don't expect Gravesend is any different to most places - I'd be surprised if it had a large, settled non-white community, and primary teaching is simply one of those careers (like nursing) that attracts far more women than men, almost everywhere. There's nothing very sinister about it.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 10:34 AM

A Brief Background to Border Morris Dancing

From

"Andy Anderson's booklet on Border Morris for the Morris Federation."

This is an extract from my booklet about Border Morris Dancing, which is published by the Morris Federation. I've no objection to you using extracts from this material (although a credit is always welcome) but please try to avoid passing great chunks of it around. It'd be nice if, instead, you ordered copies of the full text from the Morris Federation. You get a nicely formatted booklet, and the ludicrously small markup helps the Federation to make material like this more widely available. If you are new to Border Morris, this text or the booklet may help you to decide what you want to do and suggest how to go about it. If you already dance Border, it may give you some new ideas for answers to the questions "How did the current style of Border Morris start?" and "What did the original teams do?" Ideas contributed by many people appear in this text and it would be unfair to mention only a few. My thanks go to all concerned or their contributions. Any errors or omissions are, of course, entirely my own.



Border Morris

What is the status of this?

L in C


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: RB3
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 10:41 AM

Not that you shouldn't fight against ridiculous PC-ness whenever it crops up, but in the U.S. there is too much connection between the tradition of black-face and actual racism for us to get away with it (although I may be wrong--there may be some teams out here doing black face). The teams I've seen doing that type of border morris over here tend to use multi-colored face paint instead.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Fidjit
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 10:43 AM

I think I'll get my children removed from that school. ( I'm sure I have some there) They are not educating them properly.

Chas


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 10:46 AM

What do we make of this?

CleeHill


"A dance from a Niggering gang from this area is known by the Clee Hill Mummers. It consists of four men dancing   alternately rounds and stick clashing, to Step dance tunes, and almost certainly with Step Dancing steps. Its origins are probably fairly close to the Westwood dance. There is also a dance similar to the Bromsberrow Heath dance but with
stepping instead of stick clashing from another village on the hill.

Border Morris

Best wishes

L in C


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: romany man
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 10:48 AM

I have also emailed said school. I dont often get upity about pc pratts, (much) but this one catches my craw, ifn we all email them and express OUR offence at them being banned surely this must have an impact. I suppose as usual the english "well it dont involve me" attitude will prevail, however if all the morris fed got together to protest what then, or shall we sit and allow this small chip to become a canyon before we complain.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 10:55 AM

There has been discussion about this on the MDDL. A request has been made that you don't overwhelm the school with emails and another request was made to watch your language. We don't want this to escalate so that it reflects badly on morris dancers.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 10:58 AM

What is MDDL

L in C


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 10:59 AM

Well I just got notification that they have read my e-mail at least.

Well done romany man.
Maybe this sort of thing will get us stirred up enough to do something about all this PC issue, before we all disapear up our own backsides.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 11:00 AM

gravesendmessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk

melody.foreman@archant.co.uk

Sir

I have lived near Gravesend for nearly 50 years. I have been proud of Gravesend's flagship status in terms of integration for many years, from the pioneer days of Pier Road (where I later nearly bought a house) to today. I am proudly opposed to all racists.

But Chantry School's actions in cancelling, without examination of the facts, a contractual booking of Motley Morris, a side dancing in the established English border tradition, because it made unjustified assumptions about their "blackface" traditional makeup, play into the hands of bigots. The face blacking is a tradition to prevent dancers from being recognised by local worthies and potential employers - in the border regions where the border morris style originated. It is echoed in blackface molly dancing from the East Anglian regions. The face blacking is not a racist reference to black skin.

White racists will now say that English traditions are being sacrificed, and that therefore they who value English traditions must fight back.

A pedagogue should have known better.


Yours, etc.


Richard McD. Bridge


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 11:02 AM

Why shouldn't we overwhelm the school with e-mails. They need to understand how some of us feel about their decision.

I personally kept my e-mail polite and to the point and in no way included any swear words or threatening behaviour. I agree with you there manitas.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 11:05 AM

MDDL is Morris Dance Discussion List.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 11:16 AM

Gedi's not a troll, Royston. He's a nice bloke who sings at our local singaround and plays for Bollin Morris. After your unpleasant experience on the FAF thread, I'd have thought you'd have thought twice about casting aspersions...

I haven't had any unpleasant experiences anywhere because I don't hide behind strange names and there can never be any doubt as to what I mean, what I say and what I believe.

That claptrap about "they'll call you racist for [not liking reggae / liking anglo-concertina] - delete as appropriate" is just bound (if not intended) to stir things up and that is the very definition of being a troll, in the internet sense of things.

As I say, I believe the school are very misguided about this but

1. They are not calling Morris racist, they are worried visitors will take offence at the blackface.

2. Blackface is not the tradition, disguise is. Change the colour, avoid offence and everyone is happy with tradition preserved.

3. If Les in Chorlton is right and there are morris groups / aficionados talking about "Niggering" then we have all just lost the arguments totally because, against that background, it is no longer possible to say that blackface morris carries NO racial connotations at all.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 11:17 AM

I suppose that means The Shropshire Bedlams are out of a job then....?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 11:26 AM

My e-mail was read by Christine Munns
Chris Munns is an office administrator.

That will go far then.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 11:33 AM

In my faint memory is a reference from D. Easby (now posting under "The Borchester Echo") about (I think?) her grandfathers recollections of 'reddening up' so to speak, in Yorkshire Morris tradition - ie: using red clay to disguise the face in precisely the same fashion as blackening the face with burnt corks is used in other traditions.

If she sees this thread, hopefully she might confirm or not, my memory of that posting.

The point of course being clarification of the *guising function* of colouring the face, with whatever materials were readily available.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 11:33 AM

Here you go,you can post on here.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196267/Morris-dancers-banned-primary-school-plan-black-event.html#comments


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Dead Horse
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 11:35 AM

Far from changing from blackened faces to blue/green/whatever, I feel that all who DO presently use other colours of face paint should change to black, in order to bring to attention that this is not intended as a racial issue, but more, that it is a traditional issue which is bound with freedom of expression in the face of PC gone mad.
If the schools are failing in their duty to educate, then we must assume that duty for them.
Signed, Annoyed of Strood.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 11:40 AM

I have made a number of posts pointing to the connection between "Blackface" and the Minstrel tradition.

They are from Border Morris websites. Are they irrelevant?

Best wishes

L in C


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 11:41 AM

The jury does still seem to be out on the racial connotations of blackface morris, and it's not something I feel entirely comfortable about.
My own local Border side, Carreg Las avoids this with black and white face-paint, which makes for a more striking look and avoids ugly connotations of 'nigger minstrels' and the like.
The Ring, the Federation and the Open Morris have issued a joint statement on blackface morris:
"There is a historical tradition in Europe and this country of blacking up while dancing. Steve Corrsin (author of Sword dancing in Europe - A History) came across references from central European sword and Morris sources, to dancers with blacked faces in the 15th-17th centuries, for example, Strasbourg (then part of the Holy Roman Empire rather than France) and Zurich (a picture from the Zurich city archives, 1578). Whilst historical precedent is no justification for current practice, teams have developed their style in this context, not with the intention of being offensive.
"It is current day practice in other Countries for dancers to blacken or colour their faces as part of the atmosphere of the dance - and in some instances to whiten up.
"Flag Crackers of Craven (a blacked up Border team) have been featured in a national advertising campaign for NFU Mutual, where they are clearly seen as a Morris team dancing with blacked faces. The campaign has been running since October 1996, and was most recently featured in the Radio Times. At the 1st August 1997 the Advertising Standards Authority have received no complaints of people experiencing the photos as offensive."

For me, however, there are too many references to minstrelsy in histories of border morris, and too much borrowing of tunes (like Not for Joe for one) to convince me that it is wholly unconnected with something that would now be unacceptable.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 11:44 AM

Crow Sister

Yes, my grandfather was a Morris musician and his side in the early part of last century used red clay on their faces. Similarly, in Leicestershire, there are sides that use red sheep raddle. In other words, the Morris or guising tradition was to use whatever came to hand as a disguise, in much the same way as it is a tradition in different parts of Africa for dancers to "white up".


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 11:54 AM

Thanks for confirming that Ms. Echo.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 12:02 PM

You see folks, this is the danger of being too reactionary about news items. On the wise research of L in C / Gervase Webb and the expert evidence of Borchester Echo, it would appear that blackface morris is;

1. Not an essential tradition in and of itself. Other colours and masks will do, and were used.

2. Certainly has some unpleasant and racist connotations even though modern-day morris folk do not intend it to be so.

On the evidence and understanding of our own community, it is easy to see the school's decision as justified, even if I still do not completely agree with it.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 12:11 PM

PS

Please don't tell me that all traditions are intrinsically good and must be preserved intact. Let's go back to witch-burning and send our kids up the chimneys. Or more recently it was quite OK to bar "blacks dogs and Irish" from goods, services and public spaces.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 12:15 PM

I say that anyone claiming to have been called a racist for liking english music is in fact a liar

Royston, You're not only calling Ged a troll, you're also accusing him of lying. I think that's unfair. Just because you've been lucky enough to have never had that experience doesn't mean it hasn't happened. Trust me, there are some dogmatic, misguided and very stupid people on the left as well as some of the nicest people you'll ever meet. Personally, I'm politically a respectable distance left of centre, as are many of my friends. Over the years I've been involved in anti-racist and anti-fascist and anti-deportation campaigns. And over the years, I've heard some right old claptrap about English folk music, from supposedly intelligent people who should know better. And that includes insinuations that the music, dance and traditions are somehow nationalistic in a excluding and offensive way because they are English. Such crap is usually spouted by people whose main agenda is either point scoring, arguing for argument's sake or justifying their own deep seated aversion to folk music. In some cases it is based on a false conflation of ordinary English culture and the entire history of British imperialism. People who say or imply that folk music is somehow racist or nationalistic per se are the ones who are playing into the hands of the far right, not someone like Ged who is clearly genuinely shocked at being told such nonsense about English folk music. My rule of thumb is that if I hear statements like this I'll challenge the silly arse whose said it rather than pretend it wasn't said. Like my daft mate who constructed an entire theory about why lefties should only listen to music of black origin, regardless of there own actual musical taste, as an anti-imperialist gesture. Luckily everyone agreed he was being a bit of a dick!

Now I must get back to listening to my CD of west African psychedelia from the early seventies...

Back on topic, I don't think most Morris dancers are making any kind of link with race when they black up (which is not the same as saying that there are no racist Morris dancers, which I bet there are, unfortunately) but with the earlier traditions around begging disguises and so on. Yet surely it's not that difficult to see how people outside of the minority sport that is Morris might associate blacking up with blackface minstrelry and the connotations that that has? It's not that that hard to choose a non-human colour and avoid possible ambiguity. Doing so wouldn't harm Morris in the least. It might even help because it'll take away one of the sticks used to beat Morris with...


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 12:15 PM

"That will go far then."

Do you really expect anything to done?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 12:27 PM

LOL, Spleen Cringe. Great name BTW - should be the moniker for a morris side or music act. OK, on your expert and eloquent evidence I conclude I am wrong about Ged.

Sorry Ged! I'm being reactionary in my own way and should know better!

The next person that says you're racist for supporting our great folk traditions, slap some green/pink/blue morris-dye on their face so we can all recognise them next time round in a non-race-specific way!

Think no evil of us...


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 12:59 PM

Spleeny: "most Morris dancers are making any kind of link with race when they black up (which is not the same as saying that there are no racist Morris dancers, which I bet there are, unfortunately)"

Ruth A. has commented on BNP members in her local Morris side. A side that of course completely coincidentally... happens to black up!

The possible issues raised and challenges offered, by this kind of adoption of such English folk traditions as this, which are particularly open to abuse, leads us neatly back to the pragmatic and educated approaches that will perhaps be necessary to ensure FaF's (important) purpose.

Some small compromises may be required by some, but educated and informed adaptation that also happens to be *in line with tradition*, cannot be objectionable - or I'd hope?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 01:07 PM

Why offend anyone when it is so easily avoided?

Seems a shame to lose a booking for the sake of the colour of your make up. Would it be so hard to adapt the tradition?

Can you not see why some would be offended by "blacking up"? I can.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 01:18 PM

Yes of course they can adapt Banjiman.

However, what the issue here is, is an assumption that these morris men are rascist becuase they black up, without finding out why and possibly making a lesson plan to explain why they do what they do.

A case of being proven guilty before innocent, by claptrap PC do gooders. Makes me want to puke.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 01:21 PM

Easy to identify the BNP-u-like trolls Royston, they only ever Guest (they never post as members) and they also post under multiple Guest ID's - thus leaving no traceable posting history...


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,baz parkes
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 01:27 PM

"In other words, the Morris or guising tradition was to use whatever came to hand as a disguise, in much the same way as it is a tradition in different parts of Africa for dancers to "white up"."

There's an excellent posting by Vic Smith on this subject on the Froots forum other sites and media watch thread. Someone more clever than I will have to do a link....

Baz


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 01:28 PM

Villian: "what the issue here is, is an assumption that these morris men are rascist becuase they black up"

Who has 'assumed' that these Morris men are racist because they black-up? I haven't seen *any* such aspersions cast of that ilk, by anyone - including the school.

I'd like to see references that make this clear. Because IMO, you're getting the wrong end of the stick here Villain. And clarity in these matters is essential to prevent *exactly* the kinds of damaging and incorrect assertions, which will almost inevitably be made by white racists observing this news item, that R. Bridge refers to in his letter above.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 01:29 PM

It seems to me that the evidence above shows specific links to traditions of guising up in different colours by regional origin. Accordingly if one accepts (as I do) that blacking up is not a racial reference then the colour is specifically part of the tradition, and any offence is taken as a matter of ignorance.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 01:29 PM

The Villain;

However, what the issue here is, is an assumption that these morris men are rascist becuase they black up, without finding out why and possibly making a lesson plan to explain why they do what they do.

A case of being proven guilty before innocent, by claptrap PC do gooders. Makes me want to puke.


You go too far, in spite of plenty of guidance to the correct path.

NOBODY SAID (THE SCHOOL INCLUDED) THAT MORRIS MEN WERE RACIST FOR BLACKING UP. THE SCHOOL WERE WORRIED THAT GUESTS AND VISITORS WOULD SIMPLY BE OFFENDED BY BLACKFACE.

Geesh, what do you have to do...


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 01:33 PM

"NOBODY SAID (THE SCHOOL INCLUDED) THAT MORRIS MEN WERE RACIST FOR BLACKING UP. THE SCHOOL WERE WORRIED THAT GUESTS AND VISITORS WOULD SIMPLY BE OFFENDED BY BLACKFACE."

I was about to write exacrly the same thing.

Put yourself in the shoes of someone black and then consider if you might be offended by the "blacking up".


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 01:34 PM

Baz, the esteemed Ed has moved the fRoots reference out of the media thread (where I put it this morning) into one of its own:

http://froots.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=17952#17952


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 01:36 PM

Cheers, Royston, thanks for the response... I think Ged favours the 'Morris Smurf' look.

Villan, I don't think the school is assuming the Morris Side is racist. I think they're assuming that parents and others will associate blacking up with racism. Certainly there's a discussion to be had, but in the meantime better they're in school, greenfaced or redfaced and dancing than sticking to their guns over a relatively minor detail and excluded. Both sides of the dispute could be looking to meet each other halfway...


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 01:37 PM

Sorry crossposted with Royston and Paul.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 01:38 PM

>>Accordingly if one accepts (as I do) that blacking up is not a racial reference then the colour is specifically part of the tradition, and any offence is taken as a matter of ignorance. <<

Agreed

>>NOBODY SAID (THE SCHOOL INCLUDED) THAT MORRIS MEN WERE RACIST FOR BLACKING UP. THE SCHOOL WERE WORRIED THAT GUESTS AND VISITORS WOULD SIMPLY BE OFFENDED BY BLACKFACE.<<

Firstly, no need to shout.

Secondly, read what you have said. Why would they be offended? They are just disguising their faces.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 01:50 PM

"Why would they be offended? They are just disguising their faces."

So "blacking up" has absolutely no negative connotations for anyone then Villan?

Can you really not see why some people could be offended?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 01:53 PM

The Villain,

We know, because we're folkies, what the *good* tradition of blackface symbolises. That is not true of everyone. Gravesham is one of the most ethnically diverse boroughs in the UK, including London Boroughs. In their own minds, the school are worried that offence would be caused.

I think they are wrong, I think that if the side gave a humorous and informative introduction to the blackface issue then the community would be find it fascinating and enjoyable. I grew up in the borough and went to school in Gravesend and speak with some personal experience of the local community.

However, I can understand the school's perspective. If you read [our own literature] about the origins of blackface and look at the contemporary language used by some of our sides [who talk about "Niggering"] then I can understand why a public, community organisation would decide not to take the risk.

Against that complete backdrop, why do we not celebrate our tradition just as effectively and authentically with a different, less contentious colour?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 02:16 PM

"2. Certainly has some unpleasant and racist connotations even though modern-day morris folk do not intend it to be so."

In a nutshell, that's the thing. The claims that Border Morris never had any connections with minstrelsy are simply not true. In fact, the connection through both the music and the instruments traditionally used is very strong, not to mention the blacking up.

This doesn't mean that morris dancers who black up in 2009 are deliberately celebrating a racist tradition (though, as Crow Sister pointed out, I have suspicions about certain members of my local border side as they are BNP activists). But if anyone asked today's border morris dancers about the origins of the tradition, they'd not be telling the whole truth if they did not mention mistrelsy. And you have to think about how good you'd feel explaining that legacy to a person of colour.


The people on this thread who have accused the school of ignorance for not researching the custom might want to do a bit of reading themselves.

This discussion has been carried out time and again on Mudcat, and I still don't understand why some people feel so threatened by the suggestion that it might be a good idea, in this day and age, to maybe think about using a different colour than black to stand in for the traditional "disguise".

If the school has, as it says, a "fragile" and diverse community, I can absolutely understand their reluctance to potentially damage what trust they may have built up locally by having a black-faced border side perform at their event.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 02:19 PM

Ok I will leave you to it.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 02:20 PM

I don't believe any side should be forced to change colour or add design in order to meet PC agenda. I agree that banning a tradition because it may offend teaches nothing. But it does reinforce unwarranted shame on English traditions and bolsters the BNP argument which is dumb and dangerous.

I don't find the black face in context of Morris dance offensive because I see no connection of the Morris dance style to any people of colour.   Blacking up for minstrel show is racist because the practice was parodying the music and dance of people of colour. It is all about context.

Is there anything wrong with border morris dancers putting on the disguise in front of the audience, using traditional materials (if applicable) and providing an explanation of how and why it is done?
It is time to educate not placate.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 02:26 PM

"I see no connection of the Morris dance style to any people of colour.   Blacking up for minstrel show is racist because the practice was parodying the music and dance of people of colour. It is all about context"

But Tam, blacking up for Border was certainly connected at one time to minstrelsy. So how can one have racist connotations and the other not?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Dead Horse
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 02:56 PM

O.K. So we can safely assume that any morris/mumming/whatever side that continues to black up in spite of the absolutely obvious racial slur, intended or not (strike that - it must be intended if they still defy this public outcry) should immediately be brought to book for inciting racial hatred etc.
I saw a child the other day who had her face painted YELLOW !!!
What were her parents thinking?
I do hope no chinese/japanese folk saw this blatant insult to Asian culture and race.
Do please try to remove heads from arseholes in the ignorant, wherever you find them. Not bow down to them, even if they are in supposed "knowlegeable positions"


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 02:57 PM

Well done Ruth, as before, I think you have said it all.

The 19C Minstrel tradition influenced Border Morris. Why don't they say so?
L in C


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 03:02 PM

Hi Ruth

I was composing as you posted so we kind of crossed.

Unfortunately wikipedia provides neither proof nor documented history but does report several theories. Sadly because the entertainment activities of the poor have not figured worthy enough of recording until recently, we likely never will know the truth.

More recently, some people have postulated that the black face tradition was linked to the much later introduction of the American minstrel shows into Victorian England in the late 1830s. However, there is no direct evidence of this nor any explanation for why rural border morris dancers would choose to adapt their traditional folk dances to partially dress like the minstrel performers, but not adopt the whole costume or any other element of the show.

I just don't see anything in border morris dance or music that compares to the minstrel show music and dance. In my estimation they do not sound or look the same in anyway.

However I do find the following might be more plausible as a reason NOT to black up than the very very loose parallels to American Minstrel shows.

Another theory is that the black face tradition derives from earlier forms of the dance involving a Moroccan king and his followers (which links into the theory that the word "morris" is derived from moorish or moresco). There is recorded evidence from 1688 of payments in Shrewsbury of 10 shillings to Ye Bedlam Morris and 2 shillings for Ye King of Morroco [1].

There are even earlier recordings of a black-face morris tradition in Europe. Carved figures from 1480 in Munich, Germany show "moriscan dancers" with black faces and bells and evidence from France includes the quote from Arbeau circa 1580 which stated "In fashionable society when I was young, a small boy, his face daubed with black and his forehead swathed in a white or yellow handkerchief, would make an appearance after supper. He wore leggings covered with little bells and performed a morris". However, there is too little recorded evidence to prove or disprove any linkage to the dances on the English Welsh borders.


So unless some written documentation of an actual border morris dancer from the time the blacking tradition started surfaces, we each have to make our own decision about it. I believe everyone (even those of colour) should be afforded the same opportunity.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Barden of England
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 03:17 PM

I'm no racist - far from it, but if we carry this to its logical conclusion, then what about the Voodoo tradition where you'll see people 'whitened' up. Am I not able to complain that this may well offend me, and many others?
John Barden


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 03:23 PM

"I'm no racist - far from it, but if we carry this to its logical conclusion, then what about the Voodoo tradition where you'll see people 'whitened' up. Am I not able to complain that this may well offend me, and many others?"

But does it offend you? If so perhaps you could ask for voodoo (with whitened faces) not to be performed at your local school? Assuming they had some planned that is.

I repeat, can you really not see why someone might be offended by "blacking up" .... whatever the motives and the particlar history of the Border Morris tradition? I can.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 03:25 PM

Dead Horse,

Calm down and try to consider the evidence that is being discussed before reacting on instinct alone. What is emerging (in spite of what you would like to hear) is that blackface morris has some very dodgy racist roots. Unlike other colours of disguise - we are all agreed that *facial disguise is the essence of this great english tradition, *not* the colour.

Now you have to understand that Minstrelsy (blackface to impersonate a person of African heritage) is simple and vile racism.

The origin of Minstrelsy lies in the fact that some white folk who couldn't bear even to look on a black person, let alone touch them or pay money to see them entertain, found the black person to be terribly amusing and funny, like a circus elephant or chimp. So other white folk pretended to black and caroused and grinned and looned around the place to amuse the other racists in a way that didn't involve actually being near a real savage.

So, you see, anything derived from or celebrating Minstrelsy *can never* be "good" or "clean" or "justified". It is beyond the pail. I feel sorry for you if you don't understand that.

Some say that Minstrels and Gollywogs are from a "more innocent" time, but that is wrong. They are from a more ignorant and stupid time - of slavery and segregation. These cultural icons must be remembered with utter shame, not celebrated.

This is why blackface (which has an ambiguous heritage) may not be worth hanging onto, particularly as the colour is not important to the *good* folk heritage.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 03:29 PM

John,

I'm no racist - far from it, but if we carry this to its logical conclusion, then what about the Voodoo tradition where you'll see people 'whitened' up. Am I not able to complain that this may well offend me, and many others?

Banjiman has made the good point. I'd add that Voodoo witches whited-up for disguise long before they had ever seen a white-skinned person. They weren't doing it to deride and take the p**s out of white folk.

As I said above this, we are learning that blackface morris has a heritage that is more dodgy than I had previously thought.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 03:35 PM

http://www.welshbordermorris.co.uk/

Please go to this website and click on Clee Hill


Then click Clee Hill
Best wishes

Les


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 03:42 PM

I think it's a question of gently balancing different needs. Within a multi-racial school in particular, it might be a bit too 'full on' to do the blacking-up without some minor allowances for possible misunderstanding, and the real resultant dangers of alienation, especially if having to explain intricate historical details for origins of tradition - which the folk community themselves seem unable to agree upon.

Imagine a young black child going home and telling their African or Asian mum and dad that they saw funny bearded white men dancing around with black painted faces at school. Yes, education needs to be firmly in place, but we don't even have it in place within those English village schools, *without* a real black face to be seen. Most English white kids wouldn't understand it, so how can we expect immigrant families to do so?

Hypothesising for a moment that the blacking practice is indeed *merely* a form of guising, then adapting to *context* is thoroughly appropriate to the maintenace of the tradition. For if, as Borchester Echo says, it was about use of those materials which were readily available - then the particular *colour* was purely *incidental* to available materials, and not an essential fixture of any region.

I'd argue that flexibilty be allowed for. Certainly in this instance, the Morris Men could have suggested to the school that they could mildly adapt their masking/guising for this particularly racially sensitive context.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 03:47 PM

L in C

They have taken down their site in shame and replaced it with a blank index page.

However, they are not as cleve as they think, so you can see the page HERE


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 04:31 PM

If, as appears likely, both border and molly were using blackface or other obscuration of features before minstrelsy, then the use of blackface is not derived from minstrelsy and the origin of blackface is not tainted by it.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 04:36 PM

Tam:

I have posted this previously on Mudcat, but it was som tome before you joined. You might be interested:


'I'm quoting from an article written by Derek Schofield in English Dance and Song magazine, summer 2005:

"Forty years ago, the only English traditional, or revival, dance group who blacked up were the Britania Coco-nut Dancers from Bacup."

"There are references to people blacking up as a form of disguise in popular custom, although in Heaney and Forrest's book 'Annals of Early Morris', there is only one reference to black-faced morris dancers in the period they studied (up to 1750), and that is from the mid-sixteenth century."

The article goes on to discuss how black-faced minstrelsy took hold in America from the early 19th century, and eventually made its way to Britain and enjoyed huge popularity here by the turn of the 20th century: "no village concert was complete without a few minstrel songs."

The piece goes on to discuss the incorporation of blacking up into "traditional" events: "There would seem to be little doubt that the black faces of the traditional morris dance groups of the Welsh Border counties were at least influenced by minstrelsy. The occasional use of banjoes, bones and tambourines in these morris dances cannot be mere coincidence."

I apologise for the brief and piecemeal nature of these quotes, and for the lack of context (especially to Derek) - sadly the whole article is not available on-line. But I can tell you that it makes a pretty convincing case for the influence of minstrelsy on blacking up.

So then the question is, if blacking up and minstrelsy were once intrinsically linked, does it matter today?'


Derek went on to add in the same thread:

'Having looked into blacking up for the EDS feature that Ruth Archer has kindly quoted from, there is undoubtedly an influence on English folk culture from minstrelsy. Bacup may be one, Padstow mummers may be another, the 20th century traditional Border morris which has been copied by revival sides might be another.
The question is ...has the blacking up transcended its origin and now have a life of its own?
Does this practice offend sectors of our society? (And I don't mean just the black members of our society ... white people might also be offended).
And if so, are we prepared to do anything about it?'


Another quote from the same thread, from Dave Hunt:

'A version of the 'A' part of the tune is also used for the tune known as 'Clee Hill' as collected from Dennis Crowther who is from that area, which is not far from Ludlow in South Shropshire. The tune was used by the morris/molly dancers from Clee Hill area and in 'pre-PC' days was known as 'The niggerin' tune' as the dancers went out with blacked-up faces and called it 'Goin' out a-niggerin' The use of the term molly instead of morris,was common in Shropshire and I have met people who remembers 'Going out molly-dancing' in East Shropshire in the 1930s-40s '

And something else that I said later on in the same thread:

'Finally, a few people have said that it would be interesting to hear from a black person what they feel about all of this. Well, the article from EDS that I quoted earlier interviewed several people about the practice, including a dance caller named Nigel Hogg. This is what he had to say:

"I have watched many different dance groups around the country, and on certain occasions I have seen groups black up to perform. As a mixed race man I do find this tradition offensive because I see it as a parody mocking people of colour. I would imagine that the people who perform these dances are not racists, and on some levels the people involved have not even though about the implications these dances might have to people of colour." '


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 04:49 PM

You make a persuasive case, Ruth. I still have doubts about whether the whole blackface morris thing is intrinsically racist but I am definitely coming off the fence in thinking that it is just too dodgy and, if we all agree *black* is not important, then we really should *disguise* in other ways.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 04:57 PM

Fair enough Ruth,

But something about the whole idea of white people protecting black people from potentially offensive performances does not sit well with me either. I think it borders on patronising and insulting their intelligence and denying them the opportunity to see and make a judgement for themselves.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Smokey.
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 05:06 PM

It seems to be rather an insult to black people to assume they would see a face painting tradition as anything other than just that. True, some people (of any colour) will find offence in virtually anything, but I don't think making a show of pandering to them does a great deal towards eliminating the real problems in society; it just seems to breed more intolerance.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,HelenJ
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 05:07 PM

Against the advice I have sent an e-mail to the school expressing my shock at their lack of historical knowledge. I also questioned their ability to teach anything factual. I also signed it "Blacked up Musician for Blacked up Morris!"


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 05:07 PM

From that point of view, Tam, each person has to make their own (hopefully informed) choice about whether they want to dance with a side that blacks up or not. But if someone makes the choice to do so, I think they ought to be willing to be honest with anyone who might ask (and with themselves) about the origins of the custom. I am not saying that border morris dancers are intrinsically racist, but in all likelihood their custom evolved from racist practices.

The school in question did not "ban" the side. The side will continue to dance at events throughout the summer I'm sure, and good luck to them. But because of the sensitivities of this particular community, the school thought it unwise to honour their booking. Surely it is as much the right of the school to choose not to book the side as it is the side's right to dance however it chooses?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 05:14 PM

It seems to me, Ruth, that a great deal in your logical development turns on whether Anglian "Molly" dancing is a form of morris and was so named. I am not an expert on either. Many molly sides seem to have pretty well no moves that look like border moves, but some do have some moves that look like some border moves (but none that look like cotswold or longsword, and not much like any male or female northern clog that I have seen).

Sharp of course refused to accept molly as a form of morris or folk dance and he spoke of it as degenerate.

If then molly is separate in derivation from morris, the existence of the blackface molly tradition undermines the assumption that backface morris is tainted by minstrelsy, as would proof of a morris blackface tradition predating minstrelsy.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Barden of England
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 05:19 PM

Banjiman - People 'whitening' up doesn't offend me in the slightest, and to be fair I am unaware of the Border Morris connection. I always believed that at Rochester Sweeps it was in some way a celebration (a silly way of putting it I know) of the Dickensian method of putting children up the chimney to clean it, and coming out with sooty faces. I will go to the site you suggested and mull it all over.
John Barden


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 05:30 PM

Richard, there was only one brief quote in my post that referred to molly dancing - and if you look again, you'll see that it isn't Anglian but from Shropshire: border morris country.

I'm not sure when border began to be referred to as "border", but it would seem that black-faced dancing in Shropshire was known locally as "molly".


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 05:36 PM

Yes, Ruth, that may be the fulcrum.

If the modern Anglian blackface molly derives its name and blackface habit from Shropshire border, then if Shropshire border is tainted, so is Anglian molly.

If it doesn't OR if blackface predates minstrelsy then the blackface habit is clearly NOT based on minstrelsy, so the suspicion of racist reference is not well founded.

THat was my point.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gedi
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 05:40 PM

Royston said "Beware the troll...Gedi

I say that anyone claiming to have been called a racist for liking english music is in fact a liar.

If I am wrong then the person accusing racism must be a lone idiot, so why would anyone bother to mention it..."


Firstly I must thank Spleen Cringe for coming to my defence whilst I've been doing other things.

Secondly, I can assure you Royston that I am neither Troll nor Liar. Nor do I appreciate being called such. The incident mentioned did happen and there were witnesses. I think your third sentence struck the nail on the head - the guy was a pratt of the first order.

However I mentioned it just to show that such people do exist and that we should be aware of that fact. I was certainly taken by surprise that he could even think I was being racist, and he would not let me explain myself at all ( I think it was mostly the beer talking tbh).

For your information, anyone who knows me will tell you that I am definately not a racist, living in a vibrant multicultural area of Manchester with friends from many different backgrounds.

I don't intend to carry on with this but I felt I had to respond to your over-hasty character assasination.

By the way, I personally would not wear black makeup. As Spleen says I prefer more the Smurf look, which is why I was 'Blued Up' on the night in question.

Ged


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 05:41 PM

I think John Kirkpatrick invented it in reply to people asking him what he did in the day time.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 05:42 PM

I can't be arsed to find the article at this juncture, Richard, but the sources were very sound. I think there's been a fair bit of relevant research into this area. And Dave Hunt's experience, as someone who is well respected and known in the folk music community, is quite persuasive.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 05:52 PM

I'm not clear why you need to be arsey Ruth.

There is a logical sequence to my question, and I would have hoped you might appreciate it.

Borchester, your knowledge is often second to none but I do not see the point you are making. Yes I ahve followed teh link.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Vic Smith
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 05:56 PM

Baz Parkes wrote
"There's an excellent posting by Vic Smith on this subject on the Froots forum other sites and media watch thread. Someone more clever than I will have to do a link...."


Ahem! Well, the link to the fRoots Forum is http://froots.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=4563 where Ian Anderson (if it is safe to mention that name on Mudcat) posts with a similar experience to mine.

However, in posting it on fRoots I was merely quoting what I had written on the Folk Against Fascism thread at http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=121472

You can't have missed it; it is the 270th posting of (currently) 713 postings on that thread!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 06:08 PM

I wasn't being arsey, Richard - honest! Mwah! Mwah!

I was being knackered - it's been a really long day and I literally cannot be arsed to clear off the blanket box and search out my back-issues of EDS. But if you're interested, I'm happy to do it tomorrow. I remember there were a lot of sources for suggested further reading.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Kev The Clogs
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 06:10 PM

I have just sent the following email to the Headteacher of Chantry School (I used to work upstairs in the specialist teaching unit on the top floor".

Dear Hazel King,

I just had to write to you and say how appaled I am at your discision to ban Motley Morris from performing at your school.

I don't know how you got to hear about them - word of mouth/saw them at an event/saw their web site - whichever way, it is VERY obvious that they paint there faces in black.

Motley have danced in many parts of this country and have given great pleasure to many people of many different faiths/colours/cultures.

As a teacher, I find your actions extreme and unwarrented. Surely education is about all cultures, walks of life, origins etc. You are denying your students to right to discussion and enquiry which would certainly have followed a visit by Motley.

As a Morris Dancer, I find your actions DEEPLY offensive towards ALL Morris Dancers.

Morris Dancing is OUR heritage and National Dance - I'm sure that you would promote Dancers and Dancing from other cultures - so WHY NOT OURS!!!??

Yours

Kevin Tudor
Steward for Bishop Gundulf's Morris


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 07:47 PM

Richard Bridge

You are surely aware (or perhaps not) that John Kirkpatrick, hacked off at those who assumed his working time consisted of 2 x 45 minute sets per night, wrote a song called What Do You Do In The Day?

One of those things he did, on moving to Shropshire, was to reinvent Border Morris.

******

And hey, Pete Coe is a headliner. He's been at Sidmouth every time I've been there (and more times besides) AND he's written a stadium rock song.

Me, I'd listen to Banditaliana and Genticorum all day long for the entire week, even if it has to be in a horrible tent with giant birds stomping all over the roof.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 07:48 PM

Oops, wrong thread - I had two open,
Can a clone please delete?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 07:49 PM

A few thoughts on the discussion, especially since Ruth Archer has been quoting me.

The evidence points clearly, in my mind, to the fact that Border Morris was influenced by minstrelsy. Songs, tunes, dress (and not just the backface), instruments used (banjo, tambourine, bones). In addition, minstrel songs entered what we could call the 'popular/traditional/folk song' repertoire of country singers as well.

I am sure that the people who danced and sang in the minstrel troupes or danced and sang the minstrel-influenced dances and songs did not set out to be "offensive" to black people (they'd probably never met any black people).

I'm old enough to remember the Black and White Minstrels on the telly, and it never occurred to me that they were setting out to be "offensive".

And now, the plethora of Border Morris sides that black up ... I am sure that they do not set out to be "offensive".

But "being offensive" is not in the eye of the perpetrator, it is surely in the eye of the beholder.

Vic Smith and Ian Anderson on the fRoots messageboard have both given evidence of how black people have not been offended by blacked-up dancers because they can draw analogies with whiting up in their own cultures. They have a context (once explained!) in which to see the dancers. (And both the examples quoted were of black people who had grown up in African countries). Of course the explanations they are given make no reference to minstrelsy – only to the matter of "disguise".

Forty years ago there was no revival (or traditional) Border Morris. It is a relatively modern phenomenon in the morris world. The sides that started up, that led the way, relied on the few notations that were available. The biggest influence on the Border revival is probably John Kirkpatrick's Shropshire Bedlams, in terms of style, dress, dance formation etc, John openly admits that he "invented" the style of dancing and most of the dances, using the traditional dances as inspiration. Sides that have followed have copied Bedlams' dances or continued the process of inventing dances.

Here's an observation: there are several different ingredients in any morris tradition – music, costume, dances, style etc.... Most Border Morris sides use recently- composed tunes, played on instruments that were never used traditionally for Border morris, wearing costumes that often bear slight relation to the costumes used traditionally, dancing dances that are recently made up in a style that has been recently invented. And yet ... when it comes to challenging the blacking up aspect of their appearance, it is "tradition" that is used in justification for continuing to do it. If all the other "traditional" aspects of the dance "tradition" can be jettisoned, then why not the black face?

Discuss!

I'm interested to hear from any side that has discussed the matter of blackface rationally, considered the evidence, wondered if they might be causing offence and then made a decision to retain the blackface or change to a different colour or drop the blackface altogether.

Derek Schofield


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: melodeonboy
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 07:52 PM

"it is easy to see the school's decision as justified"

C'mon Royston. It's not easy at all. It sounds to me like a decision made by silly little people who've been to school, followed by teachers' training college, followed by going back to school as a teacher, whose world view consists of politically correct government directives (I know, I work in a school) and misguided columnists on certain newspapers. It's ignorance, stupidity, fear and lack of backbone and, above all, a lack of common sense and cultural understanding.

As many of those who've posted above (Richard Bridge, Kev The Clogs, Dead Horse, Neovo et al) have stated, or at least implied, the whole thing is so ridiculous that it's not even worthy of intelligent debate.

Let's not even try to intellectualise it (or go down the path of talking about using blue or sky blue pink or whatever other colours people have in mind). Just write to the head, as some of you have already done, and let the school know that a real world exists outside those school gates!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 07:55 PM

No. don't delete my 7.47 post. It is meant for here (at least the first half addressed to R Bridge is). I'm knackered too.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Joybell
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 08:06 PM

Sorry if someone has mentioned them already but -- chimney sweeps fit in here with morris dancing. They are part of this tradition from before the blackface minstrels. Ref. Egan's "Life in London" Their colour is sooty black. Part of their occupation and not anything to do with the colour of people. Multi-coloured chimney sweeps? Silly.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Soldier boy
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 10:07 PM

Goodness me what a cafuffle. Has the world gone mad?
All this debate and argument over something so completely 'innocent'.

No morris side that blacks up does it intentionally to offend black people. Good grief! They do it mainly so that they have a veneer of disguise which certainly has a clear and well documented tradition with both morris and mumming sides so they could dance out or collect 'offerings'and hopefully not be recognised,especially in small,close knit communities and villages.
The anonymity and mystery being part of the allure and a cloak to hide behind for nervous or bashful participants and it was a purely innocent colour readily available in coal dust or by burning corks etc so that is why the colour black was used. It was readily available and for the working man it was cheap.
They're innocent.

If any morris side really intended to provoke or incite racial hatred don't you think they would have chosen something far more obvious like the garb of the klu klux klan or something.
Blacking up has absolutely nothing to do with pretending to be or emulating a dark skinned race.I don't think for one minute that any side has been influenced by the Black and White Minstrels which is a comical parody beneath most self respecting individuals.
It's innocent.

The famous Bacup Coconut Dancers are blacked up and wear strange red and white hooped skirts because I believe they are copying an ancient Morrocan/Moorish tradition (which many people believe is the origin and birth place of all morris dancing anyway)
Innocent.

Now in all innocence please consider this and throw it into the melting pot. A few years ago, I'm not sure when, at the Rochester Sweeps Festival the BBC in all their correct PC wisdom decided that they could not film kids blacked up as sweeps because it might offend ethnic minorities in our cherished,cosmopolitan and nanny state country.
These young children were distraught and gutted by this decision because they would'nt appear on telly.
They,nor their parents that innocently blacked up their sweet little faces, thought for one single second that this might cause offence and had done the same ritual for many years at the festival.
After all if you are representing an innocent depiction of children sent up chimneys, guess what they will get black from the soot!
We all know now that this was a despicable trade in child labour but it was all done in fun at this festival - in the vein of a Dickensian characterture or a light hearted image from Mary Poppins.
Innocent.

Guess what,in conclusion, the clear message is that it is all 'innocent'.

Sometimes when blindly following a 'tradition' some people might follow it or ressurect it without knowing the real intent or symbolism behind the tradition but today in this century I do not believe that there is any real or sustained intention to upset our coloured brethren. Or if it does occur it is all done in complete innocence.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 02:27 AM

100.
Of course no morris side blacks up to cause offence intentionally.*
No-one has suggested that.
The fact is that it can cause offence, and like the black and white minstrels, child labour, badger baiting and other such things, is maybe best put aside or adapted to suit the changing times.
Is it really too much to ask for these moderen, reinvented sides to tweak their pastiche that little bit more and substitute patterns for plain black or use another dark colour. For goodness sake, the average morris dancer's rig has naff-all in common with what was worn 130 years ago anyway., what with all the badges, the zxip-up trousers, the poly-cotton shirts and the like. To cling to this one aspect of the reinvention smacks of desperation, mulishness or worse.

*But, as Ruth says, there are some odd folk in morris sides. I received some extremely dubious right-wing emails via two in my local side a while back, so perhaps there is an undercurrent we should acknowledge in the open.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 02:33 AM

Has anyone noted any sides blacking up but leaving the lips and a wide margin around the lips free of make up?

Had I seen that on a morris dancer, then yes I would find it disgusting and repugnant.

What say morrisers who want to disguise, dress themselves only in woad and nothing else? Well, there is a historical precedent for that, but somehow I think more people would be offended.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 02:55 AM

This is the last time I am going to state again my balanced view on this subject. Read it, or don't (more likely!)

Morris dancers generally do not intend to offend anyone.

Blackface risks offending a lot of people. Whether those people are right to be offended, or wrong and need educating, if you can't understand that fact of the offence then you are profoundly stupid.

So you must understand the concern of the school.

Blackface morris is not important - any colour will do.

On the testimony of the person who invented border morris about 40 years ago, the darn thing isn't even a real tradition.

A lot of you know me very well and you know that I enjoy border, and other morris, including blackface. However, I don't have a dogmatic attachment to totems. I would fight to protect our genuine traditions, but won't waste time and effort on frippery. Fight the good fight!

So what are we saying? if We're not fighting for a tradition; what are we fighting for?

I just think that it would have been better that the kids got to see morris and so I think that we should be circumspect and flexible on the issue of face-colour.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 03:13 AM

Kevin:

Morris Dancing is OUR heritage and National Dance - I'm sure that you would promote Dancers and Dancing from other cultures - so WHY NOT OURS!!!??

I have to say this strikes me as precisely the wrong approach. Anyone reading your letter who has already decided that blackface is racist will simply conclude that traditional English culture is racist, and to hell with it. "Why not ours?" Putting myself in that head-teacher's shoes for a moment, that's not a difficult question to answer at all: because "we" are the inheritors of a history of oppression; Britannia didn't just rule the waves, she ruled millions of people with naturally dark faces, and didn't always do a good job of it. You might as well ask why the Orange Order shouldn't be allowed to celebrate their culture (by marching through Catholic areas banging drums).

There may be people out there who have been blacking up, man and boy, since Cecil Sharp was a lad, but it seems to me that the spread of blackface Morris is a very recent phenomenon. When I was a kid - in South London in the 70s - Morris meant cricket whites with bells round the ankles and perhaps a sash; the bag-carrier would wear a boater with flowers around the brim, but that was about as fancy as it got. As far as I'm concerned, it's Morris that's traditional - blackface is an optional extra, and a pretty recent addition for most sides. If you can't do it that way any more these days, for fear of being misinterpreted, so what? Do it a different way.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 03:15 AM

Since almost nobody much has commented to Derek's post I take the liberty of posting it again:

"The evidence points clearly, in my mind, to the fact that Border Morris was influenced by minstrelsy. Songs, tunes, dress (and not just the backface), instruments used (banjo, tambourine, bones). In addition, minstrel songs entered what we could call the 'popular/traditional/folk song' repertoire of country singers as well.

I am sure that the people who danced and sang in the minstrel troupes or danced and sang the minstrel-influenced dances and songs did not set out to be "offensive" to black people (they'd probably never met any black people).

I'm old enough to remember the Black and White Minstrels on the telly, and it never occurred to me that they were setting out to be "offensive".

And now, the plethora of Border Morris sides that black up ... I am sure that they do not set out to be "offensive".

But "being offensive" is not in the eye of the perpetrator, it is surely in the eye of the beholder.

Vic Smith and Ian Anderson on the fRoots messageboard have both given evidence of how black people have not been offended by blacked-up dancers because they can draw analogies with whiting up in their own cultures. They have a context (once explained!) in which to see the dancers. (And both the examples quoted were of black people who had grown up in African countries). Of course the explanations they are given make no reference to minstrelsy – only to the matter of "disguise".

Forty years ago there was no revival (or traditional) Border Morris. It is a relatively modern phenomenon in the morris world. The sides that started up, that led the way, relied on the few notations that were available. The biggest influence on the Border revival is probably John Kirkpatrick's Shropshire Bedlams, in terms of style, dress, dance formation etc, John openly admits that he "invented" the style of dancing and most of the dances, using the traditional dances as inspiration. Sides that have followed have copied Bedlams' dances or continued the process of inventing dances.

Here's an observation: there are several different ingredients in any morris tradition – music, costume, dances, style etc.... Most Border Morris sides use recently- composed tunes, played on instruments that were never used traditionally for Border morris, wearing costumes that often bear slight relation to the costumes used traditionally, dancing dances that are recently made up in a style that has been recently invented. And yet ... when it comes to challenging the blacking up aspect of their appearance, it is "tradition" that is used in justification for continuing to do it. If all the other "traditional" aspects of the dance "tradition" can be jettisoned, then why not the black face?

Discuss!

I'm interested to hear from any side that has discussed the matter of blackface rationally, considered the evidence, wondered if they might be causing offence and then made a decision to retain the blackface or change to a different colour or drop the blackface altogether.

Derek Schofield"

It's seems traditional that when exchanges get this long people don't read what others of said.

Derek's post and Ruth's previously seem to make most sense,

Best wishes

Les


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 03:17 AM

Since almost nobody much has commented to Derek's post I take the liberty of posting it again and again:

"The evidence points clearly, in my mind, to the fact that Border Morris was influenced by minstrelsy. Songs, tunes, dress (and not just the backface), instruments used (banjo, tambourine, bones). In addition, minstrel songs entered what we could call the 'popular/traditional/folk song' repertoire of country singers as well.

I am sure that the people who danced and sang in the minstrel troupes or danced and sang the minstrel-influenced dances and songs did not set out to be "offensive" to black people (they'd probably never met any black people).

I'm old enough to remember the Black and White Minstrels on the telly, and it never occurred to me that they were setting out to be "offensive".

And now, the plethora of Border Morris sides that black up ... I am sure that they do not set out to be "offensive".

But "being offensive" is not in the eye of the perpetrator, it is surely in the eye of the beholder.

Vic Smith and Ian Anderson on the fRoots messageboard have both given evidence of how black people have not been offended by blacked-up dancers because they can draw analogies with whiting up in their own cultures. They have a context (once explained!) in which to see the dancers. (And both the examples quoted were of black people who had grown up in African countries). Of course the explanations they are given make no reference to minstrelsy – only to the matter of "disguise".

Forty years ago there was no revival (or traditional) Border Morris. It is a relatively modern phenomenon in the morris world. The sides that started up, that led the way, relied on the few notations that were available. The biggest influence on the Border revival is probably John Kirkpatrick's Shropshire Bedlams, in terms of style, dress, dance formation etc, John openly admits that he "invented" the style of dancing and most of the dances, using the traditional dances as inspiration. Sides that have followed have copied Bedlams' dances or continued the process of inventing dances.

Here's an observation: there are several different ingredients in any morris tradition – music, costume, dances, style etc.... Most Border Morris sides use recently- composed tunes, played on instruments that were never used traditionally for Border morris, wearing costumes that often bear slight relation to the costumes used traditionally, dancing dances that are recently made up in a style that has been recently invented. And yet ... when it comes to challenging the blacking up aspect of their appearance, it is "tradition" that is used in justification for continuing to do it. If all the other "traditional" aspects of the dance "tradition" can be jettisoned, then why not the black face?

Discuss!

I'm interested to hear from any side that has discussed the matter of blackface rationally, considered the evidence, wondered if they might be causing offence and then made a decision to retain the blackface or change to a different colour or drop the blackface altogether.

Derek Schofield"

It's seems traditional that when exchanges get this long people don't read what others of said.

Derek's post and Ruth's previously seem to make most sense,

Best wishes

Les


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 03:17 AM

Since almost nobody much has commented to Derek's post I take the liberty of posting it again and again:

"The evidence points clearly, in my mind, to the fact that Border Morris was influenced by minstrelsy. Songs, tunes, dress (and not just the backface), instruments used (banjo, tambourine, bones). In addition, minstrel songs entered what we could call the 'popular/traditional/folk song' repertoire of country singers as well.

I am sure that the people who danced and sang in the minstrel troupes or danced and sang the minstrel-influenced dances and songs did not set out to be "offensive" to black people (they'd probably never met any black people).

I'm old enough to remember the Black and White Minstrels on the telly, and it never occurred to me that they were setting out to be "offensive".

And now, the plethora of Border Morris sides that black up ... I am sure that they do not set out to be "offensive".

But "being offensive" is not in the eye of the perpetrator, it is surely in the eye of the beholder.

Vic Smith and Ian Anderson on the fRoots messageboard have both given evidence of how black people have not been offended by blacked-up dancers because they can draw analogies with whiting up in their own cultures. They have a context (once explained!) in which to see the dancers. (And both the examples quoted were of black people who had grown up in African countries). Of course the explanations they are given make no reference to minstrelsy – only to the matter of "disguise".

Forty years ago there was no revival (or traditional) Border Morris. It is a relatively modern phenomenon in the morris world. The sides that started up, that led the way, relied on the few notations that were available. The biggest influence on the Border revival is probably John Kirkpatrick's Shropshire Bedlams, in terms of style, dress, dance formation etc, John openly admits that he "invented" the style of dancing and most of the dances, using the traditional dances as inspiration. Sides that have followed have copied Bedlams' dances or continued the process of inventing dances.

Here's an observation: there are several different ingredients in any morris tradition – music, costume, dances, style etc.... Most Border Morris sides use recently- composed tunes, played on instruments that were never used traditionally for Border morris, wearing costumes that often bear slight relation to the costumes used traditionally, dancing dances that are recently made up in a style that has been recently invented. And yet ... when it comes to challenging the blacking up aspect of their appearance, it is "tradition" that is used in justification for continuing to do it. If all the other "traditional" aspects of the dance "tradition" can be jettisoned, then why not the black face?

Discuss!

I'm interested to hear from any side that has discussed the matter of blackface rationally, considered the evidence, wondered if they might be causing offence and then made a decision to retain the blackface or change to a different colour or drop the blackface altogether.

Derek Schofield"

It's seems traditional that when exchanges get this long people don't read what others of said.

Derek's post and Ruth's previously seem to make most sense,

Best wishes

Les


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Woody
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 03:27 AM

Maybe if the school had concerns they could have discussed them with Motley Morris to see if they could come up with some kind of solution acceptable to both rather than just cancelling?

From descriptions I've seen about the origins of the blackface it's always sounded to me like just some black was smeared/streaked over the face, not necessarily completely covering it. If this was the case, maybe the full face cover developed when minstrel acts became popular?


On a wider note, a mate of mine came up with the observation that you're not being non-racist when you're being considerate of his skin colour and what might offend him.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 03:34 AM

Please read above Woody


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 03:39 AM

Morning Les - "send" button stuck?

What Derek says needs to be taken seriously, and having only just read his post I thank him for it.

I also thank Borchester for her explanation. I didn't see the train of thought. Now I do: it is that John Kirkpatrick invented Border Morris and also the blackface part of it (which it therefore not "traditional").

But there seem to be two flaws with this. I discount the "sweep" theory since while apparently at least in Rochester the sweeps did celebrate their one day a year holiday, but they were not carriers of the dance tradition (if any).

The two flaws are these, in my view.

Sharp refused to collect Anglian molly dances (stating them to be "degenerate". If they were then already in blackface, that considerably reduces the likelihood that the source of that blackface tradition (if there was one) was minstrelsy. If that is so of Anglian molly, it must make us suspect the assertion that blackface border is rooted in minstrelsy. Against this, "Molly" as a name was (was it not, and by way of contrast to "Moll Flanders"?) widely used as a name for black female slaves, so the term "molly" might (but it's a bit of a stretch from that to "is") although not rooted in mistrelsy still connote casual racism.

Secondly, it has above been stated that other traditions have "guised" by use of other colourings, and if that is true then if there was a border tradition it makes it more likely that the border tradition included guising by the use of black - whether coaldust or burnt cork.


To muse further on the Kirkpatrick aspect, the date of his apparent invention gives us a likely explanation for the appearance of some Anglian molly moves in border (which would strengthen the argument that blackface is a longstanding tradition albeit not in border). I am left puzzled why anyone would suddenly wake up and think "I've nothing to do today. I know, I'll invent a fake tradition".


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 03:45 AM

PS. But if border blackup is derived from minstrelsy then it should be refashioned so that the racist aspect is lost.

My assumption would be that whiteface in voodoo is intended to call a bleached skull to mind.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 03:45 AM

Kev Clogs,

As a teacher, you know the lengths that the profession has to go to consider the welfare of the kids, in the widest sense of the word 'welfare'.

My point is that if a teacher at Chantry (in a town with a massive asian / black community) went to prepare some teaching resources to accompany the visit of a border morris side and went to the website bordermorris.co.uk and found the proponents of the "tradition" referring to it as "niggering" (refer to the dance "Clee Hill" as L in C has been trying to suggest) then, as a teacher yourself, what would you do?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 04:23 AM

People might be offended. Oh! dear, that must never be. Thousands of people a year die from being offended, don't they?

I hope that the teacher Kevin Tudor wrote to sends his letter back with the spelling and grammar corrected.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,EricTheOrange
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 04:26 AM

> "Molly" as a name was (was it not, and by way of contrast to "Moll Flanders"?) widely used as a name for black female slaves, so the term "molly" might (but it's a bit of a stretch from that to "is") although not rooted in mistrelsy still connote casual racism.

Wasn't molly a term referring to a transvestite gay men and that is the reason for the male dancer dressed as a woman? {See Molly Houses for more} So the male dancer is a mockery of them?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 04:47 AM

I had forgotten that use of the term "molly", but I thought it was generally said that the molly (ie woman dressed as a man) in morris was not a reference to homosexuality, but more in the tradition of the pantomime dame (which tradition I think also predates minstrelsy, doesn't it?).


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 05:12 AM

People might be offended. Oh! dear, that must never be. Thousands of people a year die from being offended, don't they?

No, nobody has a right to not be offended, but this is all about context. A community school has an obligation to be sensitive to community feelings.

Please, why will nobody address the fact that the border morris website stated that blackface morris is "Niggering"? you can't ignore this particular elephant in the room because its fat elephantine arse is rightly squeezing the life out of our arguments in favour of blackface.

And that's before we get to the fact that blackface / border as we see it today, is not even traditional; in fact it is younger than most mudcatters.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,EricTheOrange
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 05:13 AM

> I had forgotten that use of the term "molly", but I thought it was generally said that the molly (ie woman dressed as a man) in morris was not a reference to homosexuality, but more in the tradition of the pantomime dame

I thought that pantomime dames were also a comic parody of 'mollies.' I'm not suggesting either should be banned though. As you imply, cross-dressing humour is part of british comic tradition. I don't know but I'd be surprised if gay transvestite men were offended by either dames or molly dancing.

On the original topic perhaps we should leave it to black people to decide if they are offended or not?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 05:15 AM

Sorry, I forgot to login earlier, message repeated...

People might be offended. Oh! dear, that must never be. Thousands of people a year die from being offended, don't they?

No, nobody has a right to not be offended, but this is all about context. A community school has an obligation to be sensitive to community feelings.

Please, why will nobody address the fact that the border morris website stated that blackface morris is "Niggering"? you can't ignore this particular elephant in the room because its fat elephantine arse is rightly squeezing the life out of our arguments in favour of blackface.

And that's before we get to the fact that blackface / border as we see it today, is not even traditional; in fact it is younger than most mudcatters.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 05:16 AM

Interesting tangent. The cross dressing element of guised revels is I think, a traditional aspect of 'misrule' festivities, embracing inversion in all forms. I'd guess that the Panto Dame and Lead Boy, possibly are inherited *somewhat* from such Saturnalia style customs. I wonder if the blackening of white faces, is in any way another aspect of the same kind of paradoxical thing.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,EricTheOrange
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 05:19 AM

> No, nobody has a right to not be offended, but this is all about context. A community school has an obligation to be sensitive to community feelings.

Absolutely. If the community had expressed particular feelings it would be incumbent on the school to take them into account. In this case however it seems the school that is imposing their assumptions, not acting in response to expressed feelings of the community.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 05:25 AM

"Sharp refused to collect Anglian molly dances (stating them to be "degenerate". If they were then already in blackface, that considerably reduces the likelihood that the source of that blackface tradition (if there was one) was minstrelsy."

The popularity of minstrelsy pre-dates Sharp's collecting. It was already popular in Britain the mid-19th century.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 05:26 AM

Eric the Orange,

Absolutely. If the community had expressed particular feelings it would be incumbent on the school to take them into account

But we come back to the fact that all available from folk-community sources says blackface is of racist origins and the main propenents proudly call it niggering.

What choice did the school have? With that evidence from our community, they have no need nor obligation to look any further at all.

There is no point to this discussion unless it addresses this fact.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 05:27 AM

It's all about risk, Eric. If the school thinks there's a high risk that somebody will be offended by a particular event, the chances are that the school will decide not to put that event on. Why invite the hassle? It's not the Morris side who would be getting the visits from irate parents afterwards.

Telling the school that they're wrong to be offended - or that they're wrong to think anyone would be offended; or that anyone who might be offended would be wrong to be offended - isn't really going to cut it.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 05:31 AM

>>No, nobody has a right to not be offended, but this is all about context. A community school has an obligation to be sensitive to community feelings.<<

Perhaps the school should have consulted its "community" then?

>>Please, why will nobody address the fact that the border morris website stated that blackface morris is "Niggering"? you can't ignore this particular elephant in the room because its fat elephantine arse is rightly squeezing the life out of our arguments in favour of blackface.<<

It is referred to as Niggering because that is what is was (is?) called.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 05:32 AM

...what it as called.

(Is editing possible?)


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 05:34 AM

Interesting thought, Crow Sister. That might parallel voodoo ritual too.


Royston, there are at least four things we do not know about the "niggering" quote.

We do not know whether it is a foolish modern usage that tells us nothing about the tradition.

We do not know whether it is a malevolent modern usage that tells us something about the writer but nothing of the tradition.

We do not know whether it was a Victorian period writing tainted by the casual racism of that period.

We do not know whether the description predates that period (compare the northern descriptions of vertical rock crevices as "arses" that so offended the Victorians that maps now show such features called eg "Great House").


Unless and until we learn the origin of the writing in question we cannot evaluate it, and it does not inform our understanding of whether any blackface tradition is racist or not.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 05:39 AM

Richard, your 4 points above about "niggering" don't matter.... it is an offensive decription, traditional or not.



"It is referred to as Niggering because that is what is was (is?) called. "

Very useful & informative!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 06:04 AM

"the main propenents proudly call it niggering."

To be fair, I'm not sure that this is still true, but to address Richard's points (and according to Dave Hunt's evidence that I quoted earlier) it was certainly a term still being used in living memory (the 1930s-40s).

To be honest, once you begin to interrogate the history, it's rather hard to refute the connection. The REAL questions, here and now, are these:

If you are in a side that blacks up and someone asks you what the origins and history of the custom are, would you be happy to mention its connection with mintrelsy?

If the answer is no, does this mean that the racist heritage of the custom makes the custom itself, by extension, socially unacceptable in the 21st century?

If the answer is yes, does this mean that you, as a morris dancer, or your side, feel that there is a disconnect between the heritage of the custom and its contemporary expression? Has blacking up in itself become so disconnected from its roots that those roots no longer matter?

And finally, to those who are defending most vigourously their right to black up and dance wherever they want, Derek's question once again: "there are several different ingredients in any morris tradition – music, costume, dances, style etc.... Most Border Morris sides use recently- composed tunes, played on instruments that were never used traditionally for Border morris, wearing costumes that often bear slight relation to the costumes used traditionally, dancing dances that are recently made up in a style that has been recently invented. And yet ... when it comes to challenging the blacking up aspect of their appearance, it is "tradition" that is used in justification for continuing to do it. If all the other "traditional" aspects of the dance "tradition" can be jettisoned, then why not the black face?"


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Azizi
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 06:23 AM

The very first time that I ever posted in this forum's BS (below the line) section was when a member sent me a private message about a thread on blackening up and indicated that it would be interesting to see what I -as an African American-had to say about this custom. I posted to that particular thread and have posted to other Mudcat threads on this topic. As such my views about the custom of blackening up are already known to most people on this forum. To those who don't know those views, I will merely say that they coincide with the comments posted on this thread by Les in Chorlton 29 Jun 09 - 11:40 AM Ruth Archer 29 Jun 09 - 02:16 PM PM GUEST,Crow Sister 29 Jun 09 - 03:42 PM, Derek Schofield 29 Jun 09 - 07:49 PM Gervase Webb 30 Jun 09 - 02:27 AM Royston 30 Jun 09 - 02:55 AM Pip Radish 30 Jun 09 - 03:13 AM and any other person who have posted similarly and who I may have forgotten to mention.

My purpose for posting in this thread is to specifically comment for the record on those statements which refer to followers of "voodoo" wearing white paint. Comments have been posted on this thread can by represented by such quotes as "I'm no racist - far from it, but if we carry this to its logical conclusion, then what about the Voodoo tradition where you'll see people 'whitened' up. Am I not able to complain that this may well offend me, and many others? [quoting Banjiman] I'd add that Voodoo witches whited-up for disguise long before they had ever seen a white-skinned person. They weren't doing it to deride and take the p**s out of white folk" (Royston 29 Jun 09 - 03:29 PM) and "My assumption would be that whiteface in voodoo is intended to call a bleached skull to mind." (Richard Bridge 30 Jun 09 - 03:45 AM).

To provide context, if not credibility, to my comments, let me say that I have long had an interest in and have done considerable reading about the traditional cultures/religions of the Yoruba people (Nigeria, West Africa) and the Benin people (West Africa) that have come to be known as "voodoo". Furthermore, I count among my friends and acquaintances African Americans who are members of a small Yoruba religious community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in Washington, DC area, in Hew York, New York, and in the state of Florida. As such I have talked with these people about their religion which is traditionally known as orisha vodu. I have also read books about their religious beliefs that they have told me about or have shared with me and I have attended informal gatherings in their homes which include some aspects of their religious celebrations/customs. Furthermore, I have had occasion to talk about orisa vodu religious beliefs/customs with some Yoruba people who were born and raised in Nigeria, West Africa. And I have continued my reading about the culture of orisa vodu online. Briefly, I would strongly state my opinion that traditional Africans wearing white coloring on their faces or on other parts of their bodies has nothing what so ever to do with White people ("white" skin color). Nor does traditional Africans wearing white coloring on their face or on other parts of body have anything to do with "a bleached skull"-though from what I've read, tit's correct to say that in most traditional African cultures the the color white (representing ashes) symbolizes death, that is to say that part of the world that is inhabited by the Supreme Deity and the forces that He or She or He/She rules and the control over specific parts of nature/life and ppower/energy (ase pronounced "ashay") that has delegated by that Supreme God to those lesser gods [Traditional African religions are very much like the Greek/Roman religions with their pantheon of gods]. For those who truly are interested in the significance of colors in traditional orisa vodu religion, visit this website http://www.orishanet.org/ocha.html

Here is two excerpts from that website:

"Elegguá is the owner of the roads and doors in this world. He is the repository of ashé. The colors red and black or white and black are his and codify his contradictory nature. In particular, Elegguá stands at the crossroads of the human and the divine, as he is child-like messenger between the two worlds. In this role, it is not surprising that he has a very close relationship with the orisha of divination, Orunmila. Nothing can be done in either world without his permission. Elegguá is always propitiated and called first before any other orisha as he opens the door between the worlds and opens our roads in life. He recognises himself and is recognised by the numbers 3 and 21."

"Obatalá is the kindly father of all the orishas and all humanity. He is also the owner of all heads and the mind. Though it was Olorun who created the universe, it is Obatalá who is the creator of the world and humanity. Obatalá is the source of all that is pure, wise peaceful and compassionate. He has a warrior side though through which he enforces justice in the world. His color is white which is often accented with red, purple and other colors to represent his/her different paths. White is most appropriate for Obatalá as it contains all the colors of the rainbow yet is above them. Obatalá is also the only orisha that has both male and female paths.


-snip-

[Italics added by me to highlight that portion of the comment]

There are numerous other such websites that about traditional African cultures and color symbolism that can be found through search engines. For instance, those who are truly interested in the subject of color symbolism and traditional African religions can read about the Akan (Ashanti; Ghana, West Africa) cultures and the significance of consecrating the golden stool and other ancestor stools with ashes. Here is one of many online websites that provide information about the symbolism of these 'pieces of furniture" http://www.marshall.edu/akanart/AKANADWA.HTML

Traditionally in African cultures (and I dare say in other traditional cultures) ashes smeared on the face and skin was much more likely to be linked to beliefs in and honoring/evoking ancestors/deity/spirits than a disguise-unless by "disguise" one means masking (masquerading) representing (and/or becoming one with) that specific ancestor/deity/spirit.

Lastly*, I would like to note that what is generally "known" about the practices of "voodoo" in the United States and in Haiti are largely Hollywood constructs which aren't based upon traditional African beliefs. I don't mean to imply that the actual practices of "voodoo" religion in the United States, Haiti, and elsewhere in this hemisphere wasn't at all based on traditional beliefs which recognized the meanings of colors in relation to forces of nature/deities/orisas. It's just to say that Hollywood movies and other mainstream media did not/do not accurately depict these cultures and their beliefs/customs.

* I say "lastly" in part because this is my last comment on this thread. As I mentioned in my beginning comment to this post, I am posting this for the record as some here may be interested in the historical/traditional significance of the color white and other colors wore on the faces (and in clothing) by traditional Africans.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 06:41 AM

"Nigger Minstrelsy" as an authentic strand of theatrical entertainment stems from US C19 impersonation of blacks (stereotypically "Jim Crow") by white actors during intervals and from black banjo-playing street musicians. To this day there are hordes of deadly serious (and jolly good) banjo players of all colours who travel to conventions to play "nigger tunes" and defend the right to call them that because that is what black slave-descendant players call them. It is a definitive musical genre.

In England, "blacking up" has long been a feature of downtrodden workers demanding money (with or without obvious menaces) as a reward for musical entertainment particularly at slack times (c.f. Plough Monday) and in disguise so that the bosses didn't "blacklist'" them from employment when work again became available and the farmer turned to the latest wave of immigrant workers because they were cheaper.

Neither minstrelsy nor surreptitious street begging is acceptable nor PC in these "enlightened" times. But along with many another practice, they are features of traditions which alter constantly because that's what traditions do. Border Morris is particularly hybrid and this is a reason to examine its component antecedents, not to deny that certain elements do not (or may not) exist.

You do not, after all, ban historical songs about slavery, whaling or swashbuckling imperialism just because (unless Icelandic or Japanese) you no longer support these activities. You place them in context.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 06:43 AM

Azizi.... please can you attribute more carefully.

This is not a quote from me.

"I'm no racist - far from it, but if we carry this to its logical conclusion, then what about the Voodoo tradition where you'll see people 'whitened' up. Am I not able to complain that this may well offend me, and many others? [quoting Banjiman] "

I was actually quoting Barden of England..... I added to his quote:

"But does it offend you? If so perhaps you could ask for voodoo (with whitened faces) not to be performed at your local school? Assuming they had some planned that is.

I repeat, can you really not see why someone might be offended by "blacking up" .... whatever the motives and the particlar history of the Border Morris tradition? I can."

Which should tell you about my views on the subject!

Thanks

Paul


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 06:55 AM

Put yourself in the shoes of someone black and then consider if you might be offended by the "blacking up".

I have and I would not. I would probably be offended by someone blacking up with big pale lips and a curly wig or singing 'De Camptown Races' in a comedic african accent. But then again I may just find the whole thing so ludicrous that I could ignore it. Point is that there is a disctinct difference between blacking up for tradition and blacking up to take the piss. Those that cannot or will not see that are being obtuse.

Royston - The reference to 'niggering; by Clee Hill. That was the language of the day. Much like Guy Gibsons dog was called Nigger because he was a black labrador. (Dam Busters) Neither were racial slurs as it was not considered in those days. Maybe it should have been but it was not. Give me some evidence of the same attitude today and your argument may hold water.

Having said all that we performed our pace egg play on Saturday night without blacking up. For other reasons. I must say it was an awful lot easier. Especialy at the end of the night when I did not have to spend an hour removing black paint before I went to bed! Anyone who would go to all that trouble just to cause offense must be short of the full shilling anyway. There are much easier ways to give offence:-)

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Thomas Slye
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 07:06 AM

I've been following this one for a while and here are a few points that struck me.

1. "Anyone reading your letter who has already decided that blackface is racist will simply conclude that traditional English culture is racist, and to hell with it. "Why not ours?" Putting myself in that head-teacher's shoes for a moment, that's not a difficult question to answer at all: because "we" are the inheritors of a history of oppression; Britannia didn't just rule the waves, she ruled millions of people with naturally dark faces, and didn't always do a good job of it."
Hold on. The same people who were running the sugar plantations were sending my ancestors down the pit. English culture does not equal ruling class culture.


2. The reference to Clee Hill "niggering" is a quote from a contemptorary source. it's what the Clee Hill dancers called themsleves at the time the information was collected. That's not quite the same as dancers today calling what they do "niggering". The website, I admit, is not as clear as it might be on this point. It does raise questions about the origins of blackface and the influence of minstrelsy, such as are already being discussed, but not about what border dancers do or think today.


3. I belong to a side which uses red make up, because that is what dancers in Leicestershire used (originally sheep raddle). Am I then to change this for fear of offending native Americans? Or would it be an insult to them to change it, because that would imply that I saw them as having red skin? Wouldn't that be incredibly insulting? I've never seen anyone with red skin. Wait a minute, I've never seen anyone with black skin either, or white skin, or yellow skin.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 07:19 AM

Thank you Azizi for your information about the relevant African beliefs.

With respect, Ruth, you do not seem to be getting what I see as being the crux of the matter.

THere is as yet no conclusive proof that blacking up was not and never has been racist. It is of course very hard to prove a negative.

But also although there are some indications that at some stages blacking up might (that's not "did", it's "might") have reflected the depiction of "nigger minstrels", no-one has yet provided proof that that was the origin (and therefore the traditional aspect of) "blacking up".

It is quite puzzling to me to think that if John Kirkpatrick invented border morris he would have incorporated in it a racist habit. If he didn't invent it then we are looking further back in time.

If he did invent it, it now looks to me as if he adopted some Anglian molly moves. Surely it is also so that Anglian molly does have a blackface tradition that, if it was "degenerate" by Sharp's time, is likely to predate "nigger minstrel" shows.

If that is the case, then there would seem to be a plausible timeline from a non-racist origin of blackface dance to present border morris.

Conversely, if there is a guised border tradition then the indications above in this thread are that other coloured guisings existed, so the proponents of the theory that blackface border is racist should be able to show a change from other colours to blackface during theminstrel period.

By way of contrast, research should (if border blackface is traditional) show a border blackface tradition before the "nigger mistrel" period.



There was a rock soundman in Nottingham I once much admired for his repartee. He was aquiline of feature and could easily have been assumed to be descended from the Indian continent. In fact his parents were I think one carribean and one white english. One day a thug was most unpleasant, calling him a "fucking paki". He got the reply "I'm not a fucking paki, I'm a fucking nigger and you're a fucking idiot".


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 07:55 AM

I belong to a side which uses red make up, because that is what dancers in Leicestershire used (originally sheep raddle). Am I then to change this for fear of offending native Americans?

Don't be fatuous. There is neither accusation nor evidence that red-face disguise was taking the piss out of Native Americans, it is clearly a genuine medium for disguise and we all know it. There is however accusation and supporting evidence that black-face is/was associated with mocking black folk. Those concerned about blackface are advocating the use of other colours, like red, as equally/more authentic and entirely uncontroversial.

This is not the sixth form debating society, so don't start on the "what is black/red/yellow skin" nonsense. We are debating minstrelsy and related racist behaviours and we all know what we mean by "black" in that context.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 08:03 AM

Minstrelsy dates from the 1860s, so considerably pre-dates Sharp.
Anyway, times change. Guy Gibson did call his dog 'Nigger', and my grandmother would take of 'nigger brown' paint, but that is unacceptable today. Just as it is unacceptable to call a Jew a 'yid', or to call a Catholic a 'a Romish whore' or a chinese man a 'chink' or...
But you get the picture I hope.
Times change, and a largely re-invented 'tradition' like border morris should similarly be open to change. To cling on to an ersatz 'tradition' is stupidly stubborn at best and downright offensive at worst.
An to those who whinge on about political correctness, tough shit if it means you actually have to engage your brains before opening your mouths. If it's PC to stop using words like nigger, yid, poof, paki, pikey, queer, darkie, spaz, coon, jewboy, mick or whatever, then praise be for PC.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 08:11 AM

"Neither minstrelsy nor surreptitious street begging is acceptable nor PC in these "enlightened" times. But along with many another practice, they are features of traditions which alter constantly because that's what traditions do. Border Morris is particularly hybrid and this is a reason to examine its component antecedents, not to deny that certain elements do not (or may not) exist.

You do not, after all, ban historical songs about slavery, whaling or swashbuckling imperialism just because (unless Icelandic or Japanese) you no longer support these activities. You place them in context."


I agree. I think the thing that has always stuck in my craw about this issue is the steadfast and robust denial by many of its pracititioners that it might have had anything, at all, ever, on any level, to do with a tradition which parodied black people. They won't respond to the evidence. They are often extremely defensive. They would prefer not to interrogate their cutstom because they don't want to change it. I reckon if you're going to do it, own it. All of it. That means not being afraid of its history.


I have to confess, I was going to avoid this thread as I feel we've discussed the issue into the ground in the past and it is quite contentious. But when I saw that people were being encouraged to send e-mails to the already beleaguered and stretched staff of a school who are only trying to be sensitive to their community (which I daresay they know better than we do), I was appalled. When I saw the aggressive tone of some of the e-mails that have been sent, which will be interpreted as representing the views of the morris community, I was even more so. What's more, the e-mails to the school which purport to speak authoritatively on the origins of border morris and blacking up, and to defend it as an ancient tradition, are somewhat more ill-informed and wrong-headed than the school's decision not to host a potentially divisive performance.

I don't feel that this somewhat OTT response did our tradition any favours.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,EricTheOrange
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 08:12 AM

>Put yourself in the shoes of someone black and then consider if you might be offended by the "blacking up".

How wonderfully patronizing. How can anybody not black imagine what growing up in a mainly white country is like and assume what they would feel?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Dazbo at work
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 08:21 AM

A few points:

On disguise, having seen many shades of face paint used by far the most effective is black (on white skin). If you really want diguise then the colour should be as different as possible from your skin.

So there was black face prior to the minstrel craze in the 19thC? So, whilst minstrelsey undoubtedly has influenced morris (as has classical music, music hall, rock and roll and for all I know punch and judy) it is not THE source of black face. So how much the black face was (or was not) about demeaning black people earlier than minstrelsey is not known.

It seems to me that many people's statements in this thread are based on guess work, their own (possibly biased) opinions*, possibly dodgy oral histories, and historical documents that may be truthful and accurate, or may not, but all leave huge gaps in our knowledge of what went on and the motivations behind it.




!!!Trollish Alert!!! As the lead musician for a border team (using silver, various blues and black face paint me) I can't help but think: if morris is descended from morrisco, that is ultimately from the Moors of northern Africa and southern Spain. Is not morris in its entirity a piss take on North Africans?





*yes, myself included


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 08:22 AM

The original Border sides were out of work labourers only dancing in the winter when they were laid off work.
They danced to raise money (begging), this was illegal so they blacked their faces with soot, burnt cork or coal dust to disguise their faces.They wore fancy dress, some wore women's clothes, old military uniforms, rag and tatter coats & their work boots, trousers, bells, ribbons and hats etc. Each side had their own distinctive kit.
Black Jack Morris wear hand torn rag coats, each individual decides their own colour scheme.
Heavy black work boots.
Black trousers and black shirt.
Black top hat with pheasant feathers and Blackjack playing cards,, most memebrs also personalise their top hat with badges, beer mats, ribbons etc.
Coloured neckerchief.
Coloured braces.
Bells around the knees.
Wallpaper under the bells.
Black fingerless gloves.
Blackened faces.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Azizi
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 08:27 AM

I am very sorry for misattributing Banjiman's quote of Barden of England's comment to you.

I should have been more careful in attributing comments. I recognize that you (Banjiman) are saying that you understands how "blacking up" can cause offense.

I hope that you wIll accept my apology. If I could edit my comment to this thread which attributed Barden of England's comment to you, I would do so.

**


[This is the only reason that I posted on this thread again and will not comment on other points in this thread including the posts about the "N' word-my views about that word are probably also known to many in this forum so there's no need for me to expend energy repeating them.]


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 08:29 AM

I don't like this modern use of the word "ownership" and cognate expressions.

Many here are assuming that the fact (if it is a fact) that some aspects of border morris adopted some aspects of minstrelsy (which is not compatible with John KirkPatrick having invented border morris) demonstrates that all blackface morris is tainted by the racism inherent in minstrelsy.

That is a non-sequitur.

And if Anglian molly was already "degenerate" when Sharp dismissed it then the fact (if it be correct) that minstrelsy started in about 1860 does not mean that minstrelsy predated blacking up in Anglian molly.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 08:32 AM

">Put yourself in the shoes of someone black and then consider if you might be offended by the "blacking up".

"How wonderfully patronizing."

Perhaps, but not intended to be. Maybe you could draw an analogy with those "blacking up" and not intending to be offensive?


"How can anybody not black imagine what growing up in a mainly white country is like and assume what they would feel?"

I think it is usually called empathy. You're quite right though, I can't know exactly, but I can try to imagine. I think you probably could as well if you wanted to.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 08:39 AM

Azizi, no problem.

It was an honest mistake. Thanks for correcting though.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 08:44 AM

When I started playing for my local border side the musicians were expected to wear blackface, even though the dancers wore black and white. I wasn't happy with that, and felt extremely uncomfortable doing so.
It may have taken more faffing around to do black and white brushwork, rather than a quick wipe over with a black sponge, but I felt a lot more comfortable about doing it. At the time I thought to myself "How would I attempt to justify this if i cam face-to-face with a black guy in the pub afterwards and he asked me why I blacked up?". I couldn't, in all honesty, not mention the connection with minstrelsy among the other connotations of blacking up.
There you go, Eric the Orange, you can now empathise with me, a white man who was not happy about putting on a black face. Oh, and hats off to a side that was prepared, horror of horrors, to change a 20-year-old 'tradition'.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 08:48 AM

Can I make it clear that I did NOT say John Kirkpatrick had invented Border Morris. he just invented the Shropshire Bedlams style and dances. There were other sides emerging in the mid 70s with different styles and dances, although bedlams have had the most influence.
Derek


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:00 AM

"The original Border sides were out of work labourers only dancing in the winter when they were laid off work.
They danced to raise money (begging), this was illegal so they blacked their faces with soot, burnt cork or coal dust to disguise their faces.They wore fancy dress, some wore women's clothes, old military uniforms, rag and tatter coats & their work boots, trousers, bells, ribbons and hats etc. Each side had their own distinctive kit."

Villain, can you provide your sources for this, please?


"So there was black face prior to the minstrel craze in the 19thC?"

With regard to border morris, there doesn't seem to be any evidence that this was the case. Certainly when Sharp was writing about morris dance in 1912, and talked about the sides in certain parts of the country, he said that dances where faces were blacked would be called a "nigger dance". He also refuted the Moorish-Morisco theory.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,baz parkes
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:00 AM

Quoting Dazboat work " can't help but think: if morris is descended from morrisco, that is ultimately from the Moors of northern Africa and southern Spain. Is not morris in its entirity a piss take on North Africans?"

I wasn't going to fan the flames but...(and can't remember if I've told this here before... some years ago the Ironmen had the priviledge of dancing in the Basque country.Unlike most of the other government sponsored, teams, and like the English, the Basques were used to dancing in the street.On the finaldayof our tour we danced in a street procession. The Basques brought out a giant jig doll (for want of a better word). And the relevance? Tatter jacket,Black face, ribbons and feathers in battered hat, called a "Moresco". I've been less sceptical ever since.

Quoting Richard summarising others "It is quite puzzling to me to think that if John Kirkpatrick invented border morris ". With all due respect to John K. I think "popularised" rather than invented. Silurian had been dancing the Border tradition under the guidance of Dave Jones for quite a while before the formation of the Bedlams,Ironmenor countless other border sides.

Baz


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:05 AM

Yes, quite. It was I who said JKP "invented" it in a bid to prove that he actually did stuff in the daytime. This was intended to be read ironically in conjunction with the piece on the Shropshire Bedlams history I linked to. Obviously a complete failure and entirely my fault for assuming some people on Mudcat would be arsed to actually look and learn.

I was just conversing with a Well Known Morris person who made the point about blacking up for guising far more clearly than I did in my previous post. It's today's equivalent of the strikers at the Total refinery ... if you're campaigning, busking or even begging outside your own employer, you'd want to be wearing a hoodie & baseball hat.

Endless emails from those who get up on their hind legs about such things will simply reinforce to the school that they made, for them, the correct decision, when actually they missed the chance to get a group of blokes to entertain the crowds that evening.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Barden of England
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:06 AM

I'm sorry Azizi, I really didn't, and don't, mean to offend. If I did in any way then I unreservedly apologise. I found your post of 30 Jun 09 - 06:23 AM most enlightening and interesting too.
John Barden


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:11 AM

To continue to deny any element of minstrelsy in the border dance tradition does seem to fly in the face of the evidence.

From Andy Anderson's comprehensive account of border morris ,a href="http://dialspace.dial.pipex.com/town/avenue/pd49/">here,:

One tune that was used regularly is 'Not for Joe', or 'Om Si the Gom Si'. This started life as a 'nigger minstrel' song and either took its folk name from, or gave the name to, a particular style of Border Morris Dancing. Some of the versions of the words for this song would be considered mildly obscene even today and it is not surprising that the collectors did not print them, although they often recorded them in manuscript.

There's also this from E.C.Cawte's manuscript of collecting trip in Ludlow in May 1957:

Bill Fury (58, Hollybush Milkbar)
Boys aged c.12-7. Wearing women's clothes and with black faces, used to go about on Boxing Day doing a "Nigger Dance" or "Morris Dance". (I question the latter title, because when I first asked him about morris he knew nothing of a local team). Dance consisted of turning each other with linked arms, and hitting sticks together. Had a musician and sang songs while dancing, the only one he remembered was "So Early in the Morning".
His father started a team of "Nigger Minstrels" with his sons, for 6 years up to 1920, "to show the boys how to do it". Included hit songs, and step dancing, and a dance in which they "went round, and hit their sticks at the end, one held his stick out, and then they changed over". This also was done on Boxing Day. Wore small top hats, big bow ties, tail coats, and striped clown's trousers, and father wore a mortar board. Black faces. Had concertina, (father), bones, tambourine, and guitar (B.F.)


And in Aston-on-Clun the same month:

Ivor Meredith (est. 30) & village blacksmith (est.45)
No knowledge of morris dancing. On mention of niggering at once said they knew it very well. Continued until 1938, at Christmas. Last leader was Arthur Canty, "a proper fool he was... you know, a clever fool". (I.M.)
Went about in fancy clothes, with black faces, playing fiddle melodeon, and mouth organ, singing songs and carols. They jigged about a bit, but there was no dance, and no stick hitting.


And in Onibury:

Onibury, 27.v.57
Man of about 70
There have been no resident morris dancers for the last 60 years. Remembered men going niggering at Christmas; black faces, fancy dress, someone played melodeon, and they sang songs. Someone carried 2 sticks (on direct question), but neither direct question nor direct suggestion would elicit anything resembling the 'Westwood' performance.


And these are the words for 'Not for Joe':
NOT FOR JOE

Humdidi, dumdidi, toorah loorah,
Humdidi, dumdidi, toorah ley,
Humdidi, dumdidi, toorah loorah,
Play it on my old banjo.

1. We had a little nigger,
And he grew no bigger,
So we put him in the Wild West Show.
He fell through a winder,
And he bloke his little finger,
And he couldn't play his old banjo.

Toorah loorah lilo,
Toorah loorah lilo,
Toorah loorah lilo,
Play it on my old banjo.

Humdidi, dumdidi, toorah loorah,
Humdidi, dumdidi, toorah ley,
Humdidi, dumdidi, toorah loorah,
Play it on my old banjo.

2. My uncle Billy,
Had a ten foot willie,
And he showed it to the girl next door.
She thought it was a snake,
So she hit it with a rake,
And now it's only five foot four!

Toorah loorah lilo,
Toorah loorah lilo,
Toorah loorah lilo,
Play it on my old banjo.

Humdidi, dumdidi, toorah loorah,
Humdidi, dumdidi, toorah ley,
Humdidi, dumdidi, toorah loorah,
Play it on my old banjo.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:13 AM

I really do not see why so many assume that blacking-up is racist; perhaps someone can explain - and this is a serious question.

I would also ask why it is assumed that black people seeing such a thing would assume some racist intent - and please don't talk about "minstrelsey" because most people I know black, white or whatever, have never heard of the word.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:15 AM

There you go Ruth

http://www.agequipment.co.uk/blackjack/history.html

Please bear in mind, I am not getting involved in this discussion anymore, but if I can find reference to the origins, I will.

I felt this explanation is one of the best I have seen, in defence of border morris men blacking up.

Its obviously open to discussion for those who want or will tear it apart. I am not here to pass judgement. Thats up to you.

Les


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:16 AM

So there we seem to have it. The usually well informed Borchester Echo seems to say that blackface was disguise. The usually well informed Ruth Archer says it was not.

No-one comments on Anglian molly blackface.

Some say that there was a blackface border tradition predating minstrelsy. Some say there wasn't.

Hmm, I'm much clearer now.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:17 AM

It depends on your age. The black comedian Lenny Henry had his first televised gig on a programme called 'the black and white minstrel show'. It was a troupe of white singers with blacked up faces singing barber-shop and 'minstrel' songs.
Henry recalls it as an excruciating experience - and one for which he now feels great shame, and to this day he apologies for appearing.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:24 AM

Here's Lenny Henry's own take on his time with the Black and white Minstrels - he was a teenaged winner of a TV talent show and desperate for professional work:
I also signed up to do the club tour of the Black and White Minstrels Show. The reasons are very complicated...
Now at the time, the Black and Whites were a huge phenomenon on British television. Multiple award winners, the stage show had run at the Victoria Palace for 20 some odd years, this was a big success story. Yes a few people, like the Race Relations Board, complained about the racist problem at its heart, but generally people enjoyed the costumes and the old songs and generally ignored the blacked up faces...
I think by 79 – I'd had enough. The jokes were boring – 'And now the only one of 'em who doesn't need make up', 'when Lenny cries he gets little white lines crawling down his face', etc. I partook in these jokes because I didn't really know any better; It hurts thinking about it now. I think the term 'ill advised' could be bandied about here.

The full story is on his own website.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:27 AM

Whether Border sides black-up through tradition or not (and I think it is fashion not tradition) is not really the point. The point seems to be that it is considered "racist" at worst or "not nice" at best.

I am old enough to remember watching and enjoying the Black and White Minstrels; I see no reason to apologise for that retrospectively.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:28 AM

But what is the source of the information, Villain? It isn't attributed. Because it says so on a morris website doesn't make it true. There are Bacup dancers who will tell you their dance came from Cornwall - that doesn't make it true. There's an awful lot of fakelore about.

Richard, the problem is that lots of things get conflated. Does the fact that blacking up might have been used in some parts of the country as a form of disguise in certain plays and rituals have a bearing on how its use was, and is, interpreted in border morris? Does the distinct evidence which links border morris with minstrelsy consequently taint the blacking up within that particular custom?

I feel quite convinced from what I've read and the conversations I've had with people who have done a lot of research into morris history that there is a connection. If you remain to be convinced, that's fine. But getting back to the original point of this thread, I'm still very uncomfortable with the fact that people armed with little more than fakelore, half-truths and a whole lot of defensiveness and righteous indignation saw fit to approach this school directly and take them to task over the decision they made.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:38 AM

Ruth
Its VILLAN not VILLAIN

In answer to yourt question.

Why don't you get in touch with them and ask them. You obviously seem to be an authority on it. Prove that they are wrong. Then come back and tell me.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Vic Smith
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:39 AM

This has been well-argued and a wide variety of interesting points have been raised. To my mind this is the sort of discussion that Mudcat should exist for and not the mud-slinging and insults that have characterised some recent threads.

We have a real dilemma here -

>        We are upholders of the tradition and want to see it maintained
>        We do not want to see minority groups offended.

Sadly there is no easy answer to this but the feeling remains that the matter of blacking up needs to be treated with sensitivity. Perhaps at black-faced morris stands, the foreman or whover should be announcing the "disguise" reasons for blacking up and disassociating the team from any racist implications of their actions.

I certainly feel sorry for the dilemma faced by the headteacher of the school in question who is quoted in today's The Guardian today as saying We found ourselves weighing up any potential offence versus not wishing to compromise the morris dancers' tradition. It's a 'damned it we do, damned if we don't scenario'."

My experience in explaining blacking-up to an African friend has been cited in this thread and I would like to broaden this worthwhile discussion but giving another of my experiences –

At our folk club last year, a very popular local singer, the person who started the first folk club in Lewes back in the mid '60s, did a floor spot and sung his lovely version of the ballad The Jew's Garden or Little Sir Hugh as he has done on quite a number of occasions in the past. Well, there was no negative reaction at the time, but a few days later something appeared on the weblog of one of our very articulate regulars who happens to be Jewish. In his blog he wondered if this ballad should still be sung in this day and age and if the organiser and compere (in other words, me) should have allowed this ballad to have been sung. I must admit that I have never discussed this with the person who posted this on his blog – but this does not mean that I have not thought long and hard about it. Here are a series of my reflections on it.

•        Should a MC at a folk club try to vet the material to be presented at the club? No, this would be impractical, though as a compere, I would certainly inform a performer if anything that was performed made me feel uncomfortable in any way. This has happened on a few occasions over the decades.
•        Is the ballad in question not to be performed any more because it is anti-semetic? Well, we would have to be consistent and ban the likes of Lord Bateman as being anti-Turkish and possibly anti-Muslim, Prince Heathen for being misogynist and so on and so on. We could not have any Mummer's Plays with the dreaded Turkish Knight and looking beyond the tradition, we would have to have a serious look at much of Shakespeare, for example, however much Al Pacino tried to make Shylock look a sympathetic figure in the 2004 film of The Merchant of Venice.
•        Should an attempt be made to "contextualise" a potentially difficult piece like Little Sir Hugh? Yes.
•        Should singers look at their repertoire that they have been singing for years and root out material that is no longer considered suitable? Well, I know that I have done this. I know that it is only intended as a gentle piece of fun, but I no longer sing, for example, Willie Scott's There's Bound To Be A Row because I felt a bit unhappy about the attitude towards the wife. Another way is to make a slight alteration in words of a song. An example of this would be one that my wife, Tina, sings - A Pretty Young Girl All In The Month of May where the father is furious on finding that his unwed daughter has had a child and asks her a question. Tina has inserted the word in brackets into the way she sings it now – which to my mind also brings out the intended meaning. The father asks:-
Oh, was it to a black (haired) man or was it to a brown?

I would be interested in reading any responses to this.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:44 AM

More, this time from Roy Dommet's paper for the Roots of Border Morris conference, organised by the Morris Federation at West Malvern on 29th February 1992:

The Nigger Minstrel character was created in the early 19th century and was extremely popular as an entertainment for the masses in the UK from the mid 19th century to the start of WW1. It soon became a folk entertainment and replaced or followed the mummers in many places up till WW11, being at its most popular in the 1920's. The show was easy to put on, it had a simple formal structure built around individual rather than group skills, and was easily mobile. It needed a leader and end-men and used songs, solo dances and simple skits. Without more research, it is not clear whether Minstrels were acceptable because they picked up elements of existing Christmas traditions like the morris or if the Border groups had gathered attributes from the Minstrels. There are references to the troupes singing and stepping.

Colouring the face introduce problems. When it is all over or nearly so can be quite frightening to children. Why do people find it disturbing? Clowns have patterned faces. Blacking up can also be seen as racist and some clubs have had difficulties with their local police, hence a number of non-black colour choices.


As a complete aside, Dooley Wilson, of As Time Goes By, Casablanca fame, was born Arthur Wilson but nicknamed Dooley because he used to perform Irish songs in whiteface make-up.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:47 AM

I really do not see why so many assume that blacking-up is racist;

I really do not see... anyone on this thread who is assuming that blacking-up is racist. On the contrary, it's easy to demonstrate that blacking-up isn't necessarily racist, hasn't always been racist and isn't always racist.

But that's really not the point. The question is what we do about people who - however mistakenly - see it as racist. I don't think it would be any sacrifice to mask using a different colour. Or (my preference, not that it matters) give up masking - to most punters the cricket-whites-and-ankle-bells style looks a lot more 'traditional', let's face it.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:51 AM

Vic, I think that is an excellent post. You are right this is a worthwhile discussion and has for the most part remained civilised.

To my mind, context is all. When singing a song in a folk club you have the luxury of being able to contextualise the lyrics. Even then some juicious pruning of especially offensive phrases/ words is probably wise, again probably with an explanation beforehand.

The image of a "blacked up" Morris/ Molly dancer on a photograph or seen on the street cannot be put in context so easily for those who casually come across it. This to me is the root of the issue.

The "what is the tradition" debate is interesting but to me misses the point..... it is the imagery that could cause offence, whatever the history.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Thomas Slye
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 10:12 AM

Royston wrote:
"Don't be fatuous. There is neither accusation nor evidence that red-face disguise was taking the piss out of Native Americans, it is clearly a genuine medium for disguise and we all know it."

Not fatuous. That's exactly my point.

He continues:
"Those concerned about blackface are advocating the use of other colours, like red, as equally/more authentic and entirely uncontroversial."

But red is not uncontroversial. It may well be (indeed is) that there was no intention originally to mock native Americans. However, I would be very surprised indeed to find a morris side in the USA or Canada using solid red make up; I think they would be uncomfortable about doing so. And what about those redfaced morris dancers I have seeen wearing feathers in their hats arranged somthing like a native American headdress? Intentional or not? In the mind of the dancer or in the eye of the beholder?


Royston also writes:
"This is not the sixth form debating society, so don't start on the "what is black/red/yellow skin" nonsense. We are debating minstrelsy and related racist behaviours and we all know what we mean by "black" in that context"

Black make up is not the same colour as anyone's skin - likewise red make up, yellow make up, white make up. So we have at least two different meanings for "black" in this context. The colour black is just a colour, as is the colour red. If I paint my face black, I don't look like anyone who has ever lived. Likewise if I paint my face red. Intentions and perceptions are what make the use of a colour racist or not.

By introducing red, I was attempting to show that the question is not simply about black make up. There never have been any red minstrels, but that doesn't mean that there never will be a problem with redface.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 10:18 AM

Sorry, Guest, but it's best to do a bit of research first. Yellowface and redface minstrel traditions were common in vaudeville, and as for whiteface, see my remarks on Dooley Wilson earlier.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Thomas Slye
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 10:21 AM

Heigh-ho Gervase Webb.

It's a fair cop. But if anything it reinforces my point.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 11:13 AM

I'm not sure that saying that "it is the perception" is anything but a cop-out. If the perception is based on misinformation or ignorance then we should not accept it as valid.

The fundamental issue is whether blackface dance was traditionally a matter of guising, or a matter of mocking reference to skin colour. I am inclined to one view - based on what I think is the accepted view of Angliam molly. You are inclined, Ruth, to another.

But the school did not have that debate, and it may be that today's Guardian is somewhat revisionist. I have seen no suggestion anywhere, yet, that the school did go through the debate, least of all with Motley Morris, who it had already (I think) contracted. The school made, it seems, a kneejerk reaction based on PC considerations, and is now spinning in the best New Labour traditions.

The analogy with "Little Sir Hugh" does not really illuminate, because in that case we know both that the song is traditional (whereas we are still debating whether blackface dance is) and that there is no possibly explanation other than racism (whereas we are still debating whether that is so for blackface dance).


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Rick H
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 11:45 AM

I am a Motley Dancer and Gravesend resident.
Just to add some background info for those who don't know about Gravesend. It has a huge established Sikh community (>30%) who are fantastically tolerant, thoughtful, caring people very keen to integrate into the community. They do this very succesfully. Unfortunately it also has a large Chav/Pikey community and has recently started getting alot of Eastern Europeans and a few Afro Caribbean residents.

It may well be that the community at that particular school is 'fragile' as the head states.

It doesn't stop it being very annoying though.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 12:33 PM

If you want to continue this long knock about argument I guess you will.

If you want to understand the origins and evolution of "Border Morris" plenty of historic and scholarly evidence has been posted above.

I simply ask people to consider the evidence and think about what other people think about white people 'blacking up'.

Two things are beyond doubt:
1. Some of us are uneasy and some of us are offended
2. "Border Morris" sides have been willing to change almost anything and they have created a very exciting version of The Morris.

Best wishes

L in C


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 12:40 PM

"Unfortunately it also has a large Chav/Pikey community and has recently started getting alot of Eastern Europeans and a few Afro Caribbean residents."

Shame not all Gravesend residents are as tolerant as their sikh neighbours, eh, Rick?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 12:53 PM

RickH - I have lived near Gravesend since the early 1960s and you are right that it has been a successfully integrating community - from the days of Pier Road, through the crash helmet riots, to (I think) the country's first Sikh mayor and to date. That is one reason why the apparently kneejerk reaction of the Chantry school is disappointing - but as you also know the Milton and Denton region is iffy in bits. I live a bit further away now but I don't see the more recently integrating communities as more difficult - although I have heard some bad stories about eastern europeans and there was the running knife fight on Gravesend station between rival east european gangs last year or the year before.

Les, you persist in blurring things. The point is to consider the evidence. You have provided one quote using the word "niggering", and have not provided its source, only a place where it appeared.

Let us get to the bottom of the facts.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 01:01 PM

Cecil Sharp used the word "niggering" in 1912.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Marje
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 01:13 PM

Gervase, thanks for that really interesting post with the quote about the roots of Border Morris. I can quite imagine that there could have been an overlap and exchange of ideas between the "Nigger Minstrel" shows and the Morris in Britain. I'm old enough to remember how, in my childhood, it was perfectly OK to use the word "nigger" in the UK and to watch the Black and White Minstrel Show on Saturday nights (it bored me rigid, but each to his own...). I even remember when my brother was in a local choir putting on a show in the late 1950s, the kids did a "minstrel" medley for which they blacked up (well, the boys did, For some reason the women in these shows were always white, not blacked-up, at least in the UK). There was a sort of innocence about it - many of us had never seen a black-skinned person. But that was then, this is now.

So I'm increasingly coming round to the view, reading all that's gone before, that it would make more sense for Border groups to avoid complete blacking-up, in order to ensure that there was no hint of imitiation of black people. Plenty of sides already use masks, or different coloured face paint, or a painted-on pattern that doesn't resemble anyone's natural complexion. It wouldn't take more than a bit of tweaking to avoid giving any offence. We're talking about a living, evolving tradition, and maybe it's time for a few small changes in some dance sides. Then we could all just enjoy the dancing and the spectacle without so much hassle.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 01:17 PM

How can the school seriously be expected to have a sensible discussion with;

a) most of you irate emailers

and

b) Motley Morris, one of whom just came to this place and said...

Unfortunately it also has a large Chav/Pikey community and has recently started getting alot of Eastern Europeans and a few Afro Caribbean residents.

I've had enough of this now. RickH, you're a fool. Anyone still inclined to try to and get some commonsense out of this, good luck!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 01:39 PM

Both "chav" and "pikey" are, in their not-very-distant origins, racist terms for Travellers.

Richard: Les, you persist in blurring things.

On the contrary, I think Les has made a couple of very clear and pertinent statements:

1. Some of us are uneasy and some of us are offended
2. "Border Morris" sides have been willing to change almost anything and they have created a very exciting version of The Morris.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 02:03 PM

"Pikey" has a very old origin, being derived from "turnpike" from the time they were first constructed and describes the travellers/tramps who walked along them. Not at all racist and not, until recently, derogatory.

"Chav" on the other hand, is quite recent and doesn't have "traveller" connotations at all. On the contrary, it describes an underclass that hangs out in Thames estuary housing estates and invades town centre pubs after dark, behaving mindlessly and noisily.

They do not, as groups, have a great deal in common nor a lot to do with the topic.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 02:16 PM

Pip, the view that the term "chav" is derived from the Romany "chavi" (= boy) is not universally held. "Pikey" denotes something different from Romany, too, and for some time was a term the Romany used to insult non-Romany travelling people.   

As to your defence of Les:

1. That is not the point. Are those of you correctly uneasy or offended?

2. So what?

Ruth, thank you for that information. Clearly the word then is (as a matter of timing) likely to derive from the reference to "nigger minstrel" shows. In today's context it should not be used. Does that unfortunate use illuminate whether the blacking up was a reflection of "nigger minstrel" shows, or a reflection of earlier guising?

It creates a suspicion. But suspicion is not enough. It still remains possible that blacking up predates such shows, and indeed it seems quite probable that it was present in Anglian molly before Sharp's relevant words and so quite possibly before common minstrelsy.

If it was not, then it can most probably only have arisen in response to minstrelsy and so is likely tainted.

So, I repeat, is there evidence of pre-minstrelsy blackface tradition either in East Anglia or the borders? I have always understood that there was.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 02:44 PM

This stuff is better than nightmares to keep me awake at night. I have been thinking about it a lot.

If guising was done predating minstrel shows, and the materials likely used were coal dust and/or burnt cork, how effective would those materials have been at covering the face? It seems to me, if it happened and those materials were used, the end result would have been streaking and smudging and not a full face cover. In which case, today's practice does not mimic a supposed or reported tradtional pre minstrel show history. It is a new creature with dodgy implications.

It also seems to me, whatever the history, that application of the "N" term (I can't use it either) to putting on guise has fouled the practice. Regardless of its purported inceptions and/or the intentions of the person(s) blacking up.

If this sounds like a recant - very good. It is.

I now vote for woad. But one will have to use vegetable shortening (consistency of lard) to apply it as bear grease offends a whole other set of people.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 02:56 PM

"If guising was done predating minstrel shows, and the materials likely used were coal dust and/or burnt cork, how effective would those materials have been at covering the face? It seems to me, if it happened and those materials were used, the end result would have been streaking and smudging and not a full face cover. In which case, today's practice does not mimic a supposed or reported tradtional pre minstrel show history."

Agreed. I raised a similar point earlier. Current stage paint, is not akin to a supposed 'sooty' face. If we feel the need for authenticity, then we aught to be following the principle of 'using what is to hand'. If we buy the guising theory of using readily available local materials to diguise the face - then the colour of whatever is used, is purely incidental to those found materials.

As Pip's repeatedly stated, the costume side of things is very different now, than a few mere decades ago (when likewise very few sides even used face paint). People have adapted their costumes to include items easily available to them, so no reason to not do same with other facial elements of the disguise - IMO.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 05:14 PM

I have emailed the Headmistress - I'll have none of this head teacher nonsense.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: melodeonboy
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 05:40 PM

Head Teacher? Luxury (in cod northern accent)!

I dream of the days when we had a head teacher. Ours is now called a "Principal" (ugh!)


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 05:53 PM

is it alright to cover the face in white disguise ?.
yes ,of course it is,we whities dont take offence.

immigrants coming to this country have to accept the traditions of England,that is part of integration,in the same way if I went to [for example] Venice,

I would have respect for the traditions and customs,I would not expect them to change their traditions,because someone was wearing a white Venetian mask


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 06:08 PM

"In today's context it should not be used. Does that unfortunate use illuminate whether the blacking up was a reflection of "nigger minstrel" shows, or a reflection of earlier guising?"

Sharp mentions blacking up, but as something that is uncommon at the time of writing and which is largely consigned to the past (though he makes it clear that his notions of it having been once widespread are conjecture). He also doesn't say how long ago this practice might have been common - and as minstrelsy had entered into British popular culture as much as 70 years before the time of writing, it is very difficult to say whether Sharp refers to a time within the past 70 years, or to an earlier time.

However, as Derek's article said, "There are references to people blacking up as a form of disguise in popular custom, although in Heaney and Forrest's book 'Annals of Early Morris', there is only one reference to black-faced morris dancers in the period they studied (up to 1750), and that is from the mid-sixteenth century."

So up to 1750, blacking up would appear not to have been a widespread custom within morris; but Sharp talks about it possibly being widespread in the past (some time prior to 1912). It is very difficult to say whether border or Anglian morris had a blacking up tradition prior to minstrelsy, at least from this evidence.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 06:40 PM

Quote: "The face blacking is a tradition to prevent dancers from being recognised by local worthies and potential employers - in the border regions where the border morris style originated. It is echoed in blackface molly dancing from the East Anglian regions. The face blacking is not a racist reference to black skin."

Another, oft-heard, quote: "All these blacks look the same to me."

So blacking up "to avoid recognition" never has racist connotations, eh?

You don't have to black your face. You can change that "tradition" very easily. If you don't want to, you should make it clear in your promotional material that you black up. I'm one hundred percent behind this head teacher. If loads of you have really bombarded the school with protest emails, shame on you. You don't happen to share her opinion, that's all. I hope she has more sense than to waste time responding. I see a rather ugly side of this tradition being displayed here.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 06:58 PM

"...is unacceptable to call a Jew a 'yid'" True enough - nnless of course you were speaking in Yiddish. Strange how these things work.

Offensiveness is about the intention of the person causing offence, or the sensibilities of the person who feels offended, and it should wherever possible be avoided.

But sometimes situations arise where the objection comes from someone who is not personally offended, and where there is no suspicion of intent to offend, but the objection is on behalf of hypothetical offence to people who have not made any objection. And that can have unfortunate consequences.

Derek Schofield's post seems to get it pretty well right. There's a whole range of colours available which avoid any risk of causing misunderstanding, and which are just as much in keeping with a tradition that has incorporated all kinds of changes. (Ab exception to this perhaps being the Rochester Sweeps tradition, since soot is intrinsic to that and it doesn't come in other colours. But then a soot smeared face doesn't really look much like "blackface".)


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 08:44 PM

No-one has responded to my query :
"I'm interested to hear from any side that has discussed the matter of blackface rationally, considered the evidence, wondered if they might be causing offence and then made a decision to retain the blackface or change to a different colour or drop the blackface altogether."

However Vic Smith has responded with similar sort of examples from his local folk club. Another example of this is that Francis Shergold of Bampton used to sing a song "Rum tum taddle um, old John Braddlum". He wouldn't have known that it was a minstrelsy song, but it does include the N word. But then Reg Hall, their musician, married Claire, from Jamaica, and Francis changed the words to avoid the N word so as not to cause offence. His sister Ruth doesn't sing, but knows the song (it was in the family) but I remember her declining to sing it in company because she would naturally sing the old words.

I used to sing The Shearing's Not for You ... a beautiful tune, but the words (in Stephen Sedley's book The Seeds of Love) indicate that the song is about rape. A re-assessment of my song repertoire many years ago led to that song being dropped.

You have to consider the changing times in which we live. Just because something is, supposedly, traditional, does not mean it HAS to be kept... cock fighting was traditional, so was bear-baiting and hanging....

well, back to Border Morris ... recent posters do not seem to have picked up on this bit of my long message:

<< And now, the plethora of Border Morris sides that black up ... I am sure that they do not set out to be "offensive". But "being offensive" is not in the eye of the perpetrator, it is surely in the eye of the beholder. >>

Incidentally, I found the message from Rick H, the Motley dancer, offensive. I might just email the head teacher and congratulate her on her decision......

Derek




about any sides that black up and who have had the discussion about whether they should or not, based on


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Smokey.
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:00 PM

But "being offensive" is not in the eye of the perpetrator, it is surely in the eye of the beholder.

I'd have thought that for 'offence' to be any more than an unfortunate misunderstanding, it has to be both given and taken.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 09:53 PM

Thank you again Ruth for a rational and researched comment.

As to some others, as I have said, offence may be taken based on ignorance, and that should not be pandered to - but it may well be wise to explain the correct position.

That position would (on the evidence considered here so far) seem to be that there has been a pre-minstrelsy custom of guised dancing, and that the colour chosen was likely in some cases to have been a matter of convenience but that in some cases it was black.

On that basis it still seems perfectly proper to state (as I did) that the genesis of blacking up was not racist.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Dazbo at work
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 03:08 AM

Out of interest how many border teams that black up actually have had people come up and tell them they've been offended or that they're being racist?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 03:12 AM

Richard, I love you dearly but you have just expended a lot of effort to prove something that is not relevant to the offence people might feel and the concerns held by the chantry school.

The fect, if it is so, that morris-men blacked up for disguise before minstrelsy existed does not alter the fact that, now, blackface as we see it, carries heavy racial baggage.

You asked for references on the "Clee Hill...Niggering" quote. All that matters is that the morris dancers at the website www.bordermorris.co.uk chose to publish that description, including the 'N' word to assist the public's understanding of border morris as those practitioners understand it.

Now ask why, if blackface disguise was a marginal practice by a few border-dwellers, and one that had died out until resurrected by Kirkpatrick in a new interpretation about 40 years ago, do we see at any morris festival, a sea of blackened faces - total coverage, not coal/cork streaks of disguise?

If it is NOT traditional, NOT an ubiquitous custom, NOT important, IS tainted by modern racist overtones and DOES risk offence then we DON'T need it, do we?

Plenty of morris sides get on quite well - and better - without blackface. Some go black with decoration, some go in dirty streaks which must be the most authentic version and some go in rainbow colours. Those people are the standard-bearers for our tradition.

I started this debate with a belief that blackface was all about coal dust and miners.

Then I learned it was about disguise ans was just one of many coloured disguises in Morris tradition.

Then I read more and found a lot of evidence for racist connotations (whether or not those connotations were at the genesis of the practice) and then I found present-day morris men gleefully talking about Niggering on the 'definitive' border morris website.

Then I saw my friends slamming, against all the evidence of unpleasantness around the blackface issue, the hapless headteacher for her decision without even stopping to consider the situation poperly.

I saw my friends, claiming to support our traditions, effectively 'fighting for the right' to upset fellow citizens for no good reason and, by refusing to offer authentic disguised-morris in another medium of make-up, lose a chance to get into a multi-racial school and show off our traditions - and you call yourselves upholders of folk tradition?

Then finally we got RickH of Motley Morris itself showing the true blackface and bemoaning the fact he "unfortunately" lived alongside Afro-Caribbean people.

Shame, shame, shame.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 03:26 AM

it still seems perfectly proper to state (as I did) that the genesis of blacking up was not racist

I agree, more or less. But I don't think that's got any bearing on whether we should do it now, or on whether we should take account of people's objections to it now.

Going back to your responses to Les:

1. Some of us are uneasy and some of us are offended

RB: That is not the point. Are those of you correctly uneasy or offended?


Even if the offence being taken could be shown to be 100% inappropriate, I would still be uneasy - because the offence is real and widespread, and it's tending to perpetuate the image of English traditional culture as all-white and reactionary, an image we could all do without.

2. "Border Morris" sides have been willing to change almost anything and they have created a very exciting version of The Morris.

RB: So what?


If the style allows for change, something like this can be changed.

As I've said before, when I was a kid you would never see a black-face side. I strongly suspect that the Border style of performance became popular as a break with what was then seen as a rigid, unchanging tradition. To find people now insisting that every element of the Border style must be maintained unchanged, in the name of the heritage of English culture, is a bit ridiculous.

(On 'chav', incidentally, the OED agrees with me - and in sheer common-sense terms it's hard to imagine where else the word would have come from. You're right to say that lots of people called 'pikeys' weren't Romani; that's why I specifically linked it to anti-Traveller racism.)


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 03:29 AM

My final word on this:

Blacking-up in Border has nothing to do with racism; too many white middle class folk are too eager to assume offence on behalf of others; if a border side wants to black-up that fine by me; if you don't like it well that's too bad.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,EricTheOrange
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 03:31 AM

When I started playing for my local border side the musicians were expected to wear blackface, even though the dancers wore black and white. I wasn't happy with that, and felt extremely uncomfortable doing so.
It may have taken more faffing around to do black and white brushwork, rather than a quick wipe over with a black sponge, but I felt a lot more comfortable about doing it. At the time I thought to myself "How would I attempt to justify this if i cam face-to-face with a black guy in the pub afterwards and he asked me why I blacked up?". I couldn't, in all honesty, not mention the connection with minstrelsy among the other connotations of blacking up.
There you go, Eric the Orange, you can now empathise with me, a white man who was not happy about putting on a black face.


Whats wrong with that? Seems sensible. I'd probably want to do the same. But you're taking action about something because of how you feel not how you think somebody else might feel.

Let me explain why I think it's an important point. On my mother's side I'm part of a community which has experienced some terrible racism directed against it in the past and still has a tough time today, though it's not based on skin colour. What often happens is that some well meaning soul takes some action on our behalf though most of us usually are not bothered about the issue concerned and are quite able to speak for ourselves when we are. What then happens is that this is fuel for the racists who say that we get privileged treatment. Its used as justification for more attacks even though we never asked for that treatment.

My personal experience is that minority communities just want to get on with their lives and be treated the same as everybody else. They don't want people taking action on their behalf based upon what they *think* the community needs they just want people to listen when they say what they need.

In the case of the school if people had expressed concerns then thats one thing but otherwise the school is just taking a decision based on the colour of some of their pupils skin which however well intentioned and unintentional is still just another form of racism in that it's treating people differently based on race.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 03:42 AM

What Royston said.

Richard, The point here is about people's feelings which don't always equate to cold, hard facts.

You seem to be saying that it is OK to offend (and maybe by extension persecute?) people if the "evidence" (that it is a traditional activity) supports it.

That seems to be a deeply flawed argument to me.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 03:46 AM

It's interesting that this is the conclusion you've come to, Richard. I think we need to be less general, and ensure that we're not conflating the guising of popular custom (which in certain places inclueded blacking up) with blacking up as it specifically refers to the border morris tradition. My own opinion is this: the music, the instruments and the "going niggering", as it specifically is relevant to those dance sides from the border areas around Shropshire and Herefordshire, point to a very specific and strong case for the influence of minstrelsy on their tradition. Which came first, the blacking or the race songs, may never be fully answered, but all I know is that at one point in the not-too-distant past, the two became inextricably linked. I also believe that, in an effort to sweep under the carpet this uncomfortable history, the border morris fraternity has conflated certain old traditions of "smutting" the face with soot, which certainly DID exist, with their own tradition in order to give a more socially acceptable explanation for it.

As I say, I can only speak for my own reading of the available evidence. But I'm also working from an awareness of how other traditions associated with blacking up and race, such as Padstow Darkie Day, have similarly tried to deny their racist roots because they do not want to be compelled to abandon their tradition (and we had a very interesting and lengthy discussion with the curator of the Padstow Museum ealrier this year, who has an extensive archive of overwhelming evidence for the influence of minstrelsy on that particular tradition).

One point I think it is important to reiterate is that I do not believe that the intentions of the overwhelming majority of border morris dancers is to cause offence, nor do I think that blacking up to take part in their tradition makes them racist. Derek has said that it's about perception rather than intent, and some have argues that both need to be present for offence to be caused.

My feeling is this: people who are unfamiliar with border morris and see it for the first time, whether they are people of colour or not, could construe it as being something to do with blacking up in the old, pejorative sense. Now, if the tradition had never, ever had anything to do with "bad" blacking up, its practitioners could turn around to those people and truthfully, hand-on-heart, explain that the tradition had absolutely innocent roots, that it was a form of disguise, etc etc, and there was no reason for anyone to misinterpret or take offence at such a harmless practice. But the fact is, border IS tainted by association with minstrelsy. The dances WERE called "niggering dances", and the music and songs associated with the tradition DID have racist overtones. Whether the blacking up or the "niggering" came first may never be proven, but the taint is there, and it's undeniable.

If sides who practice this tradition are going to black up, I'd much rather they were honest with themselves, and with anyone who might enquire about the tradition. Apart from anything else, I don't like the spread of fakelore, especially in a case like this where it isn't evolving to fill in gaps in our knowledge but to actually cover up uncomfortable truths. And it leads to undesirable situations like morris dancers e-mailing a school to harangue them about who should dance at their fete. If the dancers in question had been fully aware of the history of this tradition, would they have been quite so quick to jump down the throat of that head teacher? I'd like to think not.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 03:49 AM

if you don't like it well that's too bad.
Fine. I might call you an unthinking fool and an ignorant peasant. And if you don't like it, well that's too bad.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 04:26 AM

There appears to be a time-discontinuity in the some of the above assertions that modern border dancing is irretrievably associated with minstrelsy. If the blackface part was added to the pre-FitzPatrick parts of border morris after the FitzPatrick revival, how does that link to the then extinct minstrelsy?

Ruth also asserts that blackface border sides are linked to minstrelsy by the choice of instrument - but as far as I have seen hardly any use banjo, most use button melodeon and threepenny bit (English and Anglo), and some use violin. Some use recorder and whistles. Some use almost wholly percussion (Wychmen, noticeably). That does not look like minstrelsy.

If we accept (as I think we must) that folk arts evolve (it is in the nature of "folk") then there seems at present no inhibition to saying that the "more convenient" method of blacking up using modern facepaint after the FitzPatrick revival lead to the spread (as also noted above) of blacking up after his revival, and there still seems no necessary link to minstrelsy.

It also means that there is no reason that the tradition cannot evolve again to use other colours, but not in response to imposition.

Sorry to disagree Royston. You know perfectly well that I am opposed to racial prejudice, but that does not mean bowing to offence at imagined slights.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 04:35 AM

from my first post in this thread, Richard, and again discussing the EDS article on blacking up from 2005:

'The piece goes on to discuss the incorporation of blacking up into "traditional" events: "There would seem to be little doubt that the black faces of the traditional morris dance groups of the Welsh Border counties were at least influenced by minstrelsy. The occasional use of banjoes, bones and tambourines in these morris dances cannot be mere coincidence." '


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 04:49 AM

Richard - it comes down to whether you'd rather be right and offensive, or wrong and well-liked. Or, in this case, offensive and mostly right but partly wrong, or well-liked and mostly wrong but partly right.

The only way I would be willing to defend blacking up for Morris would be if (a) it was an ancient and unchanged tradition and (b) I was convinced that it had no connection with minstrelsy. Neither of these is true. Border has displaced other styles of dance in the revival within the last 30 years (i.e. post-Sex Pistols) - and there's plenty of evidence of overlaps and borrowings between older blacked-up dance styles and the minstrel form.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 04:50 AM

RB - on the instrumentation found by Cawte when he researched border morris, Roy Dommet writes: The number of concertina and melodeon instruments in use, when compared with the Cotswold Morris in the 19th century as described by Keith Chandler, indicates the later period from which the Border Morris has been drawn, as these instruments became cheap and readily available by the turn of the century. The percussion instruments were also those associated with the Nigger Minstrel Troupes which had been wildly popular since the middle of the 19th Century and who of course blacked their faces.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 04:51 AM

I think, having fired off a letter to the school, RB may now be reluctant to change his view. We can argue until we're blue(?) in the face, and it won't make a blind bit of difference.
Oh, and 200 by the way.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,baz parkes
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 05:07 AM

Quoting Ruth
"If sides who practice this tradition are going to black up, I'd much rather they were honest with themselves, and with anyone who might enquire about the tradition."

I think those sides who care about the tradition are...it's those who dance a type of "border" because they like to wear fancy dress that don't. I've never seen Motley dance, so wouldn't like to judge here

And Ruth again

"from anything else, I don't like the spread of fakelore,"

And,again, neither do the sides that care...

Sadly when you're just about to dance or play and someone asks you why you black up, you rarely have time to go through the options, and said member of the public has usuually disappeared by the time you have time to explain...


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 06:02 AM

Just for the record, GUEST,Rick H has never posted to Mudcat before or since under that name and there is no-one called Rick among the named officers on the Motley Morris web site.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,DizzyLisa Motley Muso
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 06:11 AM

I was wary of adding anything to this thread as I know how quickly Mudcat often descends into mudsling. However I must speak in defence of Rick H who is one of the nicest people you could hope to meet.
Who here has not castigated the chavvy element which spoil so many of our festivals – especially Sweeps. I get the point he was trying to make, though certain aspects could have been omitted.

On the point of blacking up… yes we could change the colour of our faces and we have considered it. However the kit was designed to create visual impact over 20 years ago. Single bright colour tatters which provide a contrast to the black faces. We could paint our faces in the colour of our tatters but unless the face was exactly the same colour as the tatters – the impact would be lost. We have a vast array of colours and not all are available as face paints. The blacking is messy and sweaty in the summer but we feel that the visual effect is worth it.

You can see us dancing here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eonC7Wv_k5o


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 06:19 AM

DissyLisa

Did you tell the school about blacking up when you took the booking?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 06:24 AM

Richard, of course you are not racist. Of all the people I know you are one of the furthest from that description.

I do feel though that whilst your academic investigation of the roots of blackface, and your careful conclusions do not address the real issue of what people actually feel and nor does it address the overtly racist modern development of border morris. It also misses the overt public racism of some border morris practitioners, i.e. Their co.uk website.

If anyone seriously believes that blacking up creates only imagined sleight in the minds of white folk then they are free to come to my place in Lewisham in full make-up. I won't stand alongside you but I promise to call the ambulance for you.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 06:52 AM

There will be a delay in further postings by me here, pending my receipt of further research. I have spent a half hour on the phone with a very well informed person who assures me inter alia that it is virtually certain that the oldest part of morris costume is blackface - but he is not computerate and I am going to have to print the thread and post it my snailmail to him, and then await his handwritten response that I will need to type up and post here.

I would also say to Pip - thank you for your consideration but anyone who knows me in person will be well aware that I would rather be right than anything! What worries me is if I think I might be wrong, and for a while you had me rattled there, but I feel much more comfortable now.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 07:41 AM

the onus was on the head teacher,to check about morris sides,five minutes reserach on the computer by this ignoramus and this situation would have been avoided, and she could have booked a Cotswold Morris side,and the children would have learned about an English tradition.
I do not find it offensive when japanese or black people whiten their face as disguise,consequently I do not feel that black people should be offended by people browning/blacking up.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 07:44 AM

We can argue until we're blue in the face

Maybe that's the idea?

Dizzy Lisa - "over 20 years ago"? What, you mean this is a tradition that goes back to that dim and distant age slightly before Acid House? I'm amazed the archives have survived that long!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,DizzyLisa Motley Muso
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 07:47 AM

We were booked on the strength of our website (which contains a link to our myspace page, containing over 700 photos)
http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewAlbums&friendID=168289144
   
This was NOT a paid stand – it was a goodwill gesture to a local school. There was no loss of money involved but people had made space in their busy lives to attend.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Bloke from Poole
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 07:56 AM

Ruth quotes:
"There would seem to be little doubt that the black faces of the traditional morris dance groups of the Welsh Border counties were at least influenced by minstrelsy. The occasional use of banjoes, bones and tambourines in these morris dances cannot be mere coincidence."

I have danced Cotswold to musos playing banjo, and tambourines - although I'm not sure about bones - spoons, though. Does this mean I'm a racist? (and guitar, ukelele, flute, recorder, even a tuba...)

Dance sides of all shapes and sizes have used whatever instruments and musos were available.

The above quote, however, is simply opinion ("would seem..." "cannot be...")

It is perfectly possible that banjoes were popular at a given time as a result of minstrel shows. But someone who has learnt to play banjo as a result subsequently playing for a morris side doesn't provide a very convincing link to racism, intended or otherwise.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 07:59 AM

Richard
Like you I have been investigating and have been in touch with 2 Border teams.
I am concerned that I do not support anything that is rascist and therefore feel that I need to investigate further, to the point where it can be proven that blacking up in the Border Morris case was to do with disguise and not for any other reason.
Having spoken to these 2 teams, it would seem that they are trying to keep the traditon going that their forefathers did. As far as they are concerned the issue of blacking up is related to disguise and nothing else. They only dance in their local villages. Make of that what you will.
I will keep on coming back, as I find out more, whether it supports the disguise or other reasons.

Looking at the video of Motley Morris, I find it difficult to believe that they are trying to take off black people. My imagination, does not stretch that far.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: greg stephens
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 08:08 AM

I am a little concerned by Ruth Archer's stance on this issue, particularly as she is a booker for a big festival. She is saying that people should not black up because in the past blacking up was associated with imitating the minstrel troupes, and is thus essentially racist. She also quotes an item that says the use of bajoes, or bones, or tambourines also proves a link to the minstrel troupes. Now, this may or not be true. But she appears to be drawing the deduction that not only is blacking up unacceptable, but also the playing of bajoes, tambourines, and bones is unacceptable.
I play in a band that regularly uses banjo and bones, and on occasion we've had a tambourine player sitting in.(As do many bands, Martin Brinsford in the Brasshoppers springs to mind). Is Ruth Archer saying that those instruments are unacceptable at Sidmouth, becaue they have been associated with minstrelsy in the past? And if not, why not? Because if blacking up is unacceptable on her grounds, then so are bajoes. And frankly, I find that idea absolutely plain barmy.AS well as grossly offensive to musicians who play the relevant instyruments, whether they are white, black or khaki.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 08:08 AM

before any group are booked in to a school,the school should research the group they are booking,this head teacher did not,she is clearly incompetent as well as ignorant,she should be reprimanded by the school governors.
meanwhile racism which involves people being attacked physically is still occurring unchecked,talk about tilting at windmills.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 08:12 AM

Malcolm, it's the collective elements: the black face, the "niggering", and the instruments which all make a strong case for border once being closely associated with minstrelsy. But it's very possible that the instruments you play, if histroical to the morris side you dance with and if they go back far enough, may once have been related to minstrelsy, too. It was hugely popular. But there is a big difference between putting on blackface and playing a banjo in terms of the potential offence caused in 2009.

"Does this mean I'm a racist?" I have been at pains to say that I do not believe present-day border morris dancers to be racist simply because they black up.

Villan, are your two border teams revival sides or traditional sides? How long have they been going? Where did their information about dancing "as their forefathers did" come from?

People interested in the genesis of this "ancient tradition" might like to read the following article. John Kirkpatrick doesn't say much about the history of blacking up, but it does give an insight into how long border, as it is practiced in 2009, has been going...


Border Morris - Roots and Revival


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 08:12 AM

"But she appears to be drawing the deduction that not only is blacking up unacceptable, but also the playing of bajoes, tambourines, and bones is unacceptable."

I didn't see her draw any such further conclusion.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 08:21 AM

I'm reluctant to join in this discussion, and have felt no need so far because Ruth, Royston and others have argued so well for my own point of view, but I feel a need to add my voice to those who find comments like this "I do not feel that black people should be offended by people browning/blacking up" to be wilfully misguided.

It is not up to us to decide if someone should be offended or not by our actions. It is up to decent people to seek to avoid causing offence - as a matter of common courtesy, (or good manners to use the traditional term). And given the current political situation dancers should be thinking even more carefully about this practice, and how it may play out to the wider world.

In 'closed' situations where there is an opportunity carefully to explain all the historical precedents (innocent and less so), black make-up might just be justifiable (as it might have been in this case), but in the street and on websites etc. dancers would do well to bear in mind that Morris is colourful, noisy and newsworthy - so punches above its weight in terms of public relations. Their choices will colour people's views on the whole folk scene.

I'm well aware that folk music tends to attract people of a more conservative disposition (note the small c), and there may indeed be people with right wing / racist views dancing morris. These will no doubt hang on to their practices for more than one reason, but others need to beware of a 'territorial knee-jerk' reaction to change.

The time line, as I see it, seems to go like this:

1) Origins of morris - possible parody of black skin = dodgy.

2) Guising to avoid recognition - innocent, but open to misinterpretation = dodgy.

3) Assumption of minstrelsy fashions - parody of black skin = dodgy.

4) Re-invention and modern popularisation - largely innocent but open to misinterpretation = dodgy.

Trying to drill down on the details misses the main picture, which is that hanging on to this 'tradition' when there are viable alternatives is not really tenable or sensible.

I know dancers enjoy shocking people (I remember my, then, very small son being freaked out by being chased by a dancer with a horse's skull on his head - the man plainly enjoyed his terror), but there are limits.

Rather than writing to a hard-pressed head teacher who made an innocent mistake, I would rather write to the powers that be in the Morris world. Forgive my ignorance but there seem to be a number of rival factions.

Who are the people of influence in this field?

Tom


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,HelenJ
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 08:21 AM

This smacks of something which happened a few years ago. Mike Riley
gave trad singing lessons to children in the north Manchester area. He was instructed not to sing The Boarshead Carol, it would offend Jews and others. He was also forbidden to teach songs about foxhunting (One assumes the foxes would be offended.) Where will this all end?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 08:22 AM

Greg: please see my last post on thius subject. I think the instruments are one element within a weight of evidence which point conclusively to border morris having had very close ties with minstrelsy. That's all.

But just in case it's not clear, I'd like to state the following, absolutely and categorically:

I do NOT believe that border morris dancers who black up are racist.

I do NOT believe that border morris sides who black up should stop doing it. I just think they ought to know what the roots of the custom are and make an informed choice about it. I also hope they'd be brave enough to include this in their explanations if the public asks why blacking up is part of the tradition.

I DO think that, before jumping all over this poor head teacher and giving her a piece of their mind, some people maybe ought to have made sure that the history they were citing as the root of their outrage and indignation was, in fact, true.

I DO think that the proliferation of fakelore, especially as a means of covering up the more unpleasant aspects of our folk history, ought not to be encouraged.

I do NOT place any restrictions or guidance on the booking of dance teams or bands at Sidmouth on any grounds other than quality.


As it happens, Shropshire Bedlams are one of my favourite morris sides.

I hope that makes my position very clear.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 08:29 AM

Ruth
>>Villan, are your two border teams revival sides or traditional sides? How long have they been going? Where did their information about dancing "as their forefathers did" come from? <<

Thats exactly what I am trying to find out, and as I have said, when I get more concrete evidence I will feed back on it. If my eveidence proves to be innacurate, I will be the first to put my hands up and stop supporting Border Morris and blacking up.


Maybe you should do the same.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 08:35 AM

Yes, and don't you think that consistently leaving the "N" out of banjo is taking PCness just a tad too far?
(Wonder who's actually read JKP's piece yet? Not many seem to have done after I linked to it a few days ago).


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 08:38 AM

before any group are booked in to a school,the school should research the group they are booking,this head teacher did not,she is clearly incompetent as well as ignorant,she should be reprimanded by the school governors.
I find it so refreshing that traditional music has such eloquent ambassadors. Diplomacy's loss is clearly music's gain in this instance.
If only one thing comes out of this it will be that poor Hazel King will never want to have anything to do with morris dancing as long as she lives.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 08:38 AM

The Flag & Bone Gang of Knaresborough revived some of the dances my grandfather used to play for. They hold clacking bones in their hands and wear beekeepers' veils. Who's going to find something sinister in that?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 08:42 AM

I'll tellya what - I find them bloody sinister!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 08:55 AM

Strikes me that you find anything sinister Ruth!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 09:00 AM

I see the racists are making capital out of this.

Stormfront


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 09:12 AM

Maybe you haven't seen Flag and Bone dance, Villan. The effect is quite disturbing, and I assume that this is absolutely deliberate. Their bee-keeper's veils are shroud-like, which takes disguise to a whole new level.

How unfortunate that, in what has been on the whole an interesting and informative discussion, you feel compelled to continually resort to personal digs. Maybe you'd be less defensive and aggressive if you could back up your arguments with evidence rather than emotion.

When you can, I will be really interested to hear them.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 09:15 AM

200+ posts late maybe but can I ask a few questions.

1. If I was to offend someone on this thread would they still be alive tomorrow?

2. If I was to black up for a dance or play tonight woud it make any difference to anything whatsoever?

3. Remember the old term 'sticks and stones can break my bones (no -not that sort!)~ but names can never hurt me'?

Guess what.

If someone offends me I may get a bit shirty. I'm over it tomorrow.

Stage make-up has no bearing on anyones thoughts, charecter or intentions. I know because I have worn it.

The old term is true. You are all adults. People give and take offence at all sorts of stupid things. Get over it.

DeG


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 09:22 AM

I was making a general statement there Ruth. I haven't seen them and am in no position to make comment.
Obviously you see something offensive there and that is up to you.

Political correctness has gone stupid and its important to ensure that such PC reaction is well founded.
We won't be able to fart in our own toilet soon.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 09:25 AM

I did a google search on "blacking up", these are the sort of articles that I came across. Does the Morris/ Molly/ Folk world really want to be associated with these sort of activities, whatever the history of Border Morris?

Do these articles represent the reality of what many people will perceive when seeing blacked up Morris/ Molly dancers?


"In February Lewis Hamilton was racially abused by Spanish Formula One fans who dressed up in wigs with blacked-up faces and "Hamilton's family" written on their T-shirts. Then in November four Oxford university rugby students, including the son of Richard Spring MP, the vice-chairman of the Conservative party, were reprimanded for blacking up and wearing loincloths to an African party.

One of the participants, Phil Boon, who was also embroiled in a separate controversy surrounding an event entitled "Bring a Fit Jew to Dinner" said "Blacking up for the Safari Bop was just going along with that theme. We dress up for a lot of parties. I have not had people telling me that either of the themes were offensive."

Yet for some people blacking up is clearly offensive. In 2006 Diane Abbott MP put a motion before parliament calling for the Mummer's Day festival in Padstow to be banned. But local MP Dan Rogerson defended the practice saying "It is not something local people have objected to. The tradition of blacking up is a very old one. It is not something that comes from Padstow, but around the rest of England and I don't think we should be picking on Padstow."


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 09:34 AM

"Obviously you see something offensive there and that is up to you."

Flag and Bone is weird. It's meant to be. It's not offensive - not even to bee-keepers.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 09:45 AM

I don't think Ruth said Flag & Bone were offensive, exactly. The dance is from beekeeping country so it's an obvious and appropriate form of disguise. It's also Lyke Wake Dirge land so of course it's scary, That's the point. And it's also bloody difficult to do in kit on account of how hard it is to see where you're going.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 09:48 AM

Paul
So hello. What has your last post got to do with Motley Morris?
Les


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 09:49 AM

Ok I apologise Ruth.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 09:54 AM

this poor head teacher,end of quote.
this incompetent, ignorant head teacher,who cant even spend 5 minutes researching different forms of morris,[and then booked a cotswold morris that doesnt black up side]who has denied children the opportunity to learn about English morris dancing,she needs to get her act together.
If she doesnt like Morris sides that black up,then find outabout the morris sides and traditions first.
this could all have been avoided with a little research.
Diane Abbott,would be better employed trying to help these victims of racism.
Racist attack on London gurudwara: report
Ians
March 18th, 2009

LONDON - A Sikh gurudwara in London was gutted in an alleged racist attack, a British newspaper reported Tuesday.

Gurdwara Sikh Sangat in Bow, built in 1979 and which housed priceless religious books, was holding a women-only prayer session when the suspected arson took place Monday. Most of its roof collapsed but no one was injured, the Evening Standard reported.

'Somebody did this deliberately. A man came in and got to the temple's holiest area. He was interrupted by one of the women and managed to get away. As he ran out, the place went up in flames. Everyone panicked. The women tried to put out the fire with buckets of water but it was too fierce,' said Gurpal Singh, an IT professional and a regular at the gurudwara.

Witnesses described the suspected arsonist as being black or mixed-race.

The London Fire Brigade confirmed that 75 percent of the building and the roof had been damaged by the fire.

More than 50 fire fighters battled the fire for almost eight hours before putting out the fire completely.

Kamaljeet Kaur said her aunt was in the temple when the alleged arsonist struck.

She said: 'All the women thought he was a robber. It was only when they got upstairs that they discovered the fire raging. It is lucky one of them was not badly hurt.'

Singh said the women managed to save just one of the temple's eight holy books before the flames took hold.

'I cannot describe how important those holy books were to the Sikh community,' he added.

One worshipper said that in the past few weeks he had noticed racist graffiti on one of the gurudwara's outer walls, the newspaper said.

A police spokesman said: 'Police are treating this incident as suspicious.'


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 10:01 AM

'Political correctness' is a handy stick to wield. But consider replacing the phrase with something like 'consideration' and it sounds quite different. Just as I would hope that, even absent-mindedly, most here wouldn't wander into a synagogue eating a ham roll, so one should think about the consequences of any action.
The 'live with it' and 'I don't care' attitude shown by many of the posters here is actually quite depressing - it's sticking two fingers up to anyone else and saying 'I'm all right Jack, so sod you.'
The other depressing aspect is the default defence of any entrenched position - if someone suggests otherwise, they WRONG dammit. As has, I hope, been demonstrated, the routes of what was eventually invented as border morris are inextricably linked with the minstrel phenomenon, and that is something that should be acknowledged. Sticking fingers in ears and saying 'na-na-na-nah-na' won't uninvent those facts. It's akin to the difference between science and faith - scientists will look at evidence and change their position, whereas those with a faith-based stance cling on regardless.
Just be thankful that Hazel King didn't raise exactly those points when she decided not to have Motley Morris at the Chantry School. A far larger can of worms would have been opened. As it is we can have a discussion here about it without revealing to the wider world our blinkers and unthinking, stubborn selfishness.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 10:02 AM

>>so of course it's scary<<

So a bit like scary pantomimes which kids and grown ups seem to love.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 10:02 AM

Villan....... I'm pointing out what is the probable perception of the majority (a lot of people google) of the population around "blacking up". This is completely relevant to this debate.

Don't you think that blacking up is blacking up to most of the population?

Do you think people stop and think "it's (or it might be) part of the tradition and therefore OK"?

The majority of people will just see white guys made up as black guys ...... with all the connotations that has.

As one of the parents from Chantry school said: "To black up in this day and age is taking things too far. I know it was a diversity day and it was supposed to help bind cultures together but having a bunch of white guys with black faces turn up at a primary school and prance about is just plain wrong and would have caused confusion among the kids."

This whole event is a PR disaster for the Morris/ Folk world.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 10:05 AM

this incompetent, ignorant head teacher,who cant even spend 5 minutes researching different forms of morris,[and then booked a cotswold morris that doesnt black up side]who has denied children the opportunity to learn about English morris dancing,she needs to get her act together.

I rest my fucking case.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 10:13 AM

Just wanted to re-post these excellent points made by Ruth A earlier:

"I DO think that, before jumping all over this poor head teacher and giving her a piece of their mind, some people maybe ought to have made sure that the history they were citing as the root of their outrage and indignation was, in fact, true.

I DO think that the proliferation of fakelore, especially as a means of covering up the more unpleasant aspects of our folk history, ought not to be encouraged."

*

Until the folk community can through thorough research and examination of evidence, ascertain the truth about their own folk traditions, no-one else should be expected to take their wish to do what they do just because that's the way they do it, seriously.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 10:15 AM

>>This whole event is a PR disaster for the Morris/ Folk world.<<

All becuase the stupid person who booked them, didn't take time to check them out, before they booked them and ensure they were suatble for what they wanted. Had they have done that, they would have been able to say thank you, but no thank you in a nice way.

I would hate to think of you as an organiser booking somebody, without checking them out first and making sure they are suitable for your venue.

I check out everybody I book first. its not difficult with myspace/ youtube, live shows etc.

Instead they book them, have a meeting, decide that it could cause offence, its gets into the newspapers and then gets blown out of all proportion.
How does that make Motley Morris look and feel.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 10:21 AM

Les,

"All becuase the stupid person who booked them, didn't take time to check them out, before they booked them and ensure they were suatble for what they wanted"

Is one way of looking at it and I wouldn't argue that the headteacher should have thought it through.

However, for me (as you can probably gather) it raises bigger questions of the acceptability of "blacking up" in this day and age. The mixed evidence around the history of the "tradition" makes it an even harder job to justify the practice.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 10:21 AM

"All becuase the stupid person who booked them, didn't take time to check them out, before they booked them and ensure they were suatble for what they wanted."

Perhaps the head teacher was operating under the clearly naive and un-researched assumption, that traditional English culture would naturally be entirely suitable for young black children to partake in?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 10:24 AM

DeG - People give and take offence at all sorts of stupid things. Get over it.

I dunno. It seems to me that there's quite a lot of interest in Morris these days, and the general displacement of Cotswold-and-whites by Border-and-tatters over the last couple of decades has helped keep it alive. And fair enough - traditions always change. But some Border enthusiasts are talking as if blackface and tatters is an ancient and immemorial inheritance which must be preserved unchanged forever, which (in my opinion) it ain't. (And besides, that's not how tradition works - traditions develop and borrow and adapt and change, it's what they do.)

it also seems to me that there are a lot of misconceptions about English traditional culture & Morris in particular, also going back to this idea of culture as a heritage, to be preserved unchanged. My grandfathers were a South London railway worker and a Welsh miner; I know that one of them was Church of Wales and the other Plymouth Brethren, but apart from that I've got no idea what kind of songs they sang (if they sang) or what kind of music they danced to (if they danced). I've got ancestors in Sussex and Shropshire who probably danced out - or knew someone who did - but there's absolutely zero continuity between them and me: that's why it's called a Revival.

What this means - and I'm sure people are wondering - is that English traditional culture is available to us now because we're in England, not because we're English - and specifically not because we're the descendants of all those sailors and milkmaids. It's available to us (if we want it) and I would like it to be available to everyone else in the country (if they want it), regardless of whether they trace their ancestors to Clun or Kiev or Calcutta.

Some people take the opposite view; some people - including some folk enthusiasts - take the view that it is the culture of the true-born English(wo)man, and if anyone with a naturally darker skin doesn't like it they can run along and play with their steel drums (which is their culture, of course). I'm not accusing anyone here of thinking like that; what I'm saying is that there are people who think like that, and the less ammunition we give them, the better.

Blacking-up, in imitation of Black people, is a long-established custom in this country - and frankly, why wouldn't it be? Before 1948, the Black population of Britain was about 25,000 in total - something like a twentieth of 1%. Times change, and what would have been unlikely to cause offence in one time becomes grossly offensive in another. I would ask anyone who is attached to blackface dancing to ask themselves whether they can be sure that the practice isn't connected with 'racial' blacking-up. Lots of people wouldn't be offended by it even if it was explicitly racial; lots of people weren't offended by the Black and White Minstrels. But I think we should take seriously those people who are offended.

Short version: why cut yourself off from part of your potential audience for the sake of maintaining a tradition unchanged? Traditions change all the time - it's what they do.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 11:06 AM

Paul
As I said previously. I am waiting for correspondance to be returned to me, to substantiate the Border Morris stance.

That does not let the person who booked them off the hook.

>>Perhaps the head teacher was operating under the clearly naive and un-researched assumption<<

Well that doesn't say much about the head teacher then.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 11:20 AM

My last, last word:

Blacking-up in border is "traditional" and has been since Shropshire Bedlams spawned endless crap border sides;

taking offence on behalf of others is a middle class, white trait and patronising in the extreme;

get over yourselves.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 11:23 AM

Shorter Morris-ey: "NA NA NA NOT LISTENING!"


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 11:23 AM

Les,

"That does not let the person who booked them off the hook."

As I said, they should have thought it through.



However it also doesn't let those who "black up" off the hook of thinking through the potential impact and perception of their make up either.

Does your view on this really hang on the historical context?

Am I completely bonkers to worry about how "blacking up" is perceived by the wider community and the potential discomfort it may be bring to some of our neighbours? Irrespective of historical context.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 11:38 AM

I only concern myself, if somebody is clearly being racist.

That has to be proven about Motley Morris. Until then I hold my stance.

They (Motley Morris) were obviously booked by the school. Their (Motley Morris) website makes it very obvious that they black up, by the picture and the first sentence in the first paragraph.
http://www.motley-morris.co.uk/

What more do they need to do. The school cocked up and Morris teams may well suffer for their action.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 11:43 AM

Andy Murray is ahead 2 sets to NIL. Doesn't seem to be concerning him.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 11:50 AM

It's a bit late but that's just reminded me of Buster Mottram, another crap Brit tennis player who brought even more fascism to SW London.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,baz parkes
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 12:01 PM

that's just reminded me of Buster Mottram, another crap Brit tennis player who brought even more fascism to SW London

Probably not as much as Buster Bloodvessel,tho

Baz


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Penny S.
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 12:09 PM

I've been reading this through with various dire feelings, and not intending to communicate with either Chantry School or here. I've taken time out to write to the BBC History magazine which, in the July issue, has published a dodgy letter about it being better for the far right to co-opt Anglo-Saxon tradition than for bleeding-heart liberals to concel our real English past for eternity. And then I've returned.

Until this thread I was not really aware about the border versus Cotswold morris situation. I may well have seen border at Rochester. I think I did, and I think I noticed black people watching without concern. But it wasn't something I thought about as an issue to be investigated from a school point of view. And that's me as a person who will go out of her way to watch morris. My mental image, founded in Folkestone in the fifties, and reinforced by the morris sides which have visited our school in Dartford, is of whites, and baldrics. I can easily imagine a head, who has a great deal of other stuff going on at the moment, not having the time to investigate something that she did not know needed to be investigated, but thinking it would be great to have a morris side along to compare and contrast with the Sikh folk dance. (I distinctly remember bells, and sticks, and two lines of dancers - and definitely not white costumes.) If the booking were done over the phone, on the strength of their being local, the obvious photograph would be missed. We don't know how the contact was made. Not sll local sides have web sites - searching might have been time consuming.

Chantry has been, in the past, the base for the English as a second language teaching in the area, and may still be. It is a school where ethnicity and associated issues will be something that cannot be ignored. I think it is unfair to criticise the head for the whole of the situation. I did see a report that the leaving off the blackface was discussed with the side, and no agreement could be reached.

The situation doesn't seem to have helped anyone, but I think that too much criticism with too little information will have done more harm to both the school and any morris side in the vicinity than leaving it alone whould have done.

No-one seems to have explained just how the story hit the press. Someone told them, and for some reason. Someone who knew about it. Who benefits from it, and are we helping them?

Penny


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 12:22 PM

It's highly unlikely that the school would have approached the press, which leads one to suspect that it was someone associated with Motley Morris who thought it would be a jolly jape to tip off the media with a 'political correctness gone mad' story.
In which case it's something of an own goal, really. As has been said, as an advertisement for trad arts it's about as welcome as a BNP meeting.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 12:33 PM

I thoroughly enjoyed a Border side dancing in Chorlton, Manchester, last night. They were very dramatic and exciting and the music was excellent. A range of colours on the face, lots of pinky brown but no "Blackface"

Lots of people watched, some appeared to be of Asian and of African origin but that may not have been. Passers by stopped and at the last venue, the far famed Beech, the crowd were encouraged to dance. Quite a few did and some appeared to be of African origin. The side did a brilliant job, enthusing and explaining what to do.

It might have been possible in this situation for someone who supports "Blackface" to explain the 'disguise' origin and maybe be even to explain and justify the 'Minstrelsy' influence.

But what could be said to someone who is not convinced? What if they simply say 'I find white people painting there faces black and dancing in public offensive?

Last night an old English custom did what it does best. It entertained and surprised a lot of people, quite a few of which were Mancunians who originated somewhere else.

That's what all good "Folk Art" does. Please don't offend people for no good reason.

Best wishes

L in C
Off to the Beech for some songs


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 12:33 PM

PennyS,

The situation doesn't seem to have helped anyone, but I think that too much criticism with too little information will have done more harm to both the school and any morris side in the vicinity than leaving it alone whould have done.

Quoted for the truth!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 01:00 PM

I agree with Derek Schofield when he wrote "I found the message from Rick H, the Motley dancer, offensive", referring, I assume, to "Unfortunately it also has a large Chav/Pikey community and has recently started getting a lot of Eastern Europeans and a few Afro Caribbean residents."

And in the light of that quote I'm also inclined to agree with Derek in thinking maybe the school head may have actually got it right, if that post actually did come from a member of Motley Morris.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 01:43 PM

I did see a report that the leaving off the blackface was discussed with the side, and no agreement could be reached.

If that's correct I almost agree with the Villan. Motley Morris cocked up, and Morris teams may well suffer for their action.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 01:54 PM

Well I guess they need to keep to the disguise tradition so we will never know who they are:

Peter Hargreaves (Squire) 01634 716751

Jim Snelling (Secretary) 07766 237564

Simon Ford (Foreman) 07793 627757

email: motleymorris@hotmail.co.uk

Best wishes

Les


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 02:50 PM

Pip, that certainly seems to be the case. The Press Association seems to have spoken to Peter Hargreaves, and reports, Peter Hargreaves, of the Motley Morris group, said the school asked if they would perform without blackened faces but they refused.
Meanwhile the white supremacist Anglo-Saxon Foundation is having its own illiterate fun with the issue.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 03:13 PM

My response to that is two words, and the second one's "idiots".

Actually a bit cross about this one. Must go and sing songs to calm down.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: fairplay
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 04:27 PM

But what about all those songs about booze and sex? I can't imagine anyone singing John Barleycorn or Lovely Joan under Sharia law. How much are we going to suppress English culture to accomodate the cultures of others?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 04:29 PM

But what about all those songs about booze and sex? I can't imagine anyone singing John Barleycorn or Lovely Joan under Sharia law. How much are we going to suppress English culture to accomodate the cultures of others?
Idiot alert!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 04:50 PM

Sneak in everywhere, don't they?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Snuffy
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 05:00 PM

The vast majority of today's alleged "Border"sides are based on the Kirkpatrick/Bedlams model, and tend to have little knowledge or interest in the traditional dances of the border counties. Any "tradition" they have can be dated back no more than 40 years, so the colour that they choose to paint their faces can not be justified by any appeal to ancient practices.

There are, however, a small number of sides whose sole or main repertoire is the traditional dances of the Border area, chief among them Silurian, Iron Men, Vancouver Morris and the (Saturday before Christmas only) Original Welsh Border Morris Men. These sides have researched the dances, both from written sources, and from the memories of old people who had performed or witnessed the last manifestations of a once-flourishing tradition.

By the way, I find it ironic that Border dancers get slammed on here for denying that there is any connection with Minstrels. And at the same time they are slammed for "gleefully" publishing information showing that there undoubtedly was a connection between "Niggering" and the minstrels. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Is Border morris based on Minstrels? With the paucity of documentation of the pre-minstrel period we shall probably never be able to get a definitive answer, but on what we do know I incline to the view that there certainly was an indigenous dancing tradition before the arrival of the Minstrels in the 1830s and 40s. Salient features included fairly simple dances, often allowing the participation of varying numbers, the use of sticks, rag coats or similar makeshift costume, and facial disguise. Unlike Cotswold and other forms of morris, it was predominantly a winter activity, apparently more often carried out after dark.

I suppose it is possible that none of this existed before 1830, but that after the advent of minstrel shows a dozen villages in the Border counties quite independently decided that blacking up was a good idea, so they each went out and invented a few simple stick dances, and wore strange costumes and blacked their faces. And they all decided independently not to whiten their eyes and mouth nor wear curly wigs to look more like minstrels, nor to ape the costume of the minstrels.

More likely to my way of thinking is that these independent traditions had managed to survive in a few places prior to the advent of minstrels. But in the 1830s, just as now, the public at large made an unwarranted but unsurprising connection between the only two groups they knew that artificially blacked their faces. It is not inconceivable that the "Niggering" name was originally given by the Great British public rather than the dancers themselves. "You look just like them minstrels – give us a song" may have been hard to resist if there was an extra shilling or half crown in it for them. These were very poor people, remember, who wouldn't be averse to earning a few extra coppers by giving their so-called "betters" what they wanted to hear.

So is blackface traditional? Well yes and no. According to published sources the Dilwyn and Upton men did not black up, while some did and some didn't at Bromsberrow Heath, and only the Fool at Pershore. Evesham, Peopleton and White Ladies Aston did, while Much Wenlock also blacked their hands and the Pershore Not-for-Joes blackened faces and hands and also varnished their nails.

I occasionally dance with Black Jack Morris, based in the Evesham area, who try to maintain the traditions of our area as well as possible. We do the traditional dances at the traditional times: we
do nothing at all during BST, but once the clocks go back we practice up to Christmas, and dance out after New Year in local villages, usually on a Friday or Saturday, always after dark. And the start of Summer Time brings an end to our season. Our costume is based upon the available descriptions of the Bengeworth dancers, as is the blackened face.

Evesham is on the cusp between the Border and Cotswold traditions: within ten miles or so can be found the Cotswold traditions of Chipping Campden, Ilmington and Bidford-on-Avon, and the local sides here take great pains to maintain their local traditions and to display them around the local villages. I dance for Shakespeare MM of Stratford-upon-Avon, guardians of the Bidford dances, as well as performing with the Shakespeare Mummers, who have a repertoire of about a dozen plays collected in local villages, and take a different play out each winter round the area. Like the morris, the Mummers play has been touched by the influence of the minstrel show, but here there is much more evidence for the prevalence of blackface before the 1830s.

In the last 15 years we have done much to dilute this influence: we have searched (in vain) for evidence of the songs sung prior to the 1830s. We used to have a rota of three songs traditionally sung by the old (ca 1900) mummers at the end of the play, all from the minstrels (Old Bob Ridley, Camptown Races and Not For Joe): the group has made no formal decision but the first two are now rarely if ever sung, and the line "We had a little N*** and he grew no bigger" in NFJ has been changed to "We had a little Mummer and he was no strummer". (But we have kept the Uncle Billy verse unchanged). We still black up, but Father Christmas has a RED face and Sweet Moll a WHITE one: I have personally never been comfortable with the all-over uniform deep black, and tend to be blotchy and probably more grey than black in places. At the start of each performance our Captain gives an introductory talk about the history of mumming and the reason for the blacking, and the rest of us are often engaged in conversation afterwards by spectators anxious to know more.

The more information we can spread about what we do and why we do it the better. I am not ashamed to black up for either morris or mumming, but I have no desire to cause unnecessary offence, and am always willing to explain my understanding of what it means and why I do it. Ruth Archer has said that the link with minstrels is inextricable: you could say that so is the link between the BNP and the English Flag and St George. I disagree with both views, and am engaged in trying to extricate both Border and Mumming and St George's day and the flag from the pool of ignorance in which many well-meaning but ill-informed liberals dwell and to prevent these cultural gems from becoming the tool of the fascist scum who would use it to fan persecution mania.

I am English, and proud to be so. But I do not feel my Englishness threatened or diminished by members of other races or cultures living here. I am proud to have been an early joiner of FAF (and similar groups) on Facebook, and would never knowingly offer any comfort or assistance to anyone I knew to espouse fascist views, be they morris dancer, mummer or Middle Bar singer (Yes. I'm also one of them).


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: curmudgeon
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 05:38 PM

An observation from across the pond...

I only came to this thread today and have not read quite all of it, but when I went to the Motley Morris web page,with the top hatted, sooty faced lot, my first thought was " Ahh, chimney sweeps!"

Many years ago when I plied that trade, I spent some time in "London Labour and the London Poor" to get an idea of the history and traditions. While I don't have a copy of Mayhew, I do recall that he stated that May 1st was considered by the sweeps to be their own holiday, and that they would parade with their brushes and brooms while escorting a Jack-In-the-Green.

Any connections in your minds?

Carry on the struggle - Tom Hall


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Snuffy
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 05:50 PM

Oh, my name it is Sam Tom Hall, chimney sweep, chimney swee-ee-eep ...


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 06:01 PM

I wonder if the idea of blacking up for entertainment might actually have started back in England, and only subsequently been adopted and adapted over in the USA in a very different context.

In any case there is no kind of long-standing tradition of dancing Border Morris in Kent. That's not to say people haven't every right to dance what they want where they want - but there are no grounds for claiming that the way they do it should be treated as sacrosanct tradition which cannot be changed.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 06:39 PM

Thanks for the long and thoughtful comment, Snuffy. I'll take issue on one minor point -

I find it ironic that Border dancers get slammed on here for denying that there is any connection with Minstrels. And at the same time they are slammed for "gleefully" publishing information showing that there undoubtedly was a connection between "Niggering" and the minstrels. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

It's more a case of "damned if you celebrate and damned if you try and ignore".

You say that you're

am engaged in trying to extricate both Border and Mumming and St George's day and the flag from the pool of ignorance in which many well-meaning but ill-informed liberals dwell

and I've got a lot of sympathy with that position. All I'd say is, let Border be Border, and let traditional be traditional. If there's a history of blacked-up faces in a particular area, then it's part of the tradition in that area. Equally, if there's a tradition of yellow faces and red wigs in a particular area, then that's part of the tradition in that area. But if the local tradition is bog-standard Cotswold - or if there is no local tradition, as far as anyone can tell - then there's no particular reason for blacking up, and there's absolutely no reason for insisting on blacking up.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: meself
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 07:18 PM

Two comments:

1) How could anyone think that the practice of something called "n*gg*ring" might possibly have racist overtones?

2) I don't think you'll have to worry about that particular Head Teacher having anything further to do with Morris for a long, long time.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Guest JeffB
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 09:14 PM

This thread has obviously gone long past the point where anyone is going to be persuaded to change their minds, even though there have been valid points made on both sides.

There are facts a-plenty about tradition, history, intention etc, but facts are only useful for basing opinions on. For instance, the Shropshire Bedlams seem to have been a major influence in popularising Border Morris (and John Kirkpatrick says quite clearly that they black-up solely for dramatic effect). Whether a practice going back to the early 70s counts as a "tradition" is purely a matter of opinion about which people are bound to disagree. Whether it goes back further is perhaps a pointless question if some people believe (and it's fair enough that they might) that 35-40 years is long enough to establish a "tradition" or "custom" or whatever.

Similarly, other considerations about what instruments are "traditional" and therefore proper, and whether a debateable association with Nigger Minstrelsy "taints" modern pratice, and whether Nigger Minstrels were deriding black people in the first place, are all just personal opinions which can be talked about endlessly.

The consensus seems to be that Border Morris blacks-up for dramatic effect without any racial intention, but because very few of the general public ever see Border Morris, some of us are concerned that blackface will be judged as a crude racist dig. Of course, some people from ethnic minorities may well assume this, and they probably have good reason from bitter experience for doing so. But for me, the answer is not to drop part of the "tradition" because of this possibilty, but to make the most of the opportunity to widen the debate to the non-folk public in order to explain the tradition in particular and morris in general, with a view to getting people of all creeds and colours dancing.

I heard a story recently (I don't think it's an urban myth but for the life of my I can't remember where I got it from). An Englishman visiting New York went into a cafe and ordered a black coffee. The waitress - a black lady - stared at him aghast, then called for her supervisor, also a black lady. They asked him to repeat his order, and then said in disgust "You are one sicko", or words to that effect. It's a story which I found both laughable and dismaying. It points up how hypersensitivity can become paranoia and lead to a mindless and insensitive knee-jerk. It's the sort of thing which gives PC a bad name. Some people, black or white, are more easily offended than others, and some choose to be offended without looking for a reasonable explanation. It's perhaps pre-emptive counter-aggression, and while while we can understand why it happens, it needs to be neutralised, because it's an extreme reaction and extreme reactions only escalate problems.

One of my songs is "Fathom the Bowl", which includes the line "my wife she's a devil and black as the coal". Should the line be changed? Discuss.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Dead Horse
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 10:26 PM

I wonder if the school simply wanted a morris side and was unaware of anything wrong with blackface until some pc mad do-badder pointed it out to them?
It would never occur to me that there was a racist overtone to blacking up - indeed I used to black up myself when I was a member of Dead Horse Morris.
None of their members were in any way racist, nor was their founder, Mark Lawson, who was also co-founder of Bishop Gundulfs (non blacked up) and the Blacksmiths weekend at Lewes (blacked up).
If a morris side chooses to black up or not, it is their choice, and not to be dictated by the pc brigade( may they rot in hell).
The original blacking up WAS done for disguise, but as time passed, I expect they became associated in the minds of the ignorant with Nigger Minstrels, and unfortunately the dancers decided to go along with that image and not correct that ignorance. The folk in those sides were probably equally as ignorant. Nigger Black may well have been the name on the tins of blacking they used. But they did not go out of their way to lampoon people of colour.
To demand that Border, Molly or any other other tradition shun blacking their faces is an injustice not welcome in a free thinking society.
Nor should sides choosing to black up have to explain in advance that their choice is not based on any racial motives - although I think it encumbant upon them to dispel that notion should it be put to them.
Full marks to Motley for not cowtowing to the schools wish to dance without blacking up.
Zero marks to the school for missing a chance to educate the so called "masses" who see this tradition as racist.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: meself
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 10:36 PM

If you believe that story about the guy ordering the black coffee, you'll believe just about anything. And using it to try to make some point about blacking-up in Morris dancing - well, it astounds me. Or it would, if I hadn't been following Mudcat for a few years now ...

Anyway, I do remember the Black comedian Flip Wilson presenting that scenario in a skit in about 1968.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 02:16 AM

You're right; this thread has gone on for a fair time, and looking at the Dead Horse post, it's clear that for the unthinking majority thre's going to be no change of view. The same hackneyed phrases the pc brigae (may they rot in hell) etc
Well, thanks Dead Horse. I'm pc. Do you want me to rot in hell? How very kind.
But I will take issue with one point in Dead Horse's tirade: To demand that Border, Molly or any other other tradition shun blacking their faces is an injustice not welcome in a free thinking society.
I wasn't aware that anyone had demanded this. What there has been is a suggestion that border morris sides might consider reinventing yet another facet of their 'tradition'.
And market forces may yet determine that. As the Motley spokesman says in the BBC report of the incident, the side has lost three bookings in the past year because people objected to the black faces.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 03:10 AM

Just to update things a little.

I had a quick chat with Jim Snelling (secretary of Motley).

He made it very clear, that Motley did not have any issues with the school on their decision.
They (Motley) were asked if they would dance without blacking up.
Motley felt that as blacking up (based on disguise) is an integral part of their routine, that they declined the school's request to dance not blacked up.
So Motley do not have any issues with the school, but were obviosly disapointed at such short notice, not to be dancing.

So based on that conversation, I feel it is appropriate to send a further email to the school apologising for my original email.

I think the title of this thread is misleading. Motley were not banned. It was just not suitable for that school. End of story for me.

If Motley decide to change from totally blacking up based on this incident and use other colours, is something only they can decide at their AGM.

I am just happy that the incident was handled properly from both parties.

Les Worrall


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Royston
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 03:50 AM

Well said Les, that makes two of us (you and me) that have felt moved to apologise for our positions earlier in this debate. It shows that lively discourse is beneficial; a shame there aren't more folk that feel able to join us...because plenty should!!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 04:10 AM

"They asked him to repeat his order, and then said in disgust "You are one sicko", or words to that effect. It's a story which I found both laughable and dismaying."

As someone raised in America, I can tell you that "black coffee" is a perfectly common phrase there and I think your story is probably an urban myth.

Thanks very much for that, Les. It's an interesting development.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 04:19 AM

Good man Les. I've followed a similar path to you and Royston (I suspect a lot of other lurkers have too) and if I'd written to the school (as I did briefly consider doing) I hope I'd have been man enough to apologise too.

Tom (proud to be PC unless it's gone mad) Bliss


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 04:44 AM

Full marks to Motley for not cowtowing to the schools wish to dance without blacking up.
Zero marks to the school for missing a chance to educate the so called "masses" who see this tradition as racist.


But how would that process of 'education' actually work in practice? I think it would involve parents making complaints to the school; each of those complaints would have to be countered by a long and detailed explanation (from the school, who aren't exactly experts in all this). Some people would be satisfied, but others would ask more questions, calling for more explanations - and some might never be satisfied (there are always some). It would almost certainly make the local paper; it would probably get picked up by the local fascists; and the school would more than likely come out of it smelling of racism. Obviously they tried to avoid that scenario - who wouldn't?

As for Motley, how long have they been doing this again? What is it they're trying to defend - tradition or just force of habit? And what has this episode done for the image of Morris, or for Motley themselves? Full marks to them, indeed.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 04:59 AM

Nice one Les,

Your actions show huge integrity, which is pretty much what have come to expect from you.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 05:00 AM

Having said all of that, I think positions have got more polarised here than they are "on the ground" - from Les's comment it sounds as if Motley's response to the school was not so much "we refuse to kow-tow to the PC brigade", more "let's agree to differ". I still think Motley's position on this one is seriously mistaken, but we should acknowledge the difference between that position and some of the Daily Mail-isms that have been offered in their support.

Random thought about masking: how about whiting up? It looked pretty weird on Buster Keaton and Marcel Marceau.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 06:10 AM

I'd have thought black rugby-style stripes would have been sufficient if the intention is to disguise while looking as scary as possible (why is that, incidentally, is it because border steps are essentially skipping, so need to be macho'd up)?

I can see that the fashion for black clothes (now why does that ring a bell here?;-) would tend to suggest black make-up, but it needn't be full face. I just noticed some molly dancers in an old newspaper - looking like, well...

It's those unqualifiable images that do the damage. It's irrelevant whether people jump to wrong or right conclusions. They jump, and in their thousands.

Meanwhile a few dancers manage to put their case to a handful of people - and quite a few of them won't accept it.

Who benefits? Those who want to divide and rule.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Vic Smith
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 06:34 AM

Jeff B. wrote -
"One of my songs is "Fathom the Bowl", which includes the line "my wife she's a devil and black as the coal". Should the line be changed? Discuss."


I wouldn't sing that line - even though one of my all-time favourite groups, The Watersons recorded it.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 07:07 AM

there are examples of racism which include violence that need to be dealt with,and are much more important.
Tom Bliss makes a good point about brown/black striped faces.
Vic , could you qualify ,why you would not sing that line.
I dont think I would sing it either.
Vic ,would you sing this.
Donal OG.[Black as the coal is the heart inside me, black as the sloe is the grief that binds me,black as a bootprint in a shining hallway,twas you that blackened it forever and always],
do you then exclude the word Black mail , or blackening someones name, from from your vocabulary
should we stop using the word sinister,because it casts aspersions on left handed people.
Vic ,where do you personally draw the line ,and could you explain,your grounds,I am not necessarily disagreeing with you,but Ithink it would be useful if you qualified your views.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 07:08 AM

Why ever not.

I think we need to look at the verse

My wife she do disturb me when I'm laid at my ease
She does as she likes and she says as she please
My wife, she's a devil, she's black as the coal
Give me the punch ladle, I'll fathom the bowl

I read that to be in relation to the devil who is supposedly evil and its association with the colour black.

Next you'll be stopping the black country being called the black country.

Or stop the Scots calling a particular brand of whiskey "Black Label"

Or stop calling "Black Pudding" black pudding

Or stop calling "blackcurrants" blackcurrants.

Maybe all colours should be banned from the English language, for fear it will offend anybody of any colour or creed.

When will this ever stop.

I strikes me that there are a bunch of people who deliberately look for anyway of finding something offensive in anything that mentions black.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 07:18 AM

LOL Seems like you hit the submit button quicker than me there Captain.

A few others

"Black and Tan" which in my day related to a Guinness and a Mackeson in the same glass.

Why do we allow the New Zealand Rugby team to be called the "All Blacks" when clearly they aren't.

Should we ban the beer "Black Sheep"

As I said before, you won't be able to fart in your own toilet soon.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 07:23 AM

I read that to be in relation to the devil who is supposedly evil and its association with the colour black.

I'd agree with that. Traditionally the Devil was portrayed as black rather than red - as I remember there's a character in Jane Austen who mentions "the black gentleman" (meaning Old Nick), which gave me pause when I first saw it.

Next you'll be stopping the black country being called the black country.

Yawn. It would be really useful if commenters could stick to what people actually are doing and saying.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 07:29 AM

You should say that Pip. But I am fed up of the PC brigade trying to gag everything that is said and done and turning it into a race issue or "Oh my god, you shouldn't have said or done that, you might offend somebody".


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 07:32 AM

Whether a song is appropriate or not is all about context. There are times when Tom and I missed out a certain song we'd been planning to do because we felt it might make someone feel uncomfortable. If i was doing a schools workshop on Race and The Tradition, I might even sing a song with the n word, assuming the school were confortable with that level of debate.

When there's a line open to different interpretations as in FTB, I'd have no hesitation in saying it took it to mean black-hearted, then singing the song. There's no racist connotation in the association of black with darkness (either literal or figurative) - though there is in the association of dark skin with darkness.

The problem with street dancing is that there is only limited opportunity to set a context. Even if the squire were to bawl something about disguise to the crowd, many wouldn't catch it. Meanwhile the pictures continue to appear in the media, and assumptions are made unchallenged.

A chum once suggested to me that dancers cling to disguise not for fear of being recognised by their employers or the authorities, but for fear of being recognised by their friends! (oops - did I say that out loud?)

Tom


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 07:35 AM

Yes 'Black' was often used as a referent to the Devil rather than 'brown skinned peoples', especially as until more recent times, the majority of people would not a brown skinned person - so the reference would not have made much sense to many. Similarly terms like The Black Coalsmith would be another synonym for Old Nick I believe, due to the Black (ie: specifically not brown) colour of coal.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 07:36 AM

>>but for fear of being recognised by their friends! (oops - did I say that out loud?)
<<

Especially if they are wearing white trousers with bells on their knees and waving white handkerchiefs LOL :-)


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 07:44 AM

By contrast, in some songs, we hear terms such as "nut brown", or "berry brown" in relation to skin colour of women and horses for example.

What's that blasted ballad about 'The Brown Girl' from overseas, that some lord turns over for her dosh? She is contrasted with the lilly white woman, he supposedly loved but rejected because 'the brown girl' was wealthy.

Ah yeah, just found it: "Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-4M-Nnaxbw&feature=PlayList&p=B2D0D5657EA394E4&index=20


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 08:16 AM

Out of interest has anyone ever met any black people who look remotely like a blacked up white Morris dancer? I would be seriously offended if I was black and told that I looked like a middle class white man with black make up on.

Like I said before. Those who cannot or will not see the difference between this and genuine racism are, in my opinion, being particulary obtuse.

DeG


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 08:45 AM

David, there are indeed different levels of racism, but to ignore the casual, the habitual or, more pertinently, the institutional (which the first two engender - and which can lead to some seriously unacceptable behaviour) just because they are not as immediately damaging as the violent is to miss a crucial point.

We can easily take for granted the liberties most of us enjoy in Britain today. But they exist only because enlightened people in the past have been prepared to struggle against casual, habitual and institutional oppression.

Anyone who has suffered bullying at school or at work knows that it doesn't have to be violent to be damaging.

There is no clear criterion here. Blacking is a complex issue isn't always unacceptable per se. It's all about attitude - and if your attitude is to avoid offence, and/or to avoid association with more overt racism then you have a duty honestly to ask yourself some serious questions.

My problem is people merely saying, we're right now because we were right before, and therefore everyone else is wrong.

Folk is at a crossroads just now. How can we choose the right road if our minds are closed?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Guest JeffB
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 09:09 AM

Thanks Ruth for letting me know that asking for black coffee is fine in New York State. Looks like it was an urban myth after all, though it doesn't detract from my point. Meself, it's easy to sneer and perhaps I deserve it for being gullable, but honestly, in these days of frantic paranoid PC who can say I was entirely foolish to be mislead. The fact that a radical black comedian found extreme (though fictional) PC views derisory 40 years ago might be of interest.

Incidentally, just got my latest copy of Folklife West Journal which has a short article on the Brimfield (Herefordshire) Border Morris side of 1909. It mentions that they blacked up, but some had white paint patches. The illustration shows one member with white circles around his eyes, and another with a white area around eyes and nose.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 09:11 AM

There is no clear criterion here. Blacking is a complex issue isn't always unacceptable per se.

Exactly, Tom. By the same token it is not always unacceptable either. Each case should rest on it's merits and it seems that here the merits of this case were not considered before minds were closed.

Having said that, Les's post about the team does put the situation in perspective. The team are happy about the situation. So is the school. Yet another case of the press making the news rather than reporting it maybe?

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Vic Smith
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 09:25 AM

In answer to the following questions -

1] Vic , could you qualify ,why you would not sing that line.
I dont think I would sing it either.

I think I chose my words badly there. I think I should have said that I would not sing that verse rather than that line.
As quoted above the verse goes:-
My wife she do disturb me when I'm laid at my ease
She does as she likes and she says as she please
My wife, she's a devil, she's black as the coal
Give me the punch ladle, I'll fathom the bowl

....and I find these lines misogynist and I would not be happy singing them - nothing to do with "black" or "racism".

Interestingly, you may know that we regularly book the Copper Family at our folk club and there's something that clearly made Bob Copper uncomfortable in his last few years.
The Coppers always finished off with Bob singing Oh! Good Ale. and in his last few years, after he had sung the lines -
And if my wife did me despise
How soon I'd give her two black eyes......

Bob would pause and look up to the heavens and address his dead wife, saying, "I'm sorry, Joan love. You know I don't mean it..... It's in the song, you see." So even the leading icon of English traditional song and one of the stalwarts of the tradition obviously felt uncomfortable with the misogynism and tried to soften it.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Vic ,would you sing this.
Donal OG.
Black as the coal is the heart inside me,
Black as the sloe is the grief that binds me,
Black as a bootprint in a shining hallway,
T'was you that blackened it forever and always.

I find this verse to be amongst the most beautiful and poetic in the whole folk song genre. I would not sing it personally for I feel that it is a exclusively a song of a woman's grief. However, my wife does sing it and she will tell you that it is one of her songs that I am most likely to request. A woman is giving vent to her black mood and downcast feelings. Again, nothing to do with racism.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
do you then exclude the word Black mail
No, it has no racist connotations
or blackening someones name, from from your vocabulary
No, it has no racist connotations
should we stop using the word sinister,because it casts aspersions on left handed people.
Eh? Where did that one come from?
could you explain,your grounds,I am not necessarily disagreeing with you,but Ithink it would be useful if you qualified your views.
I hope that I have done so here.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Why ever not.
Please see my first response in this posting.
Next you'll be stopping the black country being called the black country.
Or stop the Scots calling a particular brand of whiskey "Black Label"
Or stop calling "Black Pudding" black pudding
Or stop calling "blackcurrants" blackcurrants.
Maybe all colours should be banned from the English language, for fear it will offend anybody of any colour or creed.

Are these supposed to be serious questions? I suppose I'd better treat them as such!
OK then. I have no problem with the use of Black Country, Black Label, Black Pudding, blackcurrants, blackberries, blackthorn, Black letter press, Black Market, Black Rod, blacksmith, the Blackwatch regiment, the Black Rood of Scotland, blackleg for a strike-breaker, blackout during an air raid, Black and Tan as a drink. The All-Blacks, Black Sheep beer (Can I stop now?)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
How pleasant after all that to get a breath a fresh air and a few words of sense from Tom Bliss.
Whether a song is appropriate or not is all about context. There are times when Tom and I missed out a certain song we'd been planning to do because we felt it might make someone feel uncomfortable. If i was doing a schools workshop on Race and The Tradition, I might even sing a song with the n word, assuming the school were confortable with that level of debate.

When there's a line open to different interpretations as in FTB, I'd have no hesitation in saying it took it to mean black-hearted, then singing the song. There's no racist connotation in the association of black with darkness (either literal or figurative) - though there is in the association of dark skin with darkness.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 09:33 AM

I'd be interested in seeing some kind of comment from Motley Morris on the post from "GUEST,Rick H" (30 Jun 09 - 11:45 AM) where he claimed to be a member of Motley Morris, and went on to say of Grevesend "Unfortunately it also has a large Chav/Pikey community and has recently started getting a lot of Eastern Europeans and a few Afro Caribbean residents."

Because if that really is how Motley Morris members think and talk, they certainly shouldn't be invited into schools to dance.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 09:35 AM

Vic,thankyoufor your replies,I too find Donal og,one of the most beautiful songs,I do sing it,even though I am not a woman[yet].


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Dave Masterson
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 09:51 AM

McG - see DizzyLisa 01 Jul 09 - 06:11 AM


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 10:28 AM

300,
definition of sinister=of evil omen;on left side of shield,or left
dexter=right,someone who is dextrous , good with their hands.
unfair to left handers


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 10:33 AM

I am in the somewhat unusual position of agreeing with almost everything Tom Bliss says :) I couldn't have put what I think about the "blacking up" issue better myself.


Erm Les,

I can't remember anyone suggesting we ban the word "black" or not use it in any of the contexts you describe. Now that would be really, really silly and Political Correctness gone mad.

However, if I thought someone WAS going to be OFFENDED, I would think carefully about using any term. Simple good manners.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 10:52 AM

Paul

Do you spend very waking hour thinking of whom you might offend? Presumably you never leave you house - assuming you live in a house because that might offend those who do not, but then, not living in a house might offend those that do...

Any way, offending and being offended is a valuable part of life.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 10:59 AM

p*ss off Morris-ey.......... ha,ha,ha!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Bill Brown
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 11:12 AM

">Put yourself in the shoes of someone black and then consider if you might be offended by the "blacking up".

How wonderfully patronizing. How can anybody not black imagine what growing up in a mainly white country is like and assume what they would feel?"

-------

They don't need to, they can just assume non-whites might be as thin-skinned as all the white people on this thread who take offense to their "tradition" (all 30 years of it) being criticized.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 11:31 AM

You have just offended me Banjiman, telling Morris-ey to p*ss off

You banjo players are all the same :-) LOL


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: BB
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 12:27 PM

"My wife she do disturb me when I'm laid at my ease
She does as she likes and she says as she please"
"I find these lines misogynist and I would not be happy singing them"

Shame, Vic, it would stop me doing my usual, and saying, 'Quite right, too!' :-)

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Dead Horse
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 12:37 PM

It is the pc brigade that my vitriol is aimed at.
It is they who with their self righteous attitude stir up race, religeous or feminist rancour toward things that are completely devoid of any such intent.
If my wife disturbed ME while I sat at my ease, if she did all she wants, and said whatever she felt like, without recourse to moral or social mores, then I should complain! Be it in fun (as I take it this verse is) in the verse of a song about men drinking in the company of other men. It is not mysogany(sp) any more that calling her "black as a coal" is racist. But if the pc brigade make enough noise about it, all those who choose to sing this song as written will be considered mysoganistic and racist by the ordinary folk who are influenced by their rhetoric.
As for giving the wife two black eyes, do you really suggest that this is a serious call for physical abuse against females to be promoted?
Sure it would be shocking if it were a song written today, but it is a song written yonks ago when such things were accepted, and sung with a slightly comical emphasis today as a dig at our forefathers attitudes. I wouldnt sing it in a home for battered wives, but I wouldnt have the verse banned either.
So YES, burn in hell, for all the harm you do in the name of good.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 12:44 PM

So YES, burn in hell, for all the harm you do in the name of good.
Why thank you. And have a nice day yourself!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 01:31 PM

That Mr Dead Horse is a nice guy isn't he!

It's hot near these flames I can tell you.


"I wouldnt sing it in a home for battered wives".... and that is the point, I don't think anyone, anywhere on this thread has called for the banning of anything. Just that a little thought is put into what is appropriate in any given situation.

Simple good manners!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 01:48 PM

Bit of a thread drift, but I'm thinking of learning 'A Stitch in Time'. So if anyone sings a song about giving a wife 'two black eyes', there's my repost!

Not intentionally learned on that basis, but it'll be there in my repertiore, because I love the song ...and of course in the flow of a singaround, it would be the perfect repost to a song about wife bashing.

I'd hope that folk clubs can continue to accomodate strong and diverse expressions of real ordinary folk experience. Because I feel that the folk at the clubs I sing with, would no more be offended by the wife bashing than the "battered and bleeding husband"?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Vic Smith
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 01:52 PM

Dead Horse,
Thank you for your good wishes, given above, and may I in return wish nothing but the best for you and yours.

My daughter manages a refuge hostel for battered women and their children, conducts much outreach work in homes where physical and mental abuse takes place and makes many court appearances supporting her clients.
One of her main complaints is of abusers trying to make light of their actions, even to give their actions a humorous bent.

If you are happy with songs that have "jokes" like.....

My wife she is the devil
She's black as the coal



and

And if my wife would me despise,
How soon I'd give her two black eyes


....then you continue to sing them. All I'm saying is I don't find them funny and don't want to sing or listen to them.
My own experience after 44 years of marriage is to thank my lucky stars, how very fortunate I am. The best thing I ever did was to marry my wife.
Let me finish have a couple of lines from a song that I would approve of -

We loved each other dearly and disputes we seldom had,
As constant as a pendulum, our hearts were ever glad.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 02:11 PM

Vic.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U25LH7i93XUI would appreciate it if you would give this you tube clip one star


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 02:14 PM

As a border morris dancer I'd like to point out that never once at any stand has anyone made a complaint that they found it racist or in immitation of black people, who as far as I know don't tend to walk around in tatter jackets, top hats with feathers or bells. On the contrary I can recount a number of occasions where black people have come up & said how enjoyable they found the performance. In one instance a young black lady from London came over & asked the origin of the costume and said she thought it was fantastic, and wished there was something like it in London.

Unfortunately there are a minority of white people who have an obsession with being offended on the behalf of others, without first asking said parties if they really do find it such an issue, and that I find patronising in the extreme.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Dead Horse
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 02:39 PM

Well done Mr Duffy.
Now can you help Vic get his head out of his nether regions.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 02:43 PM

And as a border musician I can say that people have remarked on blackface. Big deal Martin - it's about consideration. It's an invented 'tradition', so it can change. My side changed to black and white.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 02:53 PM

Just a thought. Is fake tan (or even tanning studio tan) politically correct?

It goes back to WW2 when ladies used make-up to simulate stockings so perhaps it is traditional.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 03:20 PM

It comes to something, dunnit, when simple good manners, consideration for others and trying to see the other person's point of view get rebranded from trying to be a reasonably decent human being to "PC gone mad" and cause for those who espouse such matters to "burn in hell" ...

Seems to me there's a lot of very selfish people out there, who go around castigating anything they don't like the sound of as "PC" as a handy cover for doing and saying what the hell they want and sod the consequences. I guess it's the end result of thirty years of Thatcherism in all its various forms and the ascendency "no such thing as society" me-me-me crew.

I think it's a shame that some people think the right to offend is a basic human right. Whatever happened to compromise, rubbing along and trying to make the best of things?

Seems to me that the school and the Morris Side were more adult about this than some of the people on this thread.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 03:21 PM

the ascendency of the "no such thing as society" me-me-me crew.

Sorry, hit "submit" too early.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,The hammer (newby)
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 04:14 PM

having read and re read this and many other threads, may i as a newby state an unbiased outside view,
1 everyone started out supporting motley

2 then everyone looked for a reason why they supported motley

3 then folks start tearing into each other, gently i admit

4 everyone then looks for reasons why anyone outside of motley should change colour of make up,

5 then i got bored

why oh why does everything seem to end up with someone getting offended about everything.

i love morris like folk but my goodness some of these threads are just a waste of time. sorry but im no way gonna stay with mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 04:22 PM

Have you also noticed that the person who started the thread has not posted since.
I wonder why?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 04:34 PM

"why oh why" - curious the way this has taken on the same connotations as letters to the press written in green iink...


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: SallyM
Date: 02 Jul 09 - 08:28 PM

Well my goodness what a discussion this has become ! Yes it was me who started this thread having noticed the article pop up on the BBC website (when I should have been working !), and I thought it would be of interest to some mudcatters. However I haven't been able to view the subsequent discussion since via my work computer, as apparently the thread postings contained some offensive words which my work IT system then blocked !!

Now having found a few minutes to catch up on mudcat at home - in between playing at sessions, learning a new song, and restringing my fiddle - I think I am starting to feel perhaps the same as 'Guest The Hammer (newby)' 3 posts back. Having read, then scanned, then scrolled through a lot of the heated discussion - most of which notably seems to have been between a few individuals it seems, I was starting to get a bit bored with it all.
Generally I do find Mudcat very interesting and useful for some informed debate and knowledge about songs tunes etc. However clearly some people have more time on their hands to argue at length - or maybe the current heatwave in the UK is getting to them.
Just for the record, putting in my 'penny's worth'. I do think it a shame that Motley Morris were not able to pursuade the school to let them dance blacked up, and I wonder how much effort they put into this. Did they offer to give a talk to the audience/teachers/pupils about their costume? Did they suggest providing leaflets explaining their tradition to give out on the day ?

Sal the Gal


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 03 Jul 09 - 02:10 AM

Come on Sal
Do you really think that putting this thread up on here would do anything other than start a large heated debate about the issue?
If not then you must be very naive, which I don't think you are.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 03 Jul 09 - 03:03 AM

Your questins Sal

Why don't you do what I did and ring them and ask the questions. You will get it straight from the horses mouth then.

Do come back and tell us how you got on.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: theleveller
Date: 03 Jul 09 - 04:25 AM

Well, I have to say that running around with dirty faces and ragged clothes, hitting each other with sticks, is not setting a good example to impressionable Morris Men. I'd leave those kids to it.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: dilligafxx
Date: 03 Jul 09 - 04:35 AM

The Britannia coconut dancers date back to the 18th century and have blacked up in all that time,.www.coconutters.co.uk they do their own dances omititely not border. Witch doctors in the Amazon put white clay on their faces to frighten people, as do a lot of the African tribes. My fear is we are all getting too PC in this country and will end up doing nothing in the fear of offending someone.It may turn into a very grey and dull world. My friends from other parts of the world think it,s funny we take all this so seriously.What happened to respecting and accepting peoples cultures and traditions however different from our own and live and let live xx


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Jul 09 - 04:59 AM

Exlnt,

its so refreshing to find at least one person who has read and thought about all the other posts in this thread

Best wishes

L in C


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Chris P
Date: 03 Jul 09 - 05:58 AM

"The Britannia coconut dancers date back to the 18th century"
In point of fact not so. Various morris dancings per se go back a long way in the area, but the furthest back this particular manifestation has been traced is 1857.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: greg stephens
Date: 03 Jul 09 - 06:09 AM

There is a lot of talk, very valid, saying basically it's not nice to offend people. Well, up to a point, yes. But has anybody actually managed to locate anyone who has been offended yet?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 03 Jul 09 - 06:13 AM

Greg,

I don't know, is this parent from the school offended?

"To black up in this day and age is taking things too far. I know it was a diversity day and it was supposed to help bind cultures together but having a bunch of white guys with black faces turn up at a primary school and prance about is just plain wrong and would have caused confusion among the kids."


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Jul 09 - 06:15 AM

Yes

L in C


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 03 Jul 09 - 06:18 AM

No, it's the usual nonsence of idiot masculines and feminines being offended on behalf of others. It's as bad as the degendering of words - headteacher for head mistress, server for waitress etc


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Jul 09 - 06:22 AM

God I love irony, don't you?

L in C


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 03 Jul 09 - 06:43 AM

"The Britannia coconut dancers date back to the 18th century"
"In point of fact not so. Various morris dancings per se go back a long way in the area, but the furthest back this particular manifestation has been traced is 1857."

Indeed. At the height of the minstrel fashion.

Whatever other reasons there may be for blacking up, anyone who decides to do it has a duty to think about the minstrel influence carefully, and anyone who merely cites tradition and refuses to consider his position is not acting responsibly. If dancers do decide to continue their practice in full understanding of the issues then fair enough (though I'd hope they would take pains always to try to set a context, to proceed with caution, and where necessary to compromise). But sadly there is plenty of evidence on this thread that many will merely dig in their heels.

I get a strong impression at some recent posters have not actually read the thread. Far better informed people than me have explained the complexity of this below, and it's very sad to see people still claiming the tradition excuse (since when was tradition more important than fair play, by the way?), and still equating black face in England with white face in Africa - where there was never any taint of lampooning.

A few broad-minded people of colour expressing interest or support to dancers tells us nothing about the thousands, millions, who may feel very differently, but say nothing - not least because they saw the faces on TV or in newspapers and made their own assumptions.

This is not just about giving offence (though that would be reason enough for change), but about providing ammunition to those who want to subvert English folk culture for political ends. So even if you're one of those heard-hearted people (usually well-provided males) who honestly don't care who they offend, you need to think about that. And if you still decide it doesn't matter, then be aware that a few years down the road the general public may be putting you in a box you'd rather not inhabit. (And as for those who enjoy being that box, well, we'll see you at the polling station).

And can I just finish with a word of support for bleeding-heart liberals? My great great grandfather William Bliss was a philanthropist and a Utopian Socialist who, like Salt, Cadbury, Owen and Rowntree took pains to treat his mill workers decently. Another ancestor, Ebeneezer Howard, inspired and guided the Garden City Movement (which influenced slum-clearance and the development social housing) - and I'm proud to be descended from both these non-conformists. They understood the link between habitual attitudes and political freedoms - a link that's as important today as it was back then.

As you enjoy the 21stC England, one of the nicest places to live in the world, spare a thought for the bleeding-heart liberals who abolished slavery, gave women the vote, outlawed dangerous work practices, invented the NHS, gave us pensions, unemployment and sickness benefit and all the other trappings that only the deeply selfish would take for granted.

The is not about political correctness gone mad. It's about learning to take responsibility for our actions.

Lets not forget - this happened around a public event at a primary school. There are ways it's sensible to proceed in those situations, and ways that are not.

The head teacher made a small understandable error, which she tried to correct, and when she couldn't she did the responsible thing.

Fair play to her.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Jul 09 - 01:45 PM

Extremely well said Tom

Thanks
Les


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 04 Jul 09 - 12:03 PM

No one likes to be told what their "duty" is or how or what to think; and there is a world of difference between the emancipators of decades ago and the actions of a few morris persons who choose to black their faces. Tolerance is not a one way street, either


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 04 Jul 09 - 12:34 PM

Guilty as charged, but as you may have noticed I find preachiness the lesser of two evils.

At Cleckheaton today I saw sides with painted-on 'highwayman' masks. Completely effective, and presenting no danger of sending a (possibly) unintentional message.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: DMcG
Date: 04 Jul 09 - 12:34 PM

There was a mention above of this: a well-respected Muslim scholar speaking on (probably) the Today Programme on the subject of political correctness. His view was that if English people can't respect and celebrate their own traditions how can they respect those of others.

Is the Morris Federation or any similar group collecting these comments, so that a substantial information pack could be sent to schools like this? It seems to me to be exactly the kind of thing the Ring, etc, should have to hand, or start preparing if they don't.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Jul 09 - 04:54 PM

It still strikes me that any dance team with a member who can write "Unfortunately (Gravesend) also has a large Chav/Pikey community and has recently started getting a lot of Eastern Europeans and a few Afro Caribbean residents," and subsequently be described by a fellow member as "one of the nicest people you could hope to meet" has quite a lot of explaining to do before it should be allowed near any school.

Context makes all the difference when it comes to the meaning of something like blacking up - and part of the context has to be a comment like that. Perhaps Rick H doesn't in fcat regard Travellers, Eastern Europeans and Afro-Caribbeans as people whose presence in his town is to be deplored. But that is the import of what he wrote.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 05 Jul 09 - 03:26 AM

Whilst some of you are concerned about Morris teams blacking up, something far worse is happening in the Midlands.

http://www.sundaymercury.net/news/midlands-news/2009/07/05/islamic-sharia-law-courts-operating-in-west-midlands-66331-24075255/

Makes this thread rather petty.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Chris P
Date: 05 Jul 09 - 03:45 AM

Villan, that doesn't look at all relevant to this discussion, much as I dislike any religious nonsense of any flavour. Perhaps I should say something caustic about bishops in the House of Lords affecting our legal system? What has that got to do with blacking up?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 05 Jul 09 - 04:01 AM

Not a lot really but far more serious.

I have created a seperate thread in BS


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 05 Jul 09 - 05:27 AM

celebrate their own traditions

To what extent can Morris Dancing be said to be actually traditional, as opposed to a revivalist re-invention? And to what extent can blacking-up be said to be an integral part of that tradition, revived, fakeloric or otherwise?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: BB
Date: 05 Jul 09 - 03:25 PM

Ah, but then we get into the whole argument of 'what is traditional?' If you're querying whether Morris Dancing is traditional, to what extent is *anything* 'traditional'? Or are you just talking about so-called 'Border' Morris? Blacking up is not an integral part of most Morris Dancing, certainly.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 09 - 04:07 PM

just what I thought,Barbara


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: bubblyrat
Date: 05 Jul 09 - 05:09 PM

Paradoxically, as a child/teenager in the 1950s and early 1960s, I was completely protected from any contact with,or reference too,this vile,unspeakable practice ! There were NO Morris dancers of any sort in Midhurst,W Sussex, nor yet in Henley-On-Thames,the Grammar Schools of which august communities I was priveleged to attend.We did,however,sing songs,during our music lessons,such as " I never saw the like,since I been born,as a big Buck Nigger withe sea-boots on...." etc. Oh, the shame of it !! But then,one day,not long after I joined the Royal Navy,about 1965 I think, I visited Sidmouth for the first time,attended a Folk Festival there,and was seduced/entranced by what I heard & saw---"This is English Tradition and Culture at its historical finest !" I thought. How little did I think,in those heady,magical,days,that 44 years later,the same festival would be taken over by the Politically Correct Apologists !! Poor Cecil must be turning in his grave !
                So now,we have people from other cultures,other faiths,and other anthropological origins,forcing some of us to undergo radical changes to our cultural traditions,even if they haven't asked us to,on the off-chance that it might offend them !! And would they do the same for us ?? If I went to Egypt on holiday,would some senior cleric stop the Muezzin from calling the Faithful to prayer,in case I found it (actually, I find it rather moving !) offensive ?? No, of COURSE not.So why don't we GROW UP,stop aplogising for every bloody aspect of our Englishness ,or Britishness,and if there are those who don't like it ?? Well, to quote Jeremy Taylor ".....you know what you can do !! " And I hope those Morris sides who have "blacked up", or anything -upped,for the last ten years,fifty years,or two hundred years,continue to stand by their principles and not give in to the hand-wringing,sackcloth-wearing self-flagellators who would destroy our history over a bit of face-paint !!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 05 Jul 09 - 06:02 PM

So now,we have people from other cultures,other faiths,and other anthropological origins,forcing some of us to undergo radical changes to our cultural traditions,even if they haven't asked us to,on the off-chance that it might offend them !! And would they do the same for us ?? If I went to Egypt on holiday,would some senior cleric stop the Muezzin from calling the Faithful to prayer,in case I found it (actually, I find it rather moving !) offensive ?? No, of COURSE not.So why don't we GROW UP,stop aplogising for every bloody aspect of our Englishness ,or Britishness,and if there are those who don't like it ?? Well, to quote Jeremy Taylor ".....you know what you can do !! " And I hope those Morris sides who have "blacked up", or anything -upped,for the last ten years,fifty years,or two hundred years,continue to stand by their principles and not give in to the hand-wringing,sackcloth-wearing self-flagellators who would destroy our history over a bit of face-paint !!

Bubblyrat - you complete and utter twat.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 03:01 AM

And this thread's prize for "Just Not Getting It" goes to Bubblyrat for that barnstorming late entry!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 03:31 AM

My sincerest apologies for that last post; rather drunk last night I'm afraid! Let's hope Bubblyrat was too...


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Chris P
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 03:54 AM

I too went to Grammar School in the 1960's, but my education was rather limited by it. Thankfully I have filled in some gaps since.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 04:01 AM

Ah, but then we get into the whole argument of 'what is traditional?' If you're querying whether Morris Dancing is traditional, to what extent is *anything* 'traditional'?

I don't think it's a matter of 'what is traditional' so much as it is understanding what Morris Dancing is in terms of its revival & reinvention during the 20th Century and the various levels of fakelore and fakehistory that has arisen around it. All of this is interesting in and of itself of course and I'm sure would make a fascinating study, but to call 21st Century Morris Dancing a Traditional Aspect of our culture is, I fear going too far, especially if that particular Mythconception is used to justify backing-up which in the current political and social climate is just plain idiocy. One would hope even the Brittania Mills Coconut Dancers would desist from such a practice in the name of a humanism which is surely greater than any tradition which, in this instance, is just so-much reactionary clap-trap.

Enshrined in the very notion of folklore is the notion of mutability with respect of transference and usage wholly contextualised within a broader social reality. As that reality changes, so does the truly traditional, by way of a consideration of nothing so simple as circumstance. Whatever folkloric justification as might have existed for blacking-up has been truly transcended by the political & cultural realities of the present day whereby no such justification can ever make this acceptable.

The only tradition that should be of any concern to us is the tradition of empathic concern for our fellow human beings. The tradition of Good Sense is, I feel, something truly worthwhile.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 04:04 AM

"over a bit of face-paint !!"

If it's only a bit of face paint, why worry about it having to be black?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 04:09 AM

why worry about it having to be black?

For a few musings on this very subject on this see this post HERE.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 05:56 AM

Aye, animals/wild men/natural disguise is all good: Horned Pict Mask, Raven Mask, Wild Man, Drunken Folk God
And here's a lovely traditional dance where they use red paint: An excuse to watch a clip from one of my favourite films...


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 06:05 AM

...is used to justify backing-up...

And what exactly is your gripe with constipated Morris Dancers, Mr O'P?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Mr Red
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 06:06 AM

Perhaps they should enlist the help of the Glamorous Grandma in Flash Company, I think she would carry a stronger message if she wished to be involved.

As Flash Company show, there are fashions in Morris, as in any living pursuit. Morris sides, these days, paint their faces in whatever colour suits the side's preferrences. The PC brigade load their predjucies on YOU. Burnt cork is not paint, it is a whole universe. Like religion - it is a belief system and logic or fact have no place in stongly held beliefs.

Mind you - there have been a few sides who were better for hiding their identities in modern times as well, though for less commendable reasons.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 06:11 AM

Corman & Poe! A winning combination! It's been many a year since I've watched it, but I remember them weaving in the story of Hopfrog as - er - Hoptoad if I remember correctly. Which is the one where V.Price utters the immortal lines once paraphrased by Mark E. Smith (see HERE) as Those flowers take them away! They're only funeral decoration...


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 06:32 AM

In all this warring over justification of black masks, has anyone yet found the masses of black people who we are supposedly offending? What we have instead it seems are a large number of people being offended on their behalf without actually bothering to ask black people if they are actually offended.

Also, has anyone yet seen a border side blacked-up who resemble in any way shape or form a black person? The answer is no. Minstrels weren't just characterised by black faces - the dress, charicatures, mannerisms & music etc were deliberately a play on mimicking black people. Border dancers in tatter jackets, bells, oftentimes top-hats with feathers & so forth are not even remotely similar. To pretend the two are identical, whatever possible cross-fertilisation of ideas, is ridiculous.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 06:53 AM

Sorry to post this again, but clearly poster above has not bothered reading the thread.

Quote from parent at the school (racial origin unknown and irrelevant):

"To black up in this day and age is taking things too far. I know it was a diversity day and it was supposed to help bind cultures together but having a bunch of white guys with black faces turn up at a primary school and prance about is just plain wrong and would have caused confusion among the kids."


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 07:03 AM

I did read that post, but that is one parent amongst a whole population, and for that one person I'm sure I could have found at least one other who disagreed. Anyone can find at least one person to agree with them on anything, that doesn't make it a common concensus!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 07:17 AM

OK Martin,

You're quite right, I don't know if there is a concensus either way..... do you?

I just think in the absence of this evidence (either way), we in the folk/ morris world should tread carefully.

If the majority of dark skinned people were being upset or offended do you think all Morris sides who black up would stop?

Is it good manners to try and avoid offending anyone, if it is not impacting our "traditions" too much?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Bloke from Poole
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 07:25 AM

To requote the quote:

"To black up ... at a primary school and prance about..."
                                                    ^^^^^^^^^^^^

It's pretty clear that this person has a prejudiced view of Morris dancing, just from the choice of words. Not altogether a neutral and balanced opinion.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 07:26 AM

No, I agree, I don't know what the general concensus is, and I agree we should tread carefully. However, I likewise think it is patronising to assume how others feel without asking them directly - that's the way we treat children & those who we assume incapable of expressing themselves.

I have plenty of friends of differing ethnicity & none of them have ever found it racist, indeed most of them assume it has something to do with paganism & being gothic & weird. I am bewildered by anyone whose mind works in such a way that it can look at a modern day morris dancer & somehow imagine it resembles the dress & behaviour of a black person.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 07:38 AM

From some considerable way up the thread:

'Finally, a few people have said that it would be interesting to hear from a black person what they feel about all of this. Well, the article from EDS that I quoted earlier interviewed several people about the practice, including a dance caller named Nigel Hogg. This is what he had to say:

"I have watched many different dance groups around the country, and on certain occasions I have seen groups black up to perform. As a mixed race man I do find this tradition offensive because I see it as a parody mocking people of colour. I would imagine that the people who perform these dances are not racists, and on some levels the people involved have not even though about the implications these dances might have to people of colour." '


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 07:58 AM

Again, these are the odd single examples & don't constitute a common concensus, for every one of these I could cite a friend or person from dancing out of differing ethnicity who had no problem with it. If it was truley offensive we wouldn't have to be seeking out the odd individual to quote, we would have groups of people publically complaining, but I note we have yet to find such a thing.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 08:08 AM

So Martin,

It's alright to offend a minority is it? How many people need to be offended before it's not OK?

I repeat my question from above.....

"If the majority of dark skinned people were being upset or offended do you think all Morris sides who black up would stop?"

What are your own personal thresholds........ what % would need to be offended before you would be convinced that blacking up is not a good idea?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: TheSnail
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 08:22 AM

Banjiman doesn't quote his source so here it is.

The quoted statement is not a response to seeing blacked-up Morris dancers but to a question from a Daily Mail reporter. We don't know what that question was, nor do we know the skin colour of that parent.

I have kept out of this thread (apart from my sadly mistaken hope that Rick H was a troll) because I find a it a complex question with no easy answers. On the other hand, I think I know the significant questions -

Do non-white people take offence at morris dancers blacking up?

Do the morris dancers who black up intend to cause racist offence?

All the talk about minstrel show origins is fascinating but largely irrelevant; it is simply the blacking up that is the problem.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 08:29 AM

No, I agree it isn't alright to offend a minority, but it has to be recognised that it is impossible not to offend anyone all of the time. In the same way I know some women who think transvestism & drag is insulting to women as it mocks them, these are a minority, yet by your logic that would be enough to have them stop it.

Black-face morris to the majority is obviously not racist as is evident by the very fact that we don't have mass outrage every time a border side dances out. Consider in comparison what would happen if a minstrel group were to suddenly strike up in the streets. Ask the general person on the street what it means & they normally think it has something to do with paganism or being spooky.

I agree there are no easy answers, but to outrightly say all blacking-up in morris is offensive & that everyone should desist immediately is not a considered response either.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 08:47 AM

"& that everyone should desist immediately is not a considered response either. "

I don't think I've said anywhere that anyone should desist anything immediately, I've merely pointed out that some people may well be offended by blacking up.

Of course it is impossible not to offend everyone all of the time. Let's face it some people need offending....... I just think that you should always try and be aware of the impact you are creating.

If that impact is what you inteded, just go ahead and do it, if not, maybe you should think again.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 08:50 AM

Well that's something I can agree with!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Rumncoke
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 09:50 AM

I have tried to follow this - but might have missed it - someone surely has pointed out that pale skinned men out on nefarious and illegal business darken their hands and faces so as to be better able to hide, when out poaching, for instance.

Masks are all very well but are likely to be pulled askew and act more as a blindfold, or be pulled off and lost completely when moving through woodland or hedges.

After being in prison it was not unusual for men to darken their skin with 'walnut juice' - I didn't get the recipe - in order to be less conspicuous. Granted the story my grandad told, about someone falling asleep during the process, not washing the lotion off and 'ending up looking like a nignog' doesn't help the argument, but grandad was always going to say that about anyone with a tan, even if it was his neighbour who'd had two weeks in Scarborough, or me going off to polytechnic after a long hot summer.   

Those wishing to cock a snook at authority often wear pheasant feathers in their hats, just out of bravado.

Sounds like border morris to me.

In Restoration England ladies wore black lacquered masks called visages, to protect their complexions when travelling, and their faces from uncooth stares, and to render themselves unrecognisable in the plots of comic plays. I wonder if those who perform Restoration Theatre are accused of racial naughtiness and told to change the masks to other colours for fear of offending.

Anne Croucher   

Anne Croucher


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 10:19 AM

Banjiman
I think most of us, including myself, try not to offend people. However you can't go through life worrying about who you are going to offend, or life would just stop.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 01:26 PM

And what exactly is your gripe with constipated Morris Dancers, Mr O'P?

Where do we start, Mr Spleen? Personally, I think anyone persisting with blacking-up effectively consigns themselves to the realm of an anal-retentive fuck-wittery that runs contrary to the overall scheme of Good Sense alluded to below. That none of this is anyway traditional is a moot point too; 60's reinventions lapsing into subsequent fakeloric pedantry does not equal a tradition - neither does it excuse such a wilful and purposeful idiocy that would justify white people blacking-up, especially in the current cultural and political climate. Furthermore, methinks such practices should be outlawed and transgression subject to very harsh penalties indeed.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 01:32 PM

The re-inventions are based upon older & original collected sources, some of which refer to blacked-up dancers, which makes it traditional (i.e. something 'passed on'). Tradition doesn't necessarily mean an unbroken line, else much folk music couldn't be classed as 'traditional'.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 02:35 PM

Thought this was rather amusing considering the current debate:

http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/05/28/101-being-offended/


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 02:45 PM

Alright then per this Tradition malarky, how about...

Anyone that has a REAL unbroken tradition (like a hundred years or something, I mean Englands traditions have been about for a good while after all haven't they?) of Blacking up, continue to do it.

And all the faux re-invented make-believers, try doing something else that is as non-traditional to them, as blacking up also isn't?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 02:56 PM

That was funny Martin :-)


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 02:56 PM

Likewise, why don't all folk singers that truley have an unbroken tradition of singing going back 100 years or so continue to sing & everyone else sing something else?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 03:17 PM

Ruth Archer,I have pmd you.
it apears that while some black people find it offensive,others do not.
just as there are differences of opinion amongst us pinkies,there appears to be differences of opinions amongst blacks/browns.
I do not know of any white people who take offence at black people whiteing up,but there must be some.
if a lot of black people find it offensive,[imo]there is then no argument,it should be stopped,but before that is decided,it would be useful to know the facts


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 03:26 PM

"why don't all folk singers that truley have an unbroken tradition of singing going back 100 years or so continue to sing & everyone else sing something else?"

Well, I don't sing songs including words like Nigger.. They are wrong for me. I do live in a culture where they are not right for me. I learned Nigger was a bad word when I was a kiddy, and to pretend it isn't now because I started singing, would be a sham. Though I do all other fun stuff which isn't "iffy".

I guess if my old mate "Bill" who had sung his Nigger songs with his family all his life, I'd find that context understandable, as he would simply be carrying on something that wasn't otherwise fraudulent and offensive, but actually genuinely traditional to *him* rather than simply pretending to do so.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 03:37 PM

I haven't seen many folk singers "blacked up" or being wantonly offensive (to those who don't deserve it!) with what they sing..... either in the name of tradition or fakelore.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 03:37 PM

The prime difference being that the black-face in border wasn't revived to be racist.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 03:48 PM

Perception is all.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 03:53 PM

Yes but perceiving threat where none is intended is a dangerous path to tread, especially when it is used as the basis of legislating what people can & cannot do. Some people perceive the UK is overun by Eastern Europeans, some people perceice that all Muslims want to overthrow the UK - thank heavens we don't live in a country where this is the basis of lawmaking.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 03:57 PM

..... I haven't see anyone proposing a law to ban "blacking up" on here, have you?

I see a lot of people presenting arguments why it might not be a good idea but I don't see anyone saying ban it.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 04:00 PM

From just a few posts ago:

"Furthermore, methinks such practices should be outlawed and transgression subject to very harsh penalties indeed."


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 04:11 PM

I thought it was "anal-retentive fuck-wittery" that Sedayne wants banned......... I suppose if the cap fits?




OK you are correct, banning it was suggested, personally I prefer the route of discussion and argument. Prohibition rarely works.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 04:14 PM

"anal-retentive fuck-wittery"

Name calling & mud slinging...glad to see the art of enlightened & intelligent dicussion is still alive...


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 04:39 PM

Banjiman was quoting Suibhne O'Piobaireachd, Martin.

Talking of Suibhne O'Piobaireachd, I agree with you entirely on the subject of blacking up, but I still think you're being very unfair to those poor souls desperately trying to dance whilst backing up. Can you imagine the torment of trying to make like the Shropshire Bedlams whilst lugging around a faecal boulder the size of a rugby ball, that no amount of sphincterial manipulation will allow you to pass? We should pity the poor buggers and their aching bowels.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 04:47 PM

Amen Spleen!
There is of course the revival Morris Butt Plug (traditionally carved from ancient Oak) to replace the traditional feacal boulder... I'm sure these come with traditional tatters..? or was that traditional Fartle-Berries? Whatever - I'm sure our Morris Men have a topper traditional time with them!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 04:51 PM

"Banjiman was quoting Suibhne O'Piobaireachd, Martin."

Obviously, as it was I that directed Banjiman to the said post in the first place.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 04:52 PM

glad to see the art of enlightened & intelligent dicussion is still alive...

How can one have an enlightened & intelligent discussion with people who believe it is any way justifiable to black-up in the name of some indulgent recreational hobby? The only excuse for a white person to have a black face in this day & age is in the context of a hard day's work - like my coal-men.

Tradition in the context of The Revival amounts to an ossified pedantry wholly at odds with the notions of mutability, adaptability, change, transference, etc etc. seemingly enshrined by early folklorists, such as Maud Karpeles in her definition of folk song in 1954. In the context of the revival, as we've established elsewhere, The Folk Process is long dead. Doing things how things used to be done is not, therefore, traditional - it is revivalist re-enactment. In any case, just because something was done once upon a time is no justification for doing it now, be it having surgery without anaesthetic or lowering the age of consent to twelve. Tradition? History? Bullshit.

I must point out I love Morris Dancing; I saw the Silurians dancing at the Morris Ring in Durham many moons ago & it was one of the most exciting things I'd ever seen. Truly awesome - but with dancing like that, they'd be awesome whatever colour they painted their faces.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 05:00 PM

Morris is no more an indulgent recreational hobby than any other form of dance. The whole basis of your argument is based upon your assumption that the black-face in border morris is intrinsically bound up with racism, perceived or otherwise, and not on any immutable point of fact. Your believing something to be so doesn't make it so.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Aeola
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 05:13 PM

PC is killing this country!! Anyway I like white chocolate!!! Mind you dark chocolate is quite nice!!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 05:58 PM

Morris is no more an indulgent recreational hobby than any other form of dance.

Not so. Other dance forms are replete with genuine folklore - be it disco, break-dancing, Latin, ball-room, line-dancing etc. etc. Morris is the only one that claims to be folkloric, quasi-mystical, fraught with wonky history even unto menacing overtones of pre-Christian pagan ritual, but is, in fact, a wholesale post-modern revivalist fantasy dating back no further than the 1960s whatever traditional precedents might be cited.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 06:05 PM

Consider in comparison what would happen if a minstrel group were to suddenly strike up in the streets.

I think they'd draw a small crowd, mostly consisting of kids too young to know what the fuss was about, while most people passed by in embarrassed silence. We're English, after all.

Crow Sister's point is a good one. If you're dancing in a certain style because your dad did it before you and his dad before him, then you've got yourself a tradition of dance and you can quite justifiably object to being asked to muck about with it. If not, you're a revivalist just like the rest of us, and it's common sense - and common decency - to avoid anything that might put people off or make them feel excluded.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 06:12 PM

All morris is revivalist? I was under the impression that at least five sides (Abingdon, Bampton, Chipping Campden and Headington) were considered living traditions , and even where there are broken traditions, the break in some cases is only 20 or 30 years, thus within living memory enough to be 'revived' as traditional. Furthermore, basing dances on written collections of dances as they were performed is hardly a 'fantasy', certainly no more so than the re-recording of lost songs from manuscript.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 06:21 PM

When Cawte was collecting what little evidence there was of the border dance tradition in the 1950s in Shropshire and Herefordshire many of those dances that survived on the edge of living memory were called 'niggering'. From the recollections of very old men looking back over a span of some 60 years, Cawte learned that some involved sticks, some did not. Most involved blacking up.
It was largely from his notes that the modern border 'tradition' was assembled. What we have today is scarcely even a revival but rather a pastiche. It's about as authentic as a renaissance fayre in Southern California.
It's fun, energetic and entertaining, but it's about as 'traditional' as 'The Great Escape' is traditional on Christmas telly.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Penny S.
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 06:40 PM

"in fact, a wholesale post-modern revivalist fantasy dating back no further than the 1960s whatever traditional precedents might be cited."

As a child, I was exposed to Morris at Folkestone in the mid 1950s. They would dance at various locations - I particularly remember the East Cliffe Pavilion, accompanied by a Hooden Horse rather like the crocodile of Punch and Judy, which scared me.

I remember from a more recent time reading that the way to identify "real" traditional Morris from the other sort was that in the real version, where it was done because local tradition dictated it should be done, the dancers did not appear to be enjoying themselves.

By this token, that particular side might well be more traditional than not being in the Cotswolds might suggest.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Leadfingers
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 06:50 PM

400


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Goose Gander
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 06:54 PM

"Morris is . . . in fact, a wholesale post-modern revivalist fantasy dating back no further than the 1960s whatever traditional precedents might be cited."

Fifty Years of Service by Keith Chandler, recently in Musical Traditions, cites Bampton Morris as a living tradition back in the 1920s. But I agree that the pagan, pseudo-mystical associations are bogus.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 02:38 AM

Glad I wasn't imagining that I had read about morris going back further than the 1960's.

Nearly every side, border or otherwise, create new dances in the style of what was collected, just as folk musicians create new songs in the style of older music (indeed just as much modern world music contains the essence of its native music), so it's going to come as little suprise to any morris dancer that their dances haven't passed through time unchanged. Likewise, when many sides strike up they base their dress etc on published sources but also give it a new spin, some adding a gothic or spooky gloss, all of which is part of the entertainment. Don't quite know where the great revelation is in any of that.

However, the accuracy of the revival & so forth is largely irrelevant to the discussion, which should surely centre on the black-face (something that is documented) and whether it is (or ever was) intended as racist & whether it causes significant offence, and I have yet to see evidence of either of these things.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 03:00 AM

the accuracy of the revival & so forth is largely irrelevant to the discussion

I like the gracious way you concede the point, GUEST.

whether it is (or ever was) intended as racist

Minstrel songs: documented. Use of banjoes and bones (alongside minstrel songs): documented. References to dancing out as "niggering": documented. I think the "ever was" part of the argument is pretty well proved.

As for whether it "is" intended as racist, sometimes it may be, but nobody's suggesting that all blacked-up dancers are racist. Intention isn't the point.

whether it causes significant offence, and I have yet to see evidence of either of these things.

You've been offered two separate quotes from individuals who found it offensive and dismissed them both. How many more shall we collect before you agree that it's 'significant'?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 03:18 AM

That people used the word 'niggering' in the 20th century doesn't prove that this was what was orignally intended by the black-face, rather it is equally possible that an older black-face tradition was being described using the terminology & culture of the day. Just as some racist people use 'thieving arab' as a term of abuse, it doesn't mean all arabs are thieving. A contemporary description or word for something does not constitute a things definitive origins.

Regarding the tunes, no-one knows for definite what tunes were used by border morris dancers, but amongst them appear to be country music, "schottisches played rather slowly", and yes a few minstrel songs, because I suspect (as has also been recorded) that most of them played songs that they liked. In the same way our own tradition of folk song is historically replete with murder, incest, racism & the like - does this mean that all modern folk song is built upon an inherently racist foundation?

As to the two quote thing, if you scroll up the thread you will also find quotes from indivduals who didn't find it offensive. Thus as it is a matter of perception, surely education as to intent is the key rather than starting blanket bans.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 03:39 AM

GUEST Martin,

You seem determined to deny the point that anyone MIGHT find "black face" offensive. Why is that?

Are you so consumed with your own ends that you refuse to ackowledge the POSSIBLE impact on a significant number of others?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Howard Jones
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 03:42 AM

I've stayed out of this so far, because it was covered pretty thoroughly in a thread I started a couple of months ago in an attempt to find out more about the history of blacking up. The conclusions I came to then were:

- blacking up was originally part of Border morris
- at some point in the 18th Century it died out, probably because blackening one's face was made illegal (an anti-poaching measure, but who would take the chance?)
- with the minstrel craze in the 19th century, blacking up was revived. Whether this was in direct imitation of the minstrels, or whether minstrelsy legitimised blacking-up and allowed them to resume the old tradition is less clear. The minstrel craze was the dominant form of popular culture for a considerable length of time, and it would be surprising if it hadn't had some influence on morris, just as modern sides adopt popular tunes and modern instruments. As for the term "niggering", the word was probably far less loaded then than it is now and would probably not have been seen as offensive.
- whilst it is true that the revival sides have constructed, and in some cases invented, the current style based on mere scraps, they have also taken what they can from what little is known about the the original traditions, including blacking-up.

I find myself uncomfortably on the fence on this. On the one hand, there is the question of giving offence, on the other hand I am instinctively inclined to resist pressure to surrender a traditional practice because of allegations or assumptions of racism which isn't actually there.

I am genuinely bewildered how anyone could see a Border morris side for the first time and think it was a parody of black people, when the costumes, instruments, music, and style of dance all bear no resemblance whatsoever to black culture.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 03:45 AM

I suggest you re-read my posts, as I have conceded that some people are bound to find offense, that is the case with anything - some people find kissing in public offensive, some people find breast-feeding in public offensive, some people find Big Issue sellers offensive, some people find street preechers of whatever religious affilation offensive, some people find homosexuality offensive, some people find cross-dressing offensive and so on infinitum.

Rather my point, if you were to read it, is that you cannot legislate on things because they "might cause offence" - this is the kind of road paved with good intentions that leads to a very iffy place.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 03:47 AM

"I am genuinely bewildered how anyone could see a Border morris side for the first time and think it was a parody of black people, when the costumes, instruments, music, and style of dance all bear no resemblance whatsoever to black culture."

Glad I'm not the only one to say so in this thread! I think it says more about the minds of the person who sees a black parody in border morris than the dancers themselves.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 03:56 AM

OK so you acknowledge that you may be offending someone. But you're not concerned about that as long as you get your own pleasure?




BTW I'm not advocating "legislation".

Individuals should think about the impact they are having and make a personal choice if preservation of a "tradition" (which the jury is out on) is worth potentially alienating and/or offending some sections of society.

You have clearly made your choice.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 04:03 AM

Yes you are right, in the absence of any intended racism & in the absence of any overwhelming evidence of society at large or significant proportions of said section of society finding it offensive, I shall be carrying on a form of dance that entertains large numbers of people.

If we were all to worry about "possibly offending" people we would never get out of bed in the morning because for every action you name I could find a person whom it might alienate & offend. Whatever happened to sticks & stones...?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 04:14 AM

OK, that is your choice.

Just 2 more questions from me and I'll leave you to get on with it (probably)!

1/ What evidence of offence being caused (to said section of society)would you need to reconsider your position?

2/ You're clearly a thinking person. Does the lack of evidence demonstrating that you are NOT offending large parts of said section of society cause you any concern at all?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 04:51 AM

Thanks for that post Howard. One of the best posts so far.

Paul
If you are so incensed about it, why don't you go and visit some of the border villages and witness it first hand and do a survey of the people (unbiased) on how they percieve Border Morris Dancing.
It would be better than trying to preach your view point down peoples throats.

I beleive that most Border Morris teams blackup for disguise purposes with no racial conotations. I beleive thay also stay close to their villages.

My stance is exactly as Howard quotes
Quote
I find myself uncomfortably on the fence on this. On the one hand, there is the question of giving offence, on the other hand I am instinctively inclined to resist pressure to surrender a traditional practice because of allegations or assumptions of racism which isn't actually there.

I am genuinely bewildered how anyone could see a Border morris side for the first time and think it was a parody of black.
End of Quote

Border Morris Dancers are grown up people quite capable of making their own decisions.

At the end of the day, the thread was about Motley Morris being BANNED from the school.
In actual fact, they were not banned. They chose to stick to their beliefs and principles and the school chose to not let them perform.
Just like an organiser booking an act, they couldn't agree, so they went their own ways. No falling out.
Thats what you (Paul) and I do each time we try to book an artist.

Les


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: greg stephens
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 06:57 AM

So, what evidence has been unearthed that anyone has been offended? That seems to me to be the main point of this convoluted discussion.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 07:17 AM

Greg,

most people regardless of ethnic origin no little and care less about Morris or any other "tradition". But lots of us do and I will simply quote Ruth Archer from above:


From some considerable way up the thread:

'Finally, a few people have said that it would be interesting to hear from a black person what they feel about all of this. Well, the article from EDS that I quoted earlier interviewed several people about the practice, including a dance caller named Nigel Hogg. This is what he had to say:

"I have watched many different dance groups around the country, and on certain occasions I have seen groups black up to perform. As a mixed race man I do find this tradition offensive because I see it as a parody mocking people of colour. I would imagine that the people who perform these dances are not racists, and on some levels the people involved have not even though about the implications these dances might have to people of colour." '

Cheers

Les
PS CDs brilliant


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 07:40 AM

So, what evidence has been unearthed that anyone has been offended? That seems to me to be the main point of this convoluted discussion.

That such practises run contrary to the common good of humanity is surely in the realms of the Self Evident, whatever fakeloric justifications might exist regarding the supposed non-racist reasons for niggering - a perpetuation of an anachronistic malpractice that cites tradition to establish precedence. Whatever reasons for such niggering in the 19th Century (or for that matter the very existence of the term) the fact is we live in the 21st Century - a very different world indeed, certainly a very different England, where a term like niggering is deeply offensive on every level imaginable.

Personally, I would like to see legislation on this issue as not only does it contravene good sense, but provides a precedence for other such malpractice - folkloric, fakeloric, or indeed otherwise.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Bloke from Poole
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 08:04 AM

Well, we may not see Morris dancing in the Olympic parade, but we have certainly defined the UK's proposal for an additional sport.

It's called "wallowing in our own piety" and we will W I N.

The game runs something like:
"I am more pious than you, because I have thought of a tenuous link between and possible racist activities and I think it might offend someone I've never met and whose opinions I've never sought"
"No, _I_ am more pious than YOU because I have thought of even more tenuous link to something that I think people did 150 years and, if I view that in a 21st century light, I can claim that something done in one context is mind-blowingly offensive to people I don't know, if you put it in a completely different context for which it was never intended."

And so it goes on. Last person standing is the winner. Except there are no winners.

I can understand people making reasonable attempts to avoid actions that might reasonably be expected to cause offense to other reasonable people. That is only fair and sensible. I even try to do it myself. But that's not what's happening here.

I can see the teacher's point of view (remember the teacher?). But it's the sort of thinking - if that's the right word - that's going on here that fuels those fears, keeps the uncertainty and fear going, and pushes people to find offence where it's only to be found by those looking for it.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 08:19 AM

Les, you know I hold you in high regard but:

"If you are so incensed about it, why don't you go and visit some of the border villages and witness it first hand and do a survey of the people (unbiased) on how they percieve Border Morris Dancing."

How long has Essex been on the Welsh border? I don't have the demographic make up of the Welsh border counties to hand but I'm not sure that they are a multi-cultural melting pot. I'm not convinced a survey there would be a fair reflection on the potential offence "blacking up" might cause to ethnic minorities.


"It would be better than trying to preach your view point down peoples throats."

Les, this a discussion board. I'm not preaching on street corners or sending unsolicited emails.


"Just like an organiser booking an act, they couldn't agree, so they went their own ways. No falling out.
Thats what you (Paul) and I do each time we try to book an artist."

There are some parallels, however, people coming to a folk club or a village hall concert have some idea what they are getting and are there from their own free will. There are different responsibilities for a headteacher booking events for a school. The Headteacher is "imposing" her acts on a group of children who have no choice but to be there. Morris is also often performed in the street (a good thing, generally!) again imposing entertainment on the unsuspecting...... this (IMHO) brings with it a higher degree of responsibility to consider the impact of how it is perceived.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 09:57 AM

On a slightly distanced and more philisophical note, this whole debate has reminded me (for years, actually) of some of the issues surrounding the Philadelphia Mummers Day Parade, a tradition I grew up with and which, like Border Morris, was at one time closely associated with minstrelsy. The string bands, minstrel tunes and painted faces are still to be observed within this annual tradition, but blacking up was outlawed in the mid-60s.

Philadelphia is a much more racially diverse place than the Welsh borders (and indeed than most non-urban places in Britain), but as a result the tradition has been coming into direct contact (and conflict) with non-white communities for a long time.

As a result, the Philadelphia Mummers have an uneasy relationship with their history, and they are selective about which bits they actively promote and which bits they hide away with "strategic invisibility". Anyone interested might like to read the chapter called Dem Golden Slippers in the following paper:

Doctoral thesis on the history of the Philadelphia mummers

"Minstrelsy was explicitly present in the parade until the 1960s and is implicitly present still. The contemporary Mummers, however, largely ignore the history of blackface performance in the parade. Additionally, the parade community has been almost exclusively white for more than seventy-five years; yet, the written and oral histories of the parade do little to deal with this problematic racial past. Instead, the Mummers treat the history of race and racism in the parade as a temporally limited problem or opt for a sort of strategic invisibility."


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 12:10 PM

Suibhne, perhaps you would like to cite an example of the last time in recent history that you heard a Border side call what they did niggering? Before you taint the discussion with these kind of loaded words as though this is what border morris calls itself, perhaps you might like to refer to an earlier post by Richard:

"Royston, there are at least four things we do not know about the "niggering" quote.

We do not know whether it is a foolish modern usage that tells us nothing about the tradition.

We do not know whether it is a malevolent modern usage that tells us something about the writer but nothing of the tradition.

We do not know whether it was a Victorian period writing tainted by the casual racism of that period.

We do not know whether the description predates that period (compare the northern descriptions of vertical rock crevices as "arses" that so offended the Victorians that maps now show such features called eg "Great House").


Unless and until we learn the origin of the writing in question we cannot evaluate it, and it does not inform our understanding of whether any blackface tradition is racist or not."


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 12:48 PM

some people find kissing in public offensive, some people find breast-feeding in public offensive, some people find Big Issue sellers offensive, some people find street preechers of whatever religious affilation offensive, some people find homosexuality offensive, some people find cross-dressing offensive and so on infinitum

That's true, but it doesn't actually support your position (that what matters is whether blackface causes "significant offence").

Let's say that a neighbour with rather, um, old-fashioned views says that he's offended by my failure to discipline my wife, who persists in speaking when not spoken to. By your argument that's only one person, so it doesn't matter.

Let's say that 1,000 different reactionary people tell me that they're offended by my failure to discipline my wife, etc. A thousand people is a lot of people - by your argument that's "significant offence", and I should listen to what they're saying. Right?

To me, the number of people offended doesn't much matter. A million people can tell me they're offended by my fondness for beer, and I won't change my ways* - because partiality to beer isn't something that I think it's appropriate to be offended by. But racism is something that I think it's appropriate to be offended by, so if somebody accuses me of using racist imagery I will think long and hard about whether they might be right - even if (perhaps especially if) I think they're wrong.

*Actually quite temperate ways, let's not get this out of proportion. "Moderation is true temperance" (Wm. Yates, and he should know).


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 12:53 PM

Sorry, Peter Yates. Must have been thinking of someone else. (And what rough Blob, its hour come round at last...)


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Soldier boy
Date: 07 Jul 09 - 01:09 PM

Have'nt you guys stopped chasing your tails in ever decreasing circles and run out of hot air yet ????


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Chris Partington
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 05:50 AM

The point came up earlier about whether blacking up could ever be taken to be a representation of a non-white person; by implication it couldn't and therefore wasn't deemed offensive. A moot point, given the history.
What about mummers, since the Philadelphia Mummers have been mentioned? In England the Turkish Knight/Egyptian whatever is invariably blacked up and dressed up and called Turkish, Black etc., and is definitely a Muslim, the baddie, and slain in public in front of child spectators for not being Christian!
There seems little ambiguity there, little scope for changing the plot, yet would anyone wish to see it die out?
Perhaps the difference has been the relationship with Islam as a more or less equal and worthy adversary in the past, quite different from our despicable treatment of black slaves. But our relationship with the world of Islam is changing fast and becoming more local.
Most muslims in the UK occupy an inferior and menial role, as do most blacks (quite far removed from the "taking over" position described in the press) and may come to resent "negative" representations more than they seem to at present; and it would be quite hard to defend most mumming by claiming that it is merely disguise, as in "Guisers".
I think it is almost impossible to formulate a firm principle upon which to stand and defend any sort of traditional ceremony, other than to say that potential offense is not the same as actual offense. What would happen to a traditional mumming ceremony that always performed in the same spot, if that same spot eventually only attracted an audience of small muslim kids? They would have some thinking to do depending on the kid's reactions, and no offense might be given or taken.
But at what point does it start to resemble Orange Order parades insisting on their right to parade through Drumcree because it's traditional and they have a democratic right to cause offense?
I hope I can cause offense if I wish, but I don't always wish to. Every performance is a unique event. I would not like to see the end of mumming plays; if no offense is taken then no harm is done, but if it begins to leave a bad taste in the mouths of the performers then it will not be repeated and it will evolve or die out.
In the meantime, where the plot does not make it essential to potentially cause offense, and it would seem that Border Morris comes into this category, why not do as these dancers in the background
have done?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 06:23 AM

We do not know whether it is a foolish modern usage that tells us nothing about the tradition. [...] Unless and until we learn the origin of the writing in question we cannot evaluate it, and it does not inform our understanding of whether any blackface tradition is racist or not. (etc.)

We are not dealing with a tradition - rather we are dealing with a revival; a wholesale re-invention; a reactionary anachronism wholly at odds with the multi-racial complexities of English society as it exists today. It is, therefore, to the sensibilities of the contemporary enlightenment (so far as it exists in the folk world) that all such practices are ultimately answerable, and not to those of an imaginary past. Whatever the traditional / historical / folkloric / fakeloric origins of blacking up might be, there is only one possible reading of it now and to justify it otherwise is surely racist in itself.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 10:26 AM

>>there is only one possible reading of it now and to justify it otherwise is surely racist in itself. <<

What bollocks.

Blacking up in modern border is to do with fashion (created by Shropshire Bedlams), not tradition and not racism.

Your vicarious taking of offence is pathetic and implying racist motives to others is itself offensive and, applying your standards, something you should refrain from.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 11:50 AM

Suibhne, if we are talking about a modern construct then why do you feel the need to keep poking around in the past to dredge up a minstrel influence & the term niggering to somehow prove that the black-face in border always was racist, and by implication so must all border sides now be.

As Morris-ey has pointed out above there IS more than one reading into the black-face, which is the one that most of the public make, and it is one of fashion, whether to be gothic, spooky or to try & evoke the myth of ancient pagan routes (which is what our side does).


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 12:13 PM

"there IS more than one reading into the black-face, which is the one that most of the public make"

How do you know this? Where's your evidence?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 12:24 PM

Well oddly enough when you are a border morris dancer & dance out nearly every weekend you get to see first-hand how the public take you. Hence when the audience is watching & smiling & dancing with you rather than pelting you with stones & waving race-hate banners you take it they are enjoying it. Then when you've finished people always come up & ask about the outfits, normally always asking whether it has got something to do with paganism. Not once has anyone ever asked whether it had anything to do with black-people who as has been pointed put to death rarely wear tatter jackets, bells on their knees & feathers in top hats.

I suggest you go to Google images, type up Witchmen, Hunters Moon, Mythago, Wild Hunt & various other black-face morris sides of this 'gothic' ilk & tell me in what way it resembles a parody of black people.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 12:42 PM

I know that some people are uneasy and some are offended. They tend to walk away.

Call me a liar?

Best wishes

Les


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 12:52 PM

Obviously not, if you'd read my other recent posts you'd know that I haven't denied somebody might take offence & my thoughts on that subject. There are always ignorant people who would rather jump to conclusions rather than do the intelligent thing & perhaps enquire as to the whys & wherefores of someones behaviours - take the hoo-haa over the blacking up of children dressing up as chimney sweeps not so long ago.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 12:57 PM

Evening Martin, Round 17?

I'm not sure that you are an objective observer given your previous posts.

"Not once has anyone ever asked whether it had anything to do with black-people"...... they're hardly likely to really are they? If people are offended or embarrassed by your "blacking up" they are hardly likely to hang around and chat.


I think there were a couple of questions I posed higher up the thread to you about what it would take to convince you that "blacking up" might be offensive to some people.
Do I take your silence as as indication of whatever evidence is provided that you will carry on anyway?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 01:08 PM

Likewise, in what way can you yourself be said to be objective given your own posts.

I shall answer your questions, and perhaps you'll extend me the same courtesy & look at groups like Hunters Moon & the Witchmen who have gone for a gothic look and explain to me how the black-face in context of that outfit can be considered a parody of black people.

In answer to your question, I like most others do not live in an all-white bubble & have friends from differing ethnic backgrounds. Likewise, when I've danced out I have danced in front of people from differing ethnic backgrounds, and many of them have come up & expressed interest afterwards as in my experience it is often the non-British people that find it the most interesting. As such and being an adult with my own mind I am more than capable of weighing up the impact the black-face has on a first hand basis - I don't need someone who may have seen border dancing once or twice telling me how the majority of people observing it perceive it.

If someone came up to me & said they found it offensive I would explain to them why WE choose black-up NOW & that it has nothing to do with racism. If they then chose to continue to read racism into it, then that's there look-out & their ignorance, not mine.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 02:01 PM

In other words, nothing would persuade you to stop blacking up. You're commendably frank, if nothing else.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 02:32 PM

The point I was trying to make at 07 Jul 09 - 12:48 PM, which seems to have got lost in the melee, is that there are three factors in this whole offensiveness thing.

One is whether the offence is widespread - whether it's "significant offence" in GUEST,Martin's words. I don't think this matters in the slightest. (Apparently, neither does GUEST,Martin, so that's one thing we can agree on.) Lots of people can take offence wrongly; one person can take offence with good reason.

Another factor is whether the offence is intentional. GUEST,Martin - along with lots of other people - thinks this is crucial: if you're convinced that what you're doing isn't meant offensively, then it's not offensive; as for anyone who takes offence, that's their look-out & their ignorance. I think this is completely and utterly wrong and that whether the offence is intentional is not very important at all. Lots of people use racist expressions on a regular basis without having the slightest racist intention. A friend of mine back in the early 80s would regularly refer to a swindle or a ripoff as a "jew"; when I called him on it he looked genuinely puzzled and said he'd never thought it might be the same word(!). He wasn't anti-Jewish in the slightest, but it was still an anti-Jewish expression.

The third factor, which I think is the most important, is what (if anything) the offence is grounded in. Yes, lots of people take offence at lots of different things, but whether or not we pay attention to them depends on what they're offended about, not what they're offended by. If someone tells me they're boycotting the local greengrocer because he sells Argentinian fruit, I'm not going to investigate whether he does sell Argentinian fruit and then decide whether to join the boycott: I'm not offended about the issue of selling Argentinian fruit, so I don't care whether someone's offended by a local shop doing it. If someone tells me they're boycotting the greengrocer because he's sacked an assistant who came out as gay, I'm going to take that a lot more seriously: I am offended about anti-gay prejudice, so I do care if someone's offended by someone expressing it.

As for 21st-Century post-Bedlams Revival Border Morris, I do find racism offensive, so if someone says they find a particular practice racist - or they feel that it expresses racist attitudes or reflects racist images - my immediate assumption is that they may have a point; I think they're saying something that's worth investigating and thinking about seriously. And "we've been doing it for a while and we want to carry on" doesn't really hack it for me.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 02:56 PM

I'm with Martin on this one.

If someone (usually white middle class) chooses to be offended (often on behalf of others) by what I do then frankly I don't give damn. They should grow up and get over themselves.

If an ethnic minority (who probably has more right to do so) takes offence at what I do, well being offended ain't going to kill you now is it?

In a free society one can do what one likes within the law.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 03:06 PM

The problem is that

If an ethnic minority (who probably has more right to do so) takes offence at what I do, well being offended ain't going to kill you now is it?

Lots of Black People have been been killed by white people and treated unfairly by all sorts of people including the Police, so Morris Dances and the reat of us, should be sensitive to the history of the way Black People have been treated.

Clearly most Morris Dancers are

Best wishes

Les


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 03:45 PM

If an ethnic minority (who probably has more right to do so) takes offence at what I do, well being offended ain't going to kill you now is it?

Bernard Manning, come on down!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 03:50 PM

there IS more than one reading into the black-face,

Name them.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 03:55 PM

Last night I watched a film called Rosewood,which dealt with horrific violent acts of racism in America in the 1920s.
this is my last contribution to this thread,as I have better ,more important things to do.
this thread is not important,in fact it is a waste of time.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 06:12 PM

I `ad a right odd-ball couple sharing my cab the other day. She was a `ead teacher in a school for nippers and `e was a `ealth and safety wallah.
`e said, "Would you take us to St. Peter`s School, East Ham, they`ve got them blacked up Morris Men there".
I said, "What, you going to do a bit of dancing with `em, then?."
`e said , "Nah, we`re gonna stopp`em on the strength that they may offend some effnics, their wavey `ankerchiefs may spread that Mex flu, their bells may `urt peoples `earing and if their sticks break someone may get a splinter in their bum!!"

I went and `ad an Aspirin!!

Whaddam I like??


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Smokey.
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 06:21 PM

There ought to be a word for 'an unreasonable fear of being seen as racist by one's peers'.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 06:28 PM

Maybe. What's the word for 'a stubborn refusal to accept that one actually is seen as racist'?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 06:29 PM

I must say my fathers generation tend to find things I find difficult or uncomfortable, totally 'normal' to them, so I also tend to assume the same. I suspect the younger folkers will change with the times. Same as I have in my own way.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 07:03 PM

The big difference between calling someone a Jew meaning a swindle & a rip-off is that the word Jew can only be read one way, i.e. as a reference to Jewish people. Black face paint has more than one reading, some of which have been given throughout the post. Take the Witchmen for example, the black-face viewed in context of the costume, the name of the side & the actual form the entertainment takes is evidently not the same as a minstrel performance.

As to where the offence is grounded, I am with you to a point. However, speaking as a gay man myself, I despise the constant assumption by some people that I need protecting from all manner of phrases & behaviours as though I am not capable of rising above them or that I am somehow programmed to take offence at all sorts of things that quite frankly I couldn't care less about. Like any other person I am more than capable of speaking up for myself & don't need others to be offended on my behalf. When you're part of a minority group you develop a fairly thick skin & have little need to look for discrimination & parody where none is intended.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 08:50 PM

A complicating factor is that we now have the BNP making efforts to use English folk traditions to win friends (and encourage enmity) and influence people. We have to be wary of those who would try to use the existence of "blacking up" on the part of some dance groups as a way of driving a wedge between us.

But some common sense in this area should be preserved - look at this picture I took at Sidmouth a couple of years ago. I can't really see how anybody could think that this dancer can be seen as trying to come across as some kind of Minstrel inspired parody of a black man.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Smokey.
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 11:15 PM

What's the word for 'a stubborn refusal to accept that one actually is seen as racist'?

I don't see anyone actually being racist - although to me the censoring of the black faces seems rather misguided and every bit as open to misinterpretation as what the dancers would normally do.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 03:04 AM

Here, for those who can't see that the black-face can ever be seen as having a reading other than as a black-parody, please explain how the black-face in context of the outfit & the form the entertainment takes can be considered in any way a parody of black people in similitude to the minsterls:

Witch-men


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 03:06 AM

I don't see anyone actually being racist

Neither do I. I do see people doing something that is seen as racist, being told it's seen as racist and refusing to accept that.

GUEST,Martin - Like any other person I am more than capable of speaking up for myself & don't need others to be offended on my behalf.

That's fair enough in principle, but remember that the Motley case involves a primary school. Parents of primary-age kids can reasonably expect that the school will shield them from anything offensive, which does involve taking offence on the kids' behalf. My suspicion is that a lot of people are a bit uneasy about blackface; in this case, it's that element of duty of care which turned "not really my thing but I guess it's OK" into "rather you didn't do that".

What shocks me more than anything is the stiff-necked reaction of the team - it seems like cutting your nose off to spite your face, & sends exactly the wrong message to anyone who was starting to think blackface dancers might actually be racist.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,EricTheOrange
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 03:25 AM

> I do see people doing something that is seen as racist

But by whom?

It seems we have people taking offence on behalf of minority groups and making assumptions about what they would think and feel. Posts by members of minorities such as Martin Duffy and myself have pointed out that people taking offence on behalf of these communities is itself offensive. The presumption however well intentioned is in itself another form of discrimination.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Howard Jones
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 03:35 AM

I wonder whether in 100 years time the present fashion for white youths to imitate the dress and mannerisms of black rap culture will appear as racist then as minstrelsy does now. Apart from the blackface (which was only part of the minstrels image - would it have appeared any less racist if they hadn't blacked up but kept the other trappings?) I find it hard to see a difference - in both cases white people recognising and celebrating black culture.

It's important to remember that minstrelsy wasn't about ridiculing black people. It was a way of bringing the vibrancy and rhythms of black music to a white audience, and in a way which fitted the social mores of the time and meant that the white audience didn't have to face contact with actual black people. Yes, it was patronising, but that is how black people were viewed then. I'm not trying to defend it, but to put it in its context. It was the first step which led to the dominance of music of black origin in modern popular culture. It seems odd and offensive to us now, but that is to view it with modern sensitivities.

In modern times, blackface is all about context - there are plenty of situations where someone with their face blacked up would not automatically be thought of as racist, for example:

a miner
a chimney sweep
a soldier in camouflage
a poacher or burglar trying to make themselves inconspicuous at night

Why then when you see a blacked-up morris dancer should the automatic conclusion be that its racist?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 03:50 AM

Eric, this is a spurious argument, and it'd been presented too often here. The lampooning of one race by another is offensive, period. NOT on behalf of the lampooned, on behalf of the human race. giving offece when questioning someone's consious beliefs or actions is one thing, and may even be healthy at times. to do so about inherited skin colour is not.

I, a white man, am offended by the influence of minstrels on morris. I am offended by some dancers refusal to recognise this influence. I am offended by the BNP. I am offended by some dancers' refusal to recognise that black-face plays into their hands.

I am unhappy that you put a tenuous tradition before all this, when there are simple alteratives.

Do you want morris to thrive?

If so, don't listen to your supporters on the street. cock an ear to those who are at the moment NOT into morris.

and ask them why.

then compare your the size/influence of your b/f 'tradition' and ditto of the plain face, other disguise traditions.

are you helping or hindering?

Tom


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Gervase
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 03:58 AM

Minstrelsy was certainly not celebrating black culture - it was a mocking and grotesque parody. Read this if you are in any doubt.
But, to return to the point - again - it's about consideration.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 04:07 AM

Good grief, Howard. Have you never heard of slavery?

This is about skin colour, not culture.

90% of the population, perhaps, might get the wrong (or perhaps right) impression.

1 picture can be seen by millions, who make assumptios and think badly one way or another.

When you dance you maybe talk to 10 people, who may smile but actually reject your argument.

Think of the non-b/f sides and do the math!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 04:19 AM

a miner
a chimney sweep
a soldier in camouflage
a poacher or burglar trying to make themselves inconspicuous at night

Why then when you see a blacked-up morris dancer should the automatic conclusion be that its racist?


We could add the coal-man to that list too, and the blacksmith, and perhaps go on to speculate as why a chimney-sweep kissing the bride on her wedding day is lucky, or else what it is about black-smiths that remains charmed in certain traditions. Ultimately such meanings are the stuff of speculation, which leads, invariably, to hard and fast fakelore. Vocational back-face is either incidental or else born of some greater necessity, such as camouflage, although one would have though by blacking-up the burglar / poacher would only make themselves more conspicuous, but that's by the by. A Morris Dancer does not need to be disguised, nor yet camouflaged; neither do their faces get black as a consequence of their labours. What interests me here are the supposed & overriding non-racist reasons for Morris Dancers blacking-up which haven't as yet emerged.

So, why do certain Morris Dancers feel the need to black-up?

It seems we have people taking offence on behalf of minority groups and making assumptions about what they would think and feel.

I don't take offence on behalf of any minority group, rather on behalf of a greater humanity which is at once personal and general. It offends my sensitivities as a human being, recognising the dangers whereby such overt mockery becomes somehow acceptable - be it the Britannia Mills Coconut Dancers, The Shropshire Bedlams, Al Jolson or the Black and White fucking Minstrel Show.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 04:25 AM

"I shall answer your questions, and perhaps you'll extend me the same courtesy & look at groups like Hunters Moon & the Witchmen who have gone for a gothic look and explain to me how the black-face in context of that outfit can be considered a parody of black people."

OK I did and I also looked up some images of minstrels. Now as with all of this debate we are in our respective corners but I think if you stick some feathers in the hat of the guy on the right the image of the minstrel is not that far away from that of the morris side.

Minstrel Image

You & yours will of course deny this!

I wonder if you'll look back in 10 years and cringe at the fact you were blacking up in 2009? I'm pretty confident you will.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 04:31 AM

a miner
a chimney sweep


both look like someone who's got covered in soot/coal dust in the course of their work

a soldier in camouflage
a poacher or burglar trying to make themselves inconspicuous at night


both look like someone who's, well, trying to make themselves inconspicuous at night

Minstrels blacked up so as to look like a highly conspicuous caricature of black people - and because it was just the way you did a minstrel show - and put themselves on display with music and songs.

Border Morris dancers black up because it's just the way you do Border Morris, and put themselves on display with music and dancing.

The analogy may be misleading, but it's a hell of a lot closer than sweeps or poachers.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 06:27 AM

I `ad that `ead teacher from the nippers school that banned the blacked up Morris men in my cab again the other day. She looked well
un -`appy. She`d just been to a meeting with `er PTA.
I said, " Whats up? They give you a `ard time all about the rucus over them Morris men?
She said, " You can say that again. I thought I was doing the right thing for `em but they want to take it further. They are demanding I remove all blackboards, replace them with white and use pink chalk!!"

Whaddam I Like!!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Howard Jones
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 06:33 AM

"Minstrels blacked up so as to look like a highly conspicuous caricature of black people - and because it was just the way you did a minstrel show - and put themselves on display with music and songs.

Border Morris dancers black up because it's just the way you do Border Morris, and put themselves on display with music and dancing."

That's my point too, although I realise you are using it to make a different argument.

Minstrels blacked up as a caricature of black people - of course that is offensive, and is rightly not considered acceptable nowadays. I still fail to see how a border morris dancer in full fig could be seen in any way as a caricature of a black person.

When I followed Banjiman's link I was expecting to see a picture of someone dressed in tatters or something similar - in fact it's just someone wearing a jacket and trousers and a top hat. If you stuck feathers in the hat I'm afraid my reaction would still be that it looks like a minstrel with feathers in his hat rather than a morris dancer.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,John from Kemsing
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 06:40 AM

Is there any truth in the rumour that all the Gilbert and Sullivan operas depicting Oriental ladies and gentlemen are to be banned in our theatres?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,EricTheOrange
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 08:33 AM

> Eric, this is a spurious argument, and it'd been presented too often here. The lampooning of one race by another is offensive, period.

Was there any suggestion that Motley were lampooning black people? Please show your evidence.


> I, a white man, am offended by the influence of minstrels on morris.

You're entitled to feel offended on your own behalf. I believe this case is to do with people taking decisions on the assumption that a minority might be offended which is something different.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 09:00 AM

I believe this case is to do with people taking decisions on the assumption that a minority might be offended which is something different.

As indicated below, this isn't the case at all. The point bears repeating - I am an individual human offended on behalf of a greater humanity. Not only offended, but highly embarrassed by such gratuitous reactionary posturing.

Still awaiting these non-racist reasons for morris dancers blacking-up by the way.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,tom bliss
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 09:06 AM

Eric. School policies, along with those set by most institutions, are a result of many develooments in race relations, over many years. All of it in response to a gradual enlightenment in public opinion and awareness. This is a good thing, and England is all the better for it.

Most who think deeply about issues like this recognise that mind-sets matter enormouly. The personal informs the political, and the political informs the Political.

Motley may or may not be guilty of casual racial insensitivity. Some more so than others, probably. But sonme of their spporters here do seem to be dangerously 'unreconstructed.'

It's not so much the make-up which bothers me, it's the blinkers - and the negative PR for other dance styles, and the whole folk movement.

If you want to promote border morris, concentrate on the dance and the music.

Why risk everything for a bit of black slap?

Tom


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: glueman
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 09:20 AM

Only read the first three posts of this thread but a few thoughts - minstrel black face has only lately been revealed for the highly dubious entertainment form it is - is black face Morris not too close for comfort?
If someone can show a few hundred years of black slap continuity I may re-align my instinctive response but at the moment its telling me a West Indian kid wandering across a blacked-up dance troup would have no reason not to believe it was some kind of racial triumphalism.

Apologies if the idea has already been covered or corrected.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 09:41 AM

I still fail to see how a border morris dancer in full fig could be seen in any way as a caricature of a black person.

The point is, the minstrel tradition is the only context in which most people in this country have seen anybody blacked up for entertainment purposes. So whether you put a blacked-up white man in a tatter coat, a suit and tie or a spacesuit, those minstrel associations will still be there. The only people for whom this won't be the case are people who have seen more blacked-up Border Morris than they have blacked-up minstrels - and I venture to suggest that there aren't very many of those, outside the ranks of the BM dancers themselves.

Now, take that same white man and dress him in "full fig" - but leave off the face makeup, or paint his face some other colour (green, blue, white, whatever). Does he look blacked up, with connotations of the minstrel look? No. Does he look the part of a Border Morris dancer? Yes.

So what's the problem with simply not using black?

PS Why did Richard the Lionheart get irritable when he saw Blondel coming to sing to him?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 09:57 AM

>>The point is, the minstrel tradition is the only context in which most people in this country have seen anybody blacked up for entertainment purposes<<

The point is that most people in this country have never seen "the minstrel tradition".

I would bet my mortgage that any survey of the general awareness of the population of "minstrelsy" would show as near to a nil response as to be negligible; then survey the general awareness of minstrelsy in relation to morris dancing and there would be only a handful of people - from this thread probably - who would have even the slightest clue.

Some of you are so right-on that you are seeking to create an issue that has no real substance - except in your own minds.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 10:17 AM

I suspect you're not aware of how public relations work. How a few widespread images can influnce wide areas of opinion.

You may only care about your patch, but festival promoters and others who want English Trad Arts to flourish need to take a national view.

Specially in view of current BNP policy. Or don't you mind that?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: glueman
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 10:26 AM

"The point is that most people in this country have never seen "the minstrel tradition".

The Black and White Minstel Show was a depressing part of weekend TV for myself and many others.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 10:38 AM

"I suspect you're not aware of how public relations work. How a few widespread images can influnce wide areas of opinion.

You may only care about your patch, but festival promoters and others who want English Trad Arts to flourish need to take a national view.

Specially in view of current BNP policy. Or don't you mind that?"

I don't see any evidence, anywhere, that black face border has had any adverse impact on anyone or anything. Are you suggesting that festival promoters refuse to book black face morris?

I don't see that BNP policy is informed by black face border either.

Like it or not (and I don't) the BNP is a legal, legitimate political party. If anything it is you who are playing into their hands with this issue - whatever genuine political point you have to make is trivialised by this crusade against blacking up.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 10:40 AM

"The Black and White Minstel Show was a depressing part of weekend TV for myself and many others."

Did you not enjoy it then? Or is your depression a revisionist thing.

I quite liked it at the time...


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 10:49 AM

I quite liked it at the time...

Where does that leave your earlier comment?

most people in this country have never seen "the minstrel tradition".


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 11:04 AM

That comment is still true, imho. The last B+W minstrel show was de-commissioned in 1978. It's popularity had been in decline since about 1967. No one would equate the B+W show to border morris - I certainly did and do not..

But we are not talking about that we are talking about "The Minstrel Tradition".


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 11:34 AM

But we are not talking about that we are talking about "The Minstrel Tradition".

Perhaps I was unclear. When I said "the minstrel tradition" I meant "white men wearing black or dark-brown makeup, with white lips and eyes, and singing songs coming (purportedly) from the Old South". And I remain convinced that a lot more people in this country think of that, when they see someone blacked-up, than think of Border Morris.

What baffles me about this whole discussion is how easy it would be to avoid any possibility of offence. As I said earlier on, take a white dancer and dress her in "full fig" - but leave off the face makeup, or paint her face some other colour (green, blue, white, whatever). Does she look blacked up, with connotations of the minstrel look? No. Does she look the part of a Border Morris dancer? Yes. So why not just use a different colour?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 11:38 AM

"Does she look blacked up, with connotations of the minstrel look? No. Does she look the part of a Border Morris dancer? Yes. So why not just use a different colour?"

Sounds like a perfectly reasonable question to me.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 11:42 AM

PS Why did Richard the Lionheart get irritable when he saw Blondel coming to sing to him?

Anybody? Nobody? Bueller?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 12:29 PM

Come on, Pip - put us out of our misery!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Smokey.
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 12:48 PM

Posts by members of minorities such as Martin Duffy and myself have pointed out that people taking offence on behalf of these communities is itself offensive. The presumption however well intentioned is in itself another form of discrimination. (Eric the Orange)

Exactly my point, and better articulated.

I am offended by the BNP. I am offended by some dancers' refusal to recognise that black-face plays into their hands. (Tom Bliss)

So does the censorship of it, which I find more offensive. Everyone has a right to be offended, and preemptive censorship on such flimsy grounds does nothing to alleviate racism, it is more likely to promote it.

Why did Richard the Lionheart get irritable when he saw Blondel coming to sing to him?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 12:53 PM

Pre-minstrel tension.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Smokey.
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 12:59 PM

Darn it, got tea down my nose now.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 01:02 PM

Just for clarification, I think only Sean has called for a ban. The rest of us are advocating a re-think by any dancers with entrenched views, in the interests of all.

You need to look more closely at the aims of the BNP before you equate our suggestions with those.

This is all about informed choices.

We cannot choose the colour of our skin (no Jackson jokes, please).

Everything else flows from that.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Smokey.
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 01:20 PM

You need to look more closely at the aims of the BNP before you equate our suggestions with those.

I'm not equating anyone's suggestions with the BNP, and I understand their aims only too well. We cannot choose the colour of our skin, (unless we wear make-up) so what is the point of exaggerating prejudice with patronising gestures? We should celebrate our differences, not use them to make political points. Those children, and their teachers, could have learned a very valuable lesson, and they have been denied that.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 01:33 PM

"This is all about informed choices."

Informed choices? Surely no one can disagree with that. So those who make an informed choice to black up are entitled to do so.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 01:34 PM

' Those children, and their teachers, could have learned a very valuable lesson, and they have been denied that.'

You are forgetting that this was an open day, not a controlled lesson. This is crucial to the dabate - the whole matter turns on whether you can set a context or not. In situations where people may jump to conclusions and cannot be advised otherwise, and where there is no opportunity for debate, then activities which may 'confuse' (teacher's word), are best avoided.

I couldn't follow your other points.

I would like to know how many who defend black make-up here wear it themselves.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Smokey.
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 01:40 PM

I realise it was an open day event, but that gives even more people the opportunity to learn.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 01:43 PM

' those who make an informed choice to black up are entitled to do so.'

Agreed.

But it looks to me as though many dancers have been misinformed about the origins of the practice.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Smokey.
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 02:18 PM

We could argue about the origins of the practice 'til doomsday, but the important thing is the current intention of it. Misunderstandings are unavoidable, but they provide an opportunity to learn. I see this incident as a perpetuation of ignorance.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 02:31 PM

We could argue about the origins of the practice 'til doomsday, but the important thing is the current intention of it.

I don't know what horrifies me more - the punch-line to Pip's jest, or this latest splat of pure bullshit from Smokey. Surely an understanding of the origins of the practice are integral to the current intention of it. If you're not clear on the former, then how the hell can you be so certain of the latter?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Smokey.
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 02:38 PM

Ask the dancers.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 02:39 PM

Once I would have agreed with you, but having read this thread with an open mind I now see this incident as a perpetuation of ignorance avoided. The school felt they could notexplain to everyone, some might have rejected the explanation (with good reason) and the press may have attended.

All Motley had to do was make a gesture, and they could have explained why they usually wore make-up (or used to).


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Eric the Viking
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 02:42 PM

For the Richard the Lionheart solution read;The Talisman by Sir Walter Scott.

I've read all the posts and for my two penneth. I think the problem with understanding why offence is taken or given is that for over a thousand years the white/light skinned person has dominated the world to a greater or lesser extent.

We (Whites/Northern and central european tribes) conquered almost everywhere, killing, raping and plundering, taking as slaves,ruling with our rules, laws and religion, assuming leadership of country and continent alike.We carried out mass genoside over centuries. It was the way it was in less enlightened times. Even with Christianity (supposed to be a religion of love not hate) we still carried on. we had the developing technology and the drive to explore,conquer and exploit on a large scale. It is still, sadly, the mindset of white peoples everywhere and comes from this long history.It's not right and we are at last working to change it. Imagine if it had been the other way round and native africans had extened their tribes and empires in the way we had. We would be the underdogs, having years of suppression.They could have invented "The Caucasian minstrel show". Their tribal dances could have mimicked white culture.

I'm not saying that there is intentional racism in some of the things we say and do but given our culture and heritage, I'm not supprised that people don't really want to understand why something might be now considered offensive.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Smokey.
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 02:45 PM

I can see why both the headmistress and Motley did what they did, I'm just a bit sad that either was necessary.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,romanyman on another puter
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 02:58 PM

as usual the thread goes from one thing to another , the usual longwinded explanations of the whys and wherefore of morris, the expert opinions of why this and that is right or wrong , the vast amount of so called experts we have out there we should have no bloody problems, the main thing is blacking up has always been so why bloody change it, the p,c brigade are alwys defending absolute crap, so sod it, its done its dusted, motley should keep on doing what they do they have the right, the school has the right to say no, if the pious and rightious folks out there need to explain every bloody thing then yes you also have the right, so       everyones right, or am i wrong , ahh no if thats the case then not everyones right look its something that im sure we all will get over but beware the pc brigade make one change and tey will demand everything, stop looking back. look forward for a change, tradition is tradition, leave it alone.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 03:23 PM

Remember "The Henge" - I don't recall the blackened faces offending anyone then. Of course it was never performed at Broadstairs because of the Mythago members' appalling pull out.

Why folks can't be just left alone to entertain in whatever way they see fit. I remember the seeing the Trackers of Oxyrinchus at the National Theatre, and some of the actors wore giant knobs, but I don't recall any pricks in the audience being offended!!!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 03:27 PM

Hello Bonzo,

I dance with Mythago, which pull-out are you referring to?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 03:44 PM

"Minstrelsy was certainly not celebrating black culture - it was a mocking and grotesque parody. Read this if you are in any doubt."

I did read this, what it says is a bit more nuanced than that (though of course Wikipedia isn't really to be treated as an authority). :

Blackface minstrelsy was the first distinctly American theatrical form. In the 1830s and 1840s, it was at the core of the rise of an American music industry, and for several decades it provided the lens through which white America saw black America. On the one hand, it had strong racist aspects; on the other, it afforded white Americans a singular and broad awareness of significant aspects of black-American culture.

The analogy Howard Jones made with "the present fashion for white youths to imitate the dress and mannerisms of black rap culture" is interesting - I suspect that future generations might well be likely to see that kind of thing as a "mocking and grotesque parody". And of course it might in time be done with precisely that intention.

And I suspect that for some black rap performers it may be a matter of adopting the mannerisms and dress on stage, in a way that has something in common with those black performers who in post Civil War days formed all-black minstrel shows, including black make up, as a way of getting a chance to perform.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 03:59 PM

"I dance with Mythago, which pull-out are you referring to?"

2003 - the very hot weekend in August.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Martin Duffy
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 04:06 PM

Ahhh - that was before I even danced with them!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,EricTheOrange
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 02:56 AM

I am offended by the BNP. I am offended by some dancers' refusal to recognise that black-face plays into their hands. (Tom Bliss)

Surrender ground to these scum at your peril. It's taken a generation to start reclaiming The St. George's & Union flags from their predecessors. In Germany they're still having problems dealing with the legacy of the Nazi misuse of German Folk music.

Choose to explain educate & debate. Banning plays right into their hands and gives them another "justification" for promoting their abhorrent views.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 03:20 AM

Banning plays right into their hands and gives them another "justification" for promoting their abhorrent views.

And so does getting yourself banned, which is what Motley did in this case.

Here's two alternatives:

a) A bunch of people dance like loons and whack sticks, wearing tatter coats and with their faces painted some other colour than black.

b) Nobody dances, but a story appears in the paper saying that Morris dancers will only appear in blackface, because they say it's traditional (even though they've only been doing it since 1989), and they don't care if anyone says it looks racist.

Which one of these would make a good advert for Border Morris, and which one is more likely to benefit the BNP?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 04:07 AM

Excuse me Motley did not get banned


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 04:08 AM

The school asked them to dance without blacking up.

Motley chose not to.

End of story

They were not banned


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: melodeonboy
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 04:09 AM

Here's two alternatives:

a) The Morris dancers are allowed to dance. Everybody has a good time, and no one tries to make an issue where none exists. A large number of children from ethnic minority groups in the area get exposure to an aspect of British culture which they might otherwise not see, and another small step towards the appreciation of cultural diversity is made.

b) The Morris dancers are not allowed to dance. The press get hold of the story, which then makes the actions of the Head (and, by implication, the anti-racist movement in general) look stupid and petty in the eyes of Joe Public. The far right can then cite it as yet another example where white British people are being pushed around by others.

Which one is more likely to benefit the BNP?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Villan
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 04:14 AM

To take that a step further.

I book a singer for my club and stupidly do not check them out, before booking.

Later on, I realise that the singer is a capella. I don't like a capella.

So I ring the person up and say "Sorry, but can you do your songs accompanied by a guitar or some other instrument.

The singer says no.

So I tell them that I can't book them after all.

Has that singer now been banned from appearing at my venue?

Of course not.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 04:21 AM

Well put, Pip.

It's the media images and end-of-the-street views which matter here, not the the squire's speech.

The BNP claim they are championing English trad arts.
Blackface is a 'brand-builder' with strong image associations which 'fit' the BNP claims.

If, God forbid, I was designing an a campaign for Griffin, blackface morris would be near the top of my list.

It presses all the 'right' buttons.

Sorry about that.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 04:35 AM

Hmmm. The BNP apparently has its own Border Morris side, who dance out at its annueal Red White and Blue Festival.

Wonder if they black up...


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Howard Jones
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 04:42 AM

"... and they don't care if anyone says it looks racist."

No, because they believe it isn't racist, but to concede the point would imply that it is.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 04:56 AM

'they believe it isn't racist, [and]to concede the point would imply that it is.'

But supposing they are wrong in this belief?

You see in matters of promotion, you have to start with the perception of the 'market' and work backwards, to find the path down which you can send your message.

The 'marketplace' currently thinks blackface is racist.

It those sides had a budget to change that perception, they might do it - though it wouldn't be easy given the politics of some dancers and the historical facts.

But they don't have a budget. just a chance, not always taken, for some street crying. and those opportunities are reduced by, for example, schools not booking them because they present as intransegent.

The BNP does, however, have a budget, and is pushing at an open door.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,tom bliss
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 05:00 AM

sorry, me.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 05:03 AM

Melodeonboy -

A large number of children from ethnic minority groups in the area get exposure to an aspect of British culture which they might otherwise not see, and another small step towards the appreciation of cultural diversity is made.

A large number of children from ethnic minority groups are presented with white people dancing with their faces painted black. Do you honestly not think there might be a few objections?

Howard -

they believe it isn't racist, but to concede the point would imply that it is.

No, no, no, no, no. To concede the point would imply that they care what other people think - no more and no less.

But to refuse to concede the point says that they don't care if other people think they're racist. Not only that, it says that if you aren't willing to accept blackface, then you don't get any Morris dancing.

Now, which group of people do you think is more likely to object: (a) people strongly opposed to racism or (b) racists? And if Motley's attitude was widespread (which thankfully it isn't), where would you be more likely to see Border Morris: at an anti-racist event or a BNP festival?

If Motley were an original Border side (is there such a thing?) I'd have some sympathy for their position. Since they're not - they're in Essex and they've been doing it since the 1980s - they strike me as stiff-necked short-sighted idiots.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 05:07 AM

I'm still waiting for those non-racists reasons for blacking-up.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 05:23 AM

"I'm still waiting for those non-racists reasons for blacking-up."

It's the fashion - you've been told this before but ignore it.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 05:35 AM

That's not really an answer. As I'm sure you'll remember, punks in 1977 wore swastika armbands because it was the fashion - it was still an offensive symbol. In the case of punk, of course, the entire point was to offend people, but I didn't think that was the idea with Border Morris.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 06:05 AM

"That's not really an answer. As I'm sure you'll remember, punks in 1977 wore swastika armbands because it was the fashion - it was still an offensive symbol. In the case of punk, of course, the entire point was to offend people, but I didn't think that was the idea with Border Morris."

Of course it's an answer. Your problem with it is that it does not fit with your interpretation or beliefs.

I suspect, but don't know any more than you do, that most blacked up sides do it because of the fashion started by the Bedlams in the 70s and do not do it to offend. Some here insist on believing it is either racist or done with intent to offend and will accept no other explanation.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 06:31 AM

I suspect, but don't know any more than you do, that most blacked up sides do it because of the fashion started by the Bedlams in the 70s and do not do it to offend.

Yes, I think we're all agreed on that.

Some here insist on believing it is either racist or done with intent to offend and will accept no other explanation.

No. It's a fact that blackface makeup has a racist history and racist connotations. What non-racist history does it have - 20 years of dancing, maybe 30 at the outside? What non-racist connotations does it have - "we do it like this because we like doing it like this"?

Going back to the swastika armbands, if punks were told they were dressing offensively, they could answer that the entire point of the look was to be offensive. Is the point of blackface to offend? If not, what is it?

And what is the problem with using a different colour?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 07:16 AM

"It's a fact that blackface makeup has a racist history and racist connotations. What non-racist history does it have - 20 years of dancing, maybe 30 at the outside? What non-racist connotations does it have - "we do it like this because we like doing it like this"?

This is why the whole argument is pointless - "It's a fact" you say. Whatever else it may be it is not a "fact". The race card is an interpretation of history that suits your personal viewpoint

There are very few real facts in history and revisionists like to interpret history through their modern sensibilities. They then use their interpretation of the "facts" to support their current dogma. It is perfect really - you prove your historical point by reference to your current opinions then use that historical proof to support your current dogma.

All your objections are based on the single premise that black face is racist, but you have no objective evidence.

In "fact": " What non-racist history does it have - 20 years of dancing, maybe 30 at the outside? Yes, it has 30 years of non-racist history – until a few days ago…


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 09:02 AM

Moz - it is a fact that blackface makeup has a racist history: I'm not saying it doesn't have any other historical associations, but we know it has a racist history.

It's also a fact that it now has racist connotations - again, it may have others, but we know that the racist connotations exist.

I'm challenging you (and others) to say what its non-racist history is and what its non-racist connotations are. I'm not hearing much, apart from "we like doing it this way, and we've been doing it this way ever since we started doing it this way".

What's the problem with using a different colour?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 09:22 AM

Pip

If by "Moz" you are referring to me, where is it established that black face in modern Border, (circa Shropshire Bedlams - was/is John Kirkpatrick a racist then?) has racist history or connotation?

It is for those alleging the crime to prove it not for those accused to disprove it.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,John from Kemsing
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 09:34 AM

For a number of years certain television programmes and films have had a prior warning broadcast advising viewers ...." the following programme contains scenes of a sexual nature, violence from the beginning and language that may cause offence...", or words to that effect, the viewer then deciding to watch or not. Then why not advise potential viewers of our cultural pursuits that the performance may contain aspects liable to cause offence.
You pays your money, you takes your choice.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 09:43 AM

So, the reason why certain Morris Dancers black-up is because they are (surprise, surprise) dedicated followers of fashion. I'm disappointed, especially when the opening posts of this thread lead with things like:

Surely they should have been given the time to explain the tradition.

And:

Ignorent [sic] people immediately assume the wrong thing and do not take the time to look into the tradition.

This is what I was wanting to see explained here, just what The Tradition is, if, indeed, it really is something other than racial mockery. Could it be that a mere fashion dating back to the 1960s and otherwise seemingly void of all symbolic meaning is somehow The Tradition as eluded to above? In which case it would seem there is no reason whatsoever for blacking-up, other than to fly in the face of a decency one would have assumed is the duty of every thinking person on planet earth. In which case, shame on the lot of you.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,tom bliss
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 09:53 AM

'It is for those alleging the crime to prove it not for those accused to disprove it'.

You are applying the statute rule of a court of law to the very different court of public opinion.

This is about assumptions and precoceptions, not laws.

You HAVE to start from the status quo of the vast majority. Morris is undervalued and misunderstood - blackface is seen as reactioary or worse.

Supporters have an uphill task to change those views .

That task may call for compromise over the contentious issues, specially if the send an erronious message (which it'll be VERY hard to change), and definitely if that message is in fact correct (as I think we have established it is).

Morris-ey. Can we take it you dance? Do you black up?

Tom


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 10:20 AM

Tom

I think this must be my last word on this because we could go back and forth until old age brings it to an end.

There is no "court of public opinion" outside of the very insular and parochial world of this forum.

The vast majority of normal people in England don't give a toss about morris dancing generally or Border in particular.

I see no evidence that the majority of folkies, let alone any in the general population, consider black face to be an issue. Therefore I see no erroneous message even if I were to accept, which I don't, that your interpretation of racism were correct.

I also cannot see what earthly difference this would make to the BNP, its supporters, or to those who might be thinking of joining them.

Supporters of the BNP, again generally speaking, come from areas of deprivation where they feel mainstream politics has let them down. They are probably right.

We might spend our time better in addressing what is so lacking in "traditional" party politics that people turn to extreme parties, rather than wasting time on the politics of morris dancing.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 10:26 AM

The issue isn't even being discussed on the Morris Dance Discussion List !


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 10:28 AM

where is it established that black face in modern Border, (circa Shropshire Bedlams - was/is John Kirkpatrick a racist then?) has racist history or connotation?

I've never said that blackface in modern Border has a racist history or connotations. I'm saying that blackface as such has racist history and connotations. If the history and connotations of blackface in modern Border are so different, then, er, what are they?

The Villan, on your side of the argument, said: Ignorent people immediately assume the wrong thing and do not take the time to look into the tradition.

So, what would they find if they did look into the tradition?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 10:39 AM

I saw a comment by another poster down the thread, regards 'gothic' and 'mytho-pagan' stylings in Morris. All good fun to me, and yes the gothic costumes of people like the Witch Men does indeed suit a black face. Though in order to fully dissconnect any possible associations of the blacking to racial-parody, why not take it one small step further and add runes, pentagrams, ogham (or otherwise pagan/gothic symbols/sigils unique to the side), to the otherwise black face make-up?

I've also mentioned it elsewhere, but sides adopting such mythic and fakloric pagan imagery might do well to take a look at Nigel Pennicks fascinating book about guising traditions in Europe. Lots of varied inspiration from other real guising traditions, for any such mytho-pagan side to draw from contained within.

A review Here: Crossing the Borderlines: Guising, Masking & Ritual Animal Disguises in the European Tradition. Not available from Amazon: Buy here.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 10:40 AM

Morris-ey.

So your justification is that Morris is a private club that can set its own rules?

Well, I'm sorry but that won't wash.

The head teacher was thinking of the wider issues, as Motley shoul have been.

As I said way up the thread, morris is colourful and noisy, so punches above its weight in the folk promotion stakes. Dancers have a duty, as we performers do, to think about our actions for the good of the movement.

I notice that when I ask about your make-up you announce you retirement from the debate. is that an expession of interest?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 10:54 AM

Tom

ffs

I have said before that what is not illegal is OK by me in so far as I respect the right of others to cause offence whether knowingly or unknowingly.

"The movement"! On the tiny moonlet of morris it might mean something but not in any real world.

I now longer dance and when I did it was Cotswold so we wore white - probably offensive to in a too "white" sort of way. If I had or were to dance Border I would have no problem blacking up.

Any "interest" I have is the wider interest of freedom of expression under the law and to uphold the right of others to express views contrary to my own.

You should try it.

And that is my last word. If you wish to claim victory from my silence hereinafter, feel free...


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 11:10 AM

Thanks for that clarification.

I shall assume nothing from your silence.

Before you go, may I once again point up the crucial differencs between giving offence over conscious choices like faith, creed, politics, philosophy and fashion - which may require caution but is often healthy, and giving offence over things you can't change like skin colour, disability and gender.

A lot of people here seem not to understand the difference.

If you're happy for morris to remain a misunderstood minor sport, fair enough - though I'd repeat my points about the BNP threat.

Me, I want English folk music and dance to be as important here as it is in Scotland and Ireland.

I may be leaving the field but I still think it should be an objective for all.

Specially anyone with a high media profile.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,John from Kemsing
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 11:44 AM

Tom,
    There is no crucial difference. If you offend, then you offend. There is no situation where you only half offend, in exactly the same way as one cannot be partially dead. I refer to the earlier post, if it`s not your cup of tea and you have been advised then don`t watch it or read it.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 11:53 AM

I disagree - strongly.

In matters of people's choices its all about context and manners.

In matters over which people have no choice then offence should be avoided and tolerance and empathy are called for.

If you stick with that basic rule you won't go far wrong.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,John from Kemsing
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 12:10 PM

I would not be surprised if, from when "man" live in caves, he and she have taken part in lampooning, ridiculing as well as extolling others due to differences and it has probably contributed to the strong psyche that exists in humans today. The alternative seems a grey, drab world. But, until these activities become illegal, live with it and ignore and treat with disdain those that are not your cup of tea. For example, there are not, if any, marches around Westminster calling for the head of Bernard Manning but at the same time I doubt there are any members of ethnic groups support his performances by attending.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 02:31 PM

I doubt there are any members of ethnic groups support his performances by attending.

Well they couldn't if they wanted, since he died in 2007.

So far as blackface and offence is conbcerned, I would suspect that it's the idea and not the reality that's the problem. Say "black make up" and the image people have is of performers dressed up and behaving in a way that parodies black people. Which in this case could well be the image likely to be conveyed by children to their parents, which teh school was worried about.

The reality of blackface, whether Border Morris style or Rochester sweeps, is very different, and I very much doubt if many people coming across it in its natural habitat, the street, ever see this as being anything to do with parodying black people.

Common sense in these matters is important - and it would have made every sense in a school performance to adjust things so as to avoid this kind of misunderstanding.

In fact it would have been basic good manners to make such an adjustment by switching to a different colour for the occasion. specially since there is no longstanding tradition involved which can be seen as a matter of principle.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Smokey.
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 06:39 PM

What on earth are 'non racist connotations', and how might morris dancers articulate them?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Smokey.
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 07:47 PM

I'm still waiting for those non-racists reasons for blacking-up.

I can well see how blacking up could be used to highlight or enhance the offensiveness of some act of racial hatred or discrimination, but to the best of my admittedly limited knowledge, morris dancing has never had that aim. I'm assuming Motley do primarily it because they want to. That is a non-racist reason I can certainly live with. I expect if they start getting significant negative feedback from black people at gigs, they'll think again, but if their 'gimmick' is not motivated by racial hatred, discrimination, mockery etc., then I don't blame them for their stance in this sorry incident.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Smokey.
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 07:50 PM

I'm assuming Motley do primarily it because they want to

And I'll talk gibberish if I want to.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Aeola
Date: 11 Jul 09 - 04:54 PM

I wonder what our PC friends would make of our early miners returning from work!!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Smokey.
Date: 11 Jul 09 - 10:09 PM

Perhaps they could wear black ski-masks or balaclavas.

That aside, I found this on John Kirkpatrick's website, taken from an old interview:

"We used to sing the words, "There was a little nigger but he grew no bigger ... " but we've changed them to avoid offending black people. I don't think there's any cause for offence in blacking up, but singing about niggers is rather different. I must say we have rarely come across blacks where we live, obviously by travelling around we see more, but they usually either seem to understand the point of the disguise or they don't make any connection at all. The first time we ever danced out, we were all driving up to the pub in our blacking for the first time, nobody could recognise anybody else, and this carload of Africans turned up in full flowing robes. This had been set up by one of our members and he hadn't told the rest of us, so we were shitting ourselves even more than we were already. But they loved it. "


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Vic Smith
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 09:58 AM

Of course, if Motley Morris no longer have an outlet for their skills at school fetes, they could always turn their talents to Table Morris Dancing


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: akenaton
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 04:54 PM

We don't have Morris dancing in Scotland, as far as I know, but I have read that the original "Moorish"? dancers were "black" or brown.
If this is true, would it affect how some here view the blacking up of the Morris team?
What are the origins of Morris dancing?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 05:03 PM

What are the origins of Morris dancing?

Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 05:27 PM

Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh!!!!!!

Could we have a tune for that?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: akenaton
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 05:37 PM

I take it by that reaction, that all Morris dancing is offensive....whether the performers are blacked up or not? :0)

If it was originally performed by blacks (there is some evidence of blacking up from the early 1800's) wouldn't some here consider all Morris dancing as "racist"?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 05:44 PM

I take it by that reaction, that all Morris dancing is offensive....whether the performers are blacked up or not? :0)

I love Morris Dancing, even Fluffy Morris, I just flee in horror from discussions on the origins thereof - although it would seem Fluffy has the more genuine claim to being actually Traditional, as oppose to a revivalist fantasy.

Please note: I have no problem with revivalist fantasies, just as long as they don't pass themselves off as a) traditional or b) keeping the tradition alive.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Jul 09 - 07:52 PM

I would like to put forward two points[these are not necessarily my opinions]but I think they are worth considering.
1.the blacking up is different from the blacking up of the black and white minstrels,there is no whiting up of the eyes and mouth.
2.the intention[as far as I can make out from discussing with morris dancers] is a disguise,not an imitation of black and white or earlier minstrels,or black people,nor is the intention as far as I can ascertain,an attempt to ridicule black people.
having said all that as a white person,who has only suffered a tiny amount of racial abuse,it is difficult for me to know, how it must feel to be a black person who has suffered racial abuse,and how the majority of black people,feel about Blacking/Browning up


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 06:52 AM

nor is the intention as far as I can ascertain,an attempt to ridicule black people.

It hasn't been made clear yet what the actual intention is, other than it being, somehow, fashionable to do so. Even if the intention is not racist, it is just plain stupidity than cannot see that a white person blacking up for fun has overriding racist implications.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Smokey.
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 04:46 PM

I can see how some people might perceive racist implications, but not everyone. Perhaps it requires intelligence.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 04:53 PM

"Perhaps it requires intelligence."

Funny!

Because the most intelligently expressed posts on this thread by far (bar R. Bridge's IMO) have come from individuals articulating their thoughts about why blacking-up might not be supportable as a so-called 'traditional' practice.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 05:54 PM

I would like to ask ,whether is it true,that Morris sides that black up will not be booked at Sidmouth.
I see this as a very grey area,the morris sides that are blacking up,are not putting on the same disguise on as the black and white minstrels,or the earlier minstrels[please note I am not using the offensive word]
there have been suggestions that the morris sides should be masked,because that removes the minstrel association,but then the corking up of morris sides is different from the minstrels[although, it is closer than the masked disguise].
are the bacup coconut dancers next to be criticised for blacking up?


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 06:14 PM

I think any blacking-up needs to be justified, and the justification needs to be a bit stronger than "because we felt like it" or "because we wanted to dance Border and that's how you do it". The Bacup Coconutters have got a stronger justification, in the form of actual tradition. So no, I don't think they're 'next' to be criticised after Motley - that would be A. N. Other Border Side, closely followed by Yet Another Border Side and Oh No Not Another Border Side.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Old Vermin
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 06:26 PM

And as for how that there new side from hold their sticks while the other side of the side beats 'em, why if that were to get into the Dreary Maul there'd be all manner of accusations - obscenity and who knows what.

Purple face -paint works far too well with purple rag-coast. Works so well your eyes'll cross just a-trying to look at it. An' as for purple and green, I asks you....

The way forward has to be green and purple. And black, which is the new black.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Smokey.
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 06:32 PM

It's a grey area.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: akenaton
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 02:39 AM

There are obviously people here who know the dancers concerned, what they have to ask themselves is "do they think these people are racist"....if they know them and don't believe they are racist, they should shut the fuck up.

It is none of their business what colour the dancers paint their faces....as the posters above have said every colour could give offense to some minority or other. "Perhaps it requires intelligence."....I think I agree with Smokey!!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:00 AM

The Bacup Coconutters have got a stronger justification, in the form of actual tradition.

Personally I don't think tradition is any excuse at all. And haven't they already been banned from dancing in Manchester? I saw them dancing last year at Fylde and found it uncomfortable to watch; disturbing to think that anyone, let alone the dancers themselves, could find this in any way acceptable in 21st Century England. Of course it is in no way traditional for them to dance outside of Bacup on any other day than Easter Saturday, so in this sense they're no different from any other folk dance troupe - just a bunch of burly blokes in extremely silly costumes. Their blacked-up faces not only offend my humanity, they also scare me shitless as to what they represent in terms of a far deeper tradition of xenophobia and racial intolerance that is the source & cause of most of the worlds tensions. Harmless fun? Hardly the wonder the BNP are hiking such things to their noxious cause. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Nutters : Image One

Nutters : Image Two


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:32 AM

as the posters above have said every colour could give offense to some minority or other

I don't know which world you live in, akenaton, but in this one there's a long history of White people blacking-up in imitation of Black people. Browning-up, yellowing-up... not so much. And do tell us who is likely to be offended by dancers with their faces painted blue, or purple, or khaki, or white.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:35 AM

As for the Nutters, I do think they've got a better excuse for using blackface than Motley et al. That's not to say it's a good excuse!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:52 AM

If you, as a white person, feel the need to paint your face any colour at all, then paint by all means it white, as The Pierrotters do.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: GUEST,Phil
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 03:59 AM

It's been very interesting reading this thread, but why no mention of Plough Monday, Molly etc in East Anglia. Simply a disguise, everyone who went out on Plough Monday blackened their faces, nothing to do with pretending to be black people. Other colours do not disguise white/pink people.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 04:22 AM

GUEST - lots of references to Molly in this thread, most (but not all) of them making the same point.

But even if Molly blacking-up does predate the minstrel tradition, I don't think that gives contemporary Morris sides a good enough reason to black up. The problem is (if I can repeat myself), the minstrel tradition is the only context in which most people in this country have seen anybody blacked up for entertainment purposes. So whether you put a blacked-up white man in a tatter coat, a suit and tie or a spacesuit, those minstrel associations will still be there. The only people for whom this won't be the case are people who have seen more blacked-up Border Morris than they have blacked-up minstrels - and I venture to suggest that there aren't very many of those, outside the ranks of the BM dancers themselves.

I just don't see a problem with not using black.

Other colours do not disguise white/pink people.

Oh really? Disguise in blue

and
dese guise are in white.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: banksie
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 05:20 AM

As the Captain observes:
"having said all that as a white person,who has only suffered a tiny amount of racial abuse,it is difficult for me to know, how it must feel to be a black person who has suffered racial abuse,and how the majority of black people,feel about Blacking/Browning up".

Having asked a (statistically insignificant) sample of two black friends their view on this, both stated similar views, paraphrased as follows: "that's the way you do it and I am not insulted. I think Morris dancing is silly, but that's different." And as a dancer (Cotswold, so not blacked up) I have danced in town centres, with blacked-up border sides, where Afro-Carribeans and Asians have been in the audience and been seen to applaud the dancing - appreciating it in its own right as something (silly) people do in these islands.

I know of no sociological study made of UK-domiciled Afro-Caribean or Asian communities' attitudes to blacking up in Border Morris, but would love to hear of any results and research methodologies.

And as someone else observed at the beginning of this thread - if the British can't respect their own traditions how can they respect the traditions of others - and I do sense a danger of building perceptions of the perceptions of others, seeing insult where no insult is taken, let alone intentionally given. I, for one, think the young men who run in front of the bulls in Pamplona are not just silly, they're barking mad. But I appreciate the fact that it is important to them both as a tradition in its own right and for what that tradition represents - achieving a state of barking madness as far as I can see. But I am not them or of them so it is unfair for me to judge them in their country and their traditions by my value set.

The ultimate result an over-indulgence in politcal correctness is that nobody will dare do anything for fear of offending someone. That will result in everyone sitting at home, never daring to do anything except watch Sky Television (for fear of offending Rupert Murdoch because he hates the BBC). And if people think that PC will help us defend against the odious BNP I can't help but feel it is exactly the application of `Enhanced-PC With Added Puritanism' that will drive more and more people into their arms. The BNP needs to be laughed at - loudly and longly.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 06:50 AM

if the British can't respect their own traditions how can they respect the traditions of others

Is there any tradition in Morris dancing these days?

Quick quiz:

1. How long's this been going on?

a) What do you mean, how long? People have always done this here.
b) Ages. I don't know, really. The Secretary might be able to tell you.
c) Two or three years solidly, nine or ten off and on. Depends when people are available.
d) People have always done this, but if you mean this specific group, seven years and five months as of next Monday.

2. Will you be doing it next year?

a) Of course. Somebody has to.
b) I certainly hope so. It's good to put on a bit of a show.
c) I hope so, but as I say it depends on people's availability.
d) Why yes, the practice will go on and on, as it always has. As to this specific group, well, fingers crossed.

3. Can you put on a quick show for us next Pancake Day?

a) What do you mean? I don't think we could do that.
b) Not sure, I'll have to run it past the Committee.
c) Yeah, why not. I'll give you my number.
d) I think Pancake Day is a fine example of the old English high days and holidays which would traditionally be graced by our practice, so yes, why not. I'll give you my number.

4. Why do you do it?

a) [silence, puzzled expression]
b) Well, it's good to keep a thing like this going, isn't it? And it makes a nice show. The kids love it.
c) It's a bit of a laugh really.
d) We are honoured to maintain the unbroken tradition of our practice, and we go to the pub afterwards.

If you answered

a) it's a Tradition
b) it's Folk Art (cf. Rose Queens, fluffy Morris, Preston Guild, etc)
c) it's a Hobby
d) it's a Revival

I think there's an awful lot of Hobby music & dance out there now - from a variety of different cultures - and a fair bit of Folk Art. I don't think there's very much Tradition.

(As for Revivalists, the problem with them is that they tend to think they're Traditionalists, although really they've got more in common with Hobbyists and Folk Artists.)


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 07:10 AM

b) it's Folk Art (cf. Rose Queens, fluffy Morris, Preston Guild, etc)

I disagree there. Fluffy Morris is a genuine Tradition in that it occupys Level 1 in Warshaver's 3 Levels of Folklore, which is to say customary practise principally defined by the participants remaining innocent of the folkloric significance or even provenance of what they're doing. Fluffy Morris isn't done in the name of folk, but emerges out of several cultural traditions of dance in the the North West, including actual Processional Morris, and Irish Stepdancing. I think the websites have their own folklore too, as might be observed by following some of the links at the North of England Morris Dancing Carnival Organisation.

In this sense Fluffy is the only Living Traditional Morris Dancing we have. The day it dies is when the dances are taken up by the members of the Morris Ring & EFDSS.

Discuss.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 07:17 AM

In NW Morris perhaps but isn't Bampton's traditiom pretty much unbroken for longer than Carnival Morris has been about? Other Cotswold sides have been dancing quite a long time if you trace continuity through family lines and family lines are quite important in passing on traditions.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 07:39 AM

In NW Morris perhaps but isn't Bampton's traditiom pretty much unbroken for longer than Carnival Morris has been about?

Would Bampton have survived if it wasn't for interest from the revival in 1906? By all accounts it was on its last legs. To what extent does the expectations of The Revival define Bampton thereafter? It's a fascinating history all the same. Read all about it at http://www.bamptonmorris.co.uk/.

The thing about Fluffy Morris is that it has nothing to do with The Folk Revival in any shape or form but remains a living, breathing tradition, no matter how old it might be. I might add I didn't even know it existed until moving to the North West a couple of years ago and even now view from a respectful distance, if at all. Maybe one day someone will do the definitive history; maybe they already have.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 09:00 AM

Question:

How old does something have to be to be "traditional"?

a) As old as my mum
b) As old as her mum
c) If I don't like it, then it will never be old enough
d) I don't care, I do it for fun.

All answers correct.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Old Vermin
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 09:35 AM

Who was it said that the good man is not the same as the good citizen?

It strikes me that this thread is about the theoretical. It is a about the possibility, the hypothesis, that someone might be upset by seeing a Border Morris side in blackface [or indeed without - Ed]. Not about any such upset being in fact known to be caused, but about a purported possibility.

Yes, it can upset people how think that they know better, and believe, because they know better and have superior sensibilities, that upset may, in theory, be caused to someone else.

In one way it doesn't really matter whether it has been done since Adam was a lad or was cobble together last Thursday evening. The questions is whether it is overall a good thing, and whether any genuine rather than hypothetical offence is caused.

How about applying a reality check?

In fact, I have, from memory, seen people who were visibly of African or maybe Caribbean ancestry enjoying doing Morris and English ceilidh at Sidmouth and Swanage. The best bit was grins and good dancing from a young and rather pretty woman, who as the only black in a Border side hadn't felt the need to disguise her very pleasant face. A very good natured occasion.

At Swanage another year. A very memorable cluster of turbanned Sikh gentlemen and their families, very well turned out, enjoying and, OK, laughing hilariously at, a parade which had a mix from Border Morris to belly-dancing via Cotswold. A very pleasant memory.

This is factual, primary source. I was there, saw it in Southern England, it was good. People were happy.

In my experience, it's good stuff, people enjoy doing and watching it. No evidence of anyone being seriously upset.

Not to say that there isn't the occasional funny look,though. Cotswold seems to suffer worse from funny looks,but maybe that's me being over-sensitive.

I trust this reality much more than the neurotic hypothesising above.

And its raining, or I should be getting the car packed!


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Smokey.
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 05:29 PM

Well said, OV.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 04:57 AM

How about applying a reality check?

Morris Dancing and Reality? No - Morris belongs to the liminal realm of cultural reaction which is part and parcel of England's most perverse and singular Dreaming. Of course that's traditional too; a festering continuance by way of a far from Innocent Nostalgia. Sad. Very sad.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: akenaton
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 05:33 AM

Well although there is no morris in Scotland and I have never seen it performed live, I have come to enjoy watching Morris Dancing on video very much.
I love the enthusiasm of the dancers, the interest of the audiance, the "spiritual" element in the performance...it all reminds me of the wonderful atmosphere surrounding Irish street music.

I think it should be enjoyed for what it is and what it generates in the onlookers.....don't allow it to be destroyed by some political fad!

I have a video of June Tabor singing accompanyment to a dance group on a dimmly lit stage somewhere in England...it is riveting...Ake


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 05:45 AM

".....don't allow it to be destroyed by some political fad!"

I don't think anyone suggested destroying Morris, just that a little sensitivity could be used around the colour of the make up used by "Border" sides.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: banksie
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 06:00 AM

>Morris Dancing and Reality?

Wrong connection. The reality check is not about morris dancing, but about people's reaction to it, and in particular the people who are presumed to be insulted and affronted by dancers blacking up. I have yet to see any person of any colour insulted by it. In fact I have seen many white English people at least embarrassed by morris dancing, as they seem to assume they are tainted by it by association.

I do have a memory of seeing one of those anthropological TV programmes of Africans dancing `whited up'. I seem to remember that the white dancers represented devils or evil spirits (probably quite fitting, really). But should they stop doing it for fear I might be insulted? PC logic would suggest `yes'.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Howard Jones
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 06:15 AM

Pip Radish said "the minstrel tradition is the only context in which most people in this country have seen anybody blacked up for entertainment purposes."

I haven't seen anybody blacked up as a minstrel since the Black & White Minstrels came off TV in the 1970s. The only context in which most people in this country have seen anybody blacked up for entertainment purposes is morris.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 06:47 AM

The only context in which most people in this country have seen anybody blacked up for entertainment purposes is morris.

Most people in this country haven't seen Border morris! I think the image of minstrel-style blacking up has long outlived its actual practice.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 07:05 AM

Reality check #2: The Black & Minstrel Show notwithstanding, more people would have the Jeeves & Wooster black-faced ukulele minstrel episode and subsequent repeats - (filmed at Sidmouth?) than have ever seen, or are likely to see, Border Morris. Al Jolson died before Border Morris was revived, yet he remains a far greater cultural icon than Morris Dancing.

Reality Check #3: Likening Morris Dancing to Tribal Culture is as fatuous and conceited as claiming no Black person has ever been offended by Border Black-Face. Bullshit. Go and dance it in Handsworth and see what sort reaction you get, or in Clapham High Street; or why not field a Border Black-face side in the Nottinghill Carnival?

I know of plenty of Black people who are deeply offended by blacked-up white Morris Dancers, and have told me so.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Morris-ey
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 09:20 AM

I don't like it, so you shoudn't do it;

I know more black people who don't like it than you know black people who don't give a damn, so you shoudn't do it.

I suspect for Sweeny only the first statement is really important...


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 09:53 AM

I don't like it, so you shoudn't do it;

Not true actually. Aesthetically, and instinctively, I find it quite appealing, as I have done since seeing the picture of a blacked-up John Kirkpatrick in his Bedlam garb that appears on page 223 of the 1982 paperback edition of Janet and Colin Bord's Earth Rites. I love Morris Dancing, Mumming, Ritual Garb, Masks, Guising and related Misrule, Mayhem, Merriment and all Manner of Folkoric Fiddle-Faddle Stuff, and I might even allow for non-racist reasons (even traditional ones) for blacked-up Morris Dancing (etc.) as I'm sure were touched upon on the Folklore: Blacking up for morris - origin? thread.

However...

See my posts above.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: banksie
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 11:49 AM

> Morris Dancing to Tribal Culture is as fatuous and conceited as claiming no Black person has ever been offended by Border Black-Face. Bullshit.

So why isn't morris dancing as much a component of a tribal culture as any other activity by another group of people might be considered as specific evidence of a tribal culture?

And I don't recall anyone claiming `no black person' has been offended. No such blanket coverage of any racial group has been suggested. All that has been said is that there is anecdotal evidence of black people witnessing morris dancing and give every impression of enjoying it as street theatre, tribal expression or just an outburst of mild English lunacy. I have never witnessed any black person being offended or insulted, though my (and other) `survey samples' are by deinition both small and based on observation. They are not claimed as scientific.

You say you know of plenty of black people who are offended, I accept the statement as it stands, but (just as an observation) you don't specify under what circumstances that insult has been taken or in what form it was expressed. Have they been in the street when a side has been dancing or just seen pictures of dancers out of context? Have they talked to dancers or just responded to questions that might possibly suggest they should be offended (for example: `are you offended by this?' rather than `what is your feeling upon seeing this?').


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Banjiman
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 12:03 PM

From some considerable way up the thread Ruth Archer said:

'Finally, a few people have said that it would be interesting to hear from a black person what they feel about all of this. Well, the article from EDS that I quoted earlier interviewed several people about the practice, including a dance caller named Nigel Hogg. This is what he had to say:

"I have watched many different dance groups around the country, and on certain occasions I have seen groups black up to perform. As a mixed race man I do find this tradition offensive because I see it as a parody mocking people of colour. I would imagine that the people who perform these dances are not racists, and on some levels the people involved have not even though about the implications these dances might have to people of colour." '


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 12:41 PM

on some levels the people involved have not even though about the implications these dances might have to people of colour

I like "on some levels".


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 02:11 PM

The only people for whom this won't be the case are people who have seen more blacked-up Border Morris than they have blacked-up minstrels - and I venture to suggest that there aren't very many of those, outside the ranks of the BM dancers themselves.

I know I've seen far more blacked up Morris Dancers than I have ever seen blacked-up Minstrel, and suspect that is true for most people who ever get to see them dance, which would generally be in the context of folk festivals and such. And in that conbtext the notion that they are somehow presenting a mocking stereotype of how black people are supposed to be is pretty ridiculous.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 02:22 PM

suspect that is true for most people who ever get to see them dance, which would generally be in the context of folk festivals and such

Yes, but this entire discussion is about how blackface Morris looks to people outside the circle of Morris aficionados and folkies.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 02:49 PM

Not so much how it looks but how it sounds as if it might look, surely. Which is the point I made in a post way back up the thrad:

"I would suspect that it's the idea and not the reality that's the problem. Say 'black make up' and the image people have is of performers dressed up and behaving in a way that parodies black people. Which in this case could well be the image likely to be conveyed by children to their parents, which teh school was worried about.

The reality of blackface, whether Border Morris style or Rochester sweeps, is very different, and I very much doubt if many people coming across it in its natural habitat, the street, ever see this as being anything to do with parodying black people."


Context is important here - and dancing in the street is different from performing in a school. Motley Morris would have done well to take note of that, and pick a different colour for the occasion to avoid misunderstandings from parents who had not seen the dance when kids went home and talked about it.


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Subject: RE: Motley Morris banned !
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 03:25 PM

So why isn't morris dancing as much a component of a tribal culture as any other activity by another group of people might be considered as specific evidence of a tribal culture?

WTF????


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