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Calling time on Blackface Morris

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DMcG 04 Jul 20 - 03:12 AM
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Subject: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: DMcG
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 03:12 AM

There a list of threads on blackface Morris already, but none seemed quite right for this, so sorry for starting a new one.

Morris Federation writes to all morris sides asking for full blackface morris to end

The 'full' aspect arises because some sides have a half-and-half style, for example.

For quite a long time I was ambivalent about this. I certainly agreed with those sides who switched to blue face or green face. On the other hand I had thought the guising tradition needed to be understood as distinct from racism. It still does, but I now think the Morris Federation - and EFDSS - are right it is time to move on.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 03:53 AM

Well, they have got the wording wrong as it immediately discriminates against anyone using skin coloured makeup, that includes most women that I know!

Robin


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: DMcG
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 04:36 AM

That is a good point: I think you should come up with a suggested form of words and send it to their email. We should not put mixed or all-women sides at a disadvantage by this.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 05:02 AM

This initiative is from all three morris organisations - Morris Ring, Morris Federation and Open Morris.
Derek


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 05:16 AM

So political correctness wins over many years of tradition. who are these people who complain ?


Dave H


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 05:18 AM

and shame on The Morris Federation for giving in.


Dave H


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Senoufou
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 05:56 AM

As an ardent enthusiast for Border Morris, and the wife of a (very!) black man, this enrages me, it really does.
As we on here all know, there is absolutely NO connection between blackface Morris and black people. It's an old tradition of disguise, and nobody has the right to ban it on 'racist' grounds.
Who are these black people who have stridently objected?
As you know, my husband adores Morris, and at Sheringham has many times been invited to dance with Border sides. He's had dozens of photos taken, and sometimes the dancers 'apologise' to him in case he's upset by their black faces. Of course he isn't, and he folds up laughing.
He always says, in his broken English, that if he joined their side, he wouldn't need any make-up as he's ready-prepared.
I'm very upset by this dismantling and attack on our old traditions.
There's actually a risk that it will incite racism against black objectors, and cause dissent and anger between us.
My husband is sitting beside me and is very angry too. "Not in my name!"


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: JHW
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 06:25 AM

Perhaps all teams should be obliged to dance/perform in plain clothes not costume.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Jos
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 06:42 AM

Should fake tans be banned as well?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 07:17 AM

What should be banned, is virtue signalling.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 07:25 AM

Is this why Donald Trump does not do Morris?

I'm not thinking up a suitable wording as I don't think it can be done.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Captain Swing
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 08:22 AM

Seems a perfectly reasonable policy to me - just use a different colour or a mask. Leaves room for a lot more vibrance and imagination. It's a pity that the term 'politically correct' has become a pejorative in the same way that 'health and safety' has. Both PC and H&S are designed to enable discourse, activity and cooperation not to stymie it. Unfortunately both have become mired in derisive myth cultivated by those averse to change and compromise.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Exile
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 08:23 AM

whenever did rational, historically informed argument influence a mob?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 08:27 AM

As written at the moment it opens up a minefield of possible legal actions and different interpretations.

Not fit for purpose, whether you approve of the purpose or not.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: treewind
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 08:55 AM

Senoufou, I hope you and your husband have seen Old Glory Molly from the Waveney Valley - uncompromisingly black face and the women musicians dressed from head to foot in black. And if you've not seen them, you really should. They only dance in winter, so with a bit of luck they will be allowed out and about for the next season.

Anahata (unfortunately living too far away to dance with them now)


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Howard Jones
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 10:03 AM

Could we see yet another break-away morris movement forming out of this?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 10:12 AM

"Could we see yet another break-away morris movement forming out of this?"

I should jollywell hope so, the existing morris movements are clearly run by bigotted fools. When I was a musician for a morris side back in the 80s, found the morris ring to have been run by absolute prats.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe G
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 10:32 AM

Not before time- I was ambivalent about black face a few years ago and had some interesting arguments with people who convinced me that it was totally inappropriate. Recent events have only served to confirm that and I am glad I was persuaded to see sense on this issue - such a shame that so many on here do not.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Captain Swing
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 10:41 AM

'legal action', 'bigotted fools' , 'breakaway morris'- Crikey, the degree vexation must be an indicator of the amount of time we have on our hands at the moment! Sounds like a plot from Midsommer Murders ...... well apart from the black faces!


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Raedwulf
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 11:02 AM

Half-sensible, half-PC crap. Full disclosure - I am not a Morrisman & have no real interest in it. But I loathe inequality, discrimination & "Me-me-me-ism" equally.

If people want to be offended & hurt, they will be. It really doesn't matter what the subject matter or the particular instance is. If someone decides to be offended, they will be and there's fuck all you can do about it.

Equality is a two (at least) edged blade & so is tolerance. I must kow-tow to your offendedness whilst you trample over my traditions is neither equal nor tolerant, but it seems to be what is expected these days. "Don't argue back! I am a victim and only I get to define the crime!!" seems to be the modus operandi these days, and it's frightening. Don't stick your head above the parapet, unless you're willing to be a target, keep your mouth shut because you will only be shouted down by the mob. What price supposedly free speech? You can say what you want, but only so long as the mob allows you to. Which is only so long as you agree with the mob.

Let's be clear about blackface. There are two different "blackfaces"; one can easily label them American & British. Older 'catters will most certainly remember the BBC's Black & White Minstrel Show. That's the US happy-clappy slave massah blackface. It's rightly unacceptable these days, because it is racist mockery. But what about UK blackface?

The etymology of "Morris" is uncertain, but the most popular / likely explanation is that is a corruption of "Moorish", that the dance tradition arose from imitation of exotic dancers. To what extant the Moors (who, in European terms, were the Muslims who controlled much of Spain, as well as Malta & Sicily during parts of the Middle Ages) were actually black rather than Arabic is moot, but the most famous Moor is probably Shakespeare's Othello, who has always been portrayed as black. Equally, there is a case to be made that the exotic dancers who inspired Morris were not exclusively Moors, or perhaps even at all. The Gypsies, who came out of India, also made what living they could from dancing, music, and entertainment, for example.

But the key words here are "inspire" & "imitate". Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so the saying goes. Morris attracts much mockery, much of it unkind, but I have never noticed any mockery IN Morris. I doubt that many Morrismen who have ever blacked up have really understood why or, indeed, thought about black people. It's just something you do because it's traditional. But ultimately, I believe, it's inspired by, an imitation of - tribute, not mockery.

Try telling that to the BLM people. I hope BLM achieves something useful; I am cynical enough to doubt that it will, but there's always the hope. What concerns me about this is not whether blackface Morris continues or not. For some reason, I have the notion that there are only 3 Morris sides that still perform blackface anyway. Most have been compelled to give up the tradition because councils will not allow them to perform if they continue.

My concern at the moment is the constant attacks on freedom of speech & expression. If I do not follow the mob, I will be attacked for it. I have been told that as a white male, I am not allowed to have an opinion on... The irony being that those telling me think they are fighting for equality and cannot see that they are being racist & sexist. I am concerned not only at the lack of understanding of ages past, but at the lack of interest in understanding. Not only ages past, but others' views now. I am concerned that only those that consider themselves victims of an -ism (or their sympathisers), whatever the -ism, are allowed to define what that -ism is, or whether something was / is an example of -ism. Do not dare to talk back or you will also be labelled an -ismist, no matter what your concerns are.

This, supposedly, is the most tolerant epoch in human history. I know a good deal of history; perhaps that is true. But it is frightening that those who claim to be fighting for tolerance cannot see, will not see, do not want to see how intolerant they are. Do Not Speak Against Us For We Are The Mob! Can't You See Our Pitchforks And Torches? :/


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 11:08 AM

+1 Raedwulf.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 11:09 AM

This compromise
has been proposed in order to placate the strong feelings
of those older traditionalists outraged by what they consider
to be the dictate of 'PC gone mad'...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 11:19 AM

Who will speak up on the behalf of the green man, the wicker man, or the straw man?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Raedwulf
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 11:30 AM

Both PC and H&S are designed to enable discourse, activity and cooperation not to stymie it. Captain Swing - I am sorry, sir, but those words make you 'of the mob'.

PC (not H&S so much, rarely so) is just as easily used to shut down debate, discourse, and cooperation. Disagree with me and I will call you an Ist. Convince the rest of us that that is never true or, at least, so rarely true that it can safely be ignored. Unfortunately, your words so far here leave me thinking that you are one of those that can't, don't, or won't recognise that this can even happen...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Mo the caller
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 11:55 AM

I think it's the right time for this move.
Yes some people wore black face thinking it was 'tradition', 'disguise' etc. And had no intention of offending anyone.
But have you ever watched the Baccup Coconut Dancers?

Many teams have changed their paint, either colours or patterns. The discussion has gone on and now what everyone knew had to happen has been made official. Similar to the timing of the ruling about letting in women. Too soon and it is a shock, but dancers have had time to get used to it.

PC or simply good manners.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe G
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 11:56 AM

You do realise how funny that sounds don't you?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe G
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 11:58 AM

As I said earlier I was ambivalent about the issue until a few years ago (and at one point defended it) but was then persuaded that it was inappropriate - so rather than being a bigot I had my views changed by strong and well reasoned argument.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe G
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 12:00 PM

My comments were obviously directed towards Raedwulf not Mo!


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 12:05 PM

Do you all realise that the biggest growth industry in this 21st century, is that of being offended. No matter what you do, it will surely offend someone, let's all take offence at each other, and make it circular !


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Captain Swing
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 12:19 PM

PC is not about opinions Raedwulf, it's about establishing protocols for discourse that are respectful and equitable. It's also about weeding out anachronistic language where it is unhelpful.

You'll have to explain what you mean by 'the mob' if you are suggesting I'm part of it.

People who use techniques to shut down debate usually have no solid arguments, or realise their arguments don't stand up. I've encountered that on many occasions and their techniques are many and varied. The PC Card is one that is used on both sides of the debate. It was used early in this thread which is why I challenged it.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe G
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 12:24 PM

Well said Cap'n


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 12:26 PM

Raedwulf makes a good case,
with which I mostly agree in principle, on a purely intellectual level..

..but I am a pragmatist..

The reality is we live in a diverse modern society,
where urban cultural perspectives
tend to dominate mainstream discourse..

Olde worlde rural backwaters, have to like it or lump it...

It is fact that British N@tionalists will, and are rallying around the symbol of 'blackface morris',
and that is plenty good enough reason to take it out of circulation.
To deprive the far right of it's value as ammunition for their pernicious provocative cause...

We can already see clear enough evidence of their influence,
here in responses to this thread...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 12:46 PM

I don't think any of the organisations mentioned are in a position to "ban" anything. Just to ask their members not to do this. Unless there is actually a law prohibiting it I suggest that we talk about suggestions rather than bans.

I used to black up for a pace-egg play but became uncomfortable with it so I stopped. I don't have anything against other people doing it if they want. I can see nothing wrong with using other colours. Except for the Brittania 'nutters. I cannot see them in any colour but black!

Out of interest, when looking at old B&W photos of Morris teams I wondered what colours they really used :-) But that is just my lateral brain.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 12:48 PM

Far too much 'righteous' indignation here. You use the word 'tradition' very sloppily. Any tradition worth its salt should be capable of change. If not it becomes a moribund museum piece. Do not touch!!

If it is seen by a significant proportion of society as offensive in some way, and is easily avoided, then where's the problem? Black face has many influences and origins. Performers were blacking up and imitating black people in Europe long before the American Minstrel craze started. And the George Mitchell singers were nearly all British, and that was rightly taken from our view. Some of the morris quite likely goes back to Moorish influence and some more recent traditions are definitely influenced by Minstrelsy (Bacup, East Riding ploughboys. The disguise element is also there so it's basically a mishmash. if we plead disguise as the only excuse then any colour will do. Personally I quite like the idea of multicolour.

from a morris/sword dancer of many years standing.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe G
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 12:51 PM

Agreed Steve - the Pride colours would be good though a bit tricky to apply :-)


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Senoufou
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 12:51 PM

treewind, we've seen Old Glory loads of times, and my husband has sat next to two of them for a chat (This was at Sheringham Potty Festival)
He made them laugh, with his "I'm even blacker than you!" spiel. He did find their 'Fool' sinister, as he kept moving in front of the spectators and staring fixedly at people. But being African, husband found this to be like 'sorcery'.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Senoufou
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 12:57 PM

And I showed the Britannia Coconut dancers to him on Youtube ages ago. He thought it was clever the way they clicked the coconuts together and had nothing to say about their appearance. He actually wished he could see them in real life, but we haven't yet.
He honestly is a true fan of Border Morris. His favourite side is the Witchmen. He first saw them at Straw Bear and was blown away.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe G
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 01:01 PM

That's fine but your husband isn't every black person. He may not object but many may see morris without knowing what it is and be alienated or feel insulted by it. You can't suggest that just because he doesn't mind that that would be the opinion of all people of colour


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 01:03 PM

Sen - does your husband ever get much opportunity to speak about his sense of BAME identity,
to British black people
from other areas of our nation, and from other walks of life...???

It's an obvious question to ask,
regarding a positive necessity for him...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Snuffy
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 01:28 PM

Reading the statement issued by the Joint Morris Organisations, it would appear to me that the impetus for this came from the insurers rather than from within the Morris movement:

1.There is nothing in the statement banning black face paint: what is banned is FULL-FACE painting - of ANY COLOUR, not just black.

2. Sides painting the full face in any colour will not be covered by the insurance policy.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 01:39 PM

Thanks Snuffy.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Senoufou
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 01:42 PM

My husband isn't 'every black person' it's true. Which is why nobody can speak for 'every black person'. Let them speak for themselves about Morris.
And yes, he speaks to other black people at his African men's hairdresser's in Norwich. Africans from many countries congregate there and chat while waiting for their hair to be done. They all find Norfolk to be reasonably free from racism and prejudice.
He also goes alone down to London to renew his Ivorian passport, and has always found people very pleasant and polite to him on the journey and while there.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 02:05 PM

I have seen the Bacup Nutters dance many times and live in their area.

The disguise works as it should as I have never recognised any of them when in civies!

I have never seen any inappropriate behaviour from them. I have only heard complaints from people who have never seen them.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Jos
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 02:17 PM

I would be interested to know what uninsurable risk the insurers see in full face painting.
Could they be making a connection with football fans wo paint their faces in their favourite football team's colours?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 02:51 PM

It could be the usual insurance company ploy of trying to get out of paying anything at all!


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 03:17 PM

I've said it before, I'll say it again..

When the knee jerk reaction is to blame PC gone mad woke SJW's
for some old favourite activity being banned;

THE REAL CULPRIT is usually insurance corporations,
and cowardly bureaucrats pre-empting the remote theoretical possibility
of a statistically one in a million predicted legal claim against them...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: DMcG
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 05:10 PM

the statement says "that calls on all three organisations to eliminate the use of full-face black or skin tone makeup. Your committee fully supports this call."

That's not ANY colours, Snuffy. Full face blue and green would be fine, as far as I can see. I think it is an attempt to deal with blackface and at the same time cover Indian, Chinese etc etc.   I take the earlier point that if a dancer is black or Asian and wants to use the sort of make up they use every day then that should not be prohibited.

It is not a law, it is the membership rule of an organisation. So I don't see any real grounds for a legal challenge, unless you choose to make the case that being prohibited from blacking up infringes a legal right, and that sounds a tough legal case to make.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 05:24 PM

I think this is more a case of certain white people being "offended" on behalf of black folks, who most of the time are not offended at all!!!!


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: G-Force
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 05:37 PM

Blue face would offend Smurfs. Green face would upset Martians and the hung-over.

Sides with a 'Betsy' would offend the trans community. Sides with a fool would ... oh, never mind.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe G
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 05:46 PM

Bonzo - how, exactly, do you know that?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Jos
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 06:01 PM

DMcG - Is "black or skin tone makeup" the exact wording used? If so, it does seem rather confusing.
Does it mean that "black" is not a skin tone?
Does it mean that people cannot even use makeup the colour (tone) of their own skin?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Captain Swing
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 06:16 PM

Well said Joe. To my mind, this has been an open and interesting discussion - no personal remarks or insults but robust challenge on both sides.

One of the points that gets missed is the notion of trust. If people feel threatened they are more likely to feel offended or act defensively. It's clear, certainly in the US, that many many black people (with good reason) do not trust the authorities and particularly the police. I think that the situation in the UK is better but still has a long way to go. The small considerations, such as the topic of this thread, that we can show can help to rectify the deficit of trust.

Bonzo, you suggest that most black folks will not be offended at all. Sure, there will be many black people who are extremely secure in their environment and trusting of the white people they encounter. In those cases there will often be banter on both sides as Senoufu describes. No one will be offended because the trust is there. Would that were the case universally.

As a white, heterosexual, English man I've never suffered prejudice. However, a friend of mine, a white, heterosexual man suffered considerable prejudice over the years at work ...... because he was Irish.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 06:32 PM

Lots of Border Morris sides are doing imaginative and spectacular things with alternative face paint designs or masks. Who would choose to die in a ditch for blackface?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe G
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 06:37 PM

Absolutely Brian - having some respect for other's sensitivities costs absolutely nothing. It's not like demanding teams do not dance - just use a different colour - if disguise is the intent (as so many people state in defence) that works equally well!


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 06:54 PM

Well here's a few thoughts. First, "This goes back centuries, it's tradition, therefore leave us alone."

Tradition dictated that young lads who stole a sheep could be hanged. Tradition dictated that women suspected of being witches could be ducked until they drowned. Tradition dictated that chaps accused of treason could be strung up on the gallows and their guts cut out and spread on the ground before they were dead. Tradition is a wonderful thing...

Second, "I know this black chap who doesn't object..."

If you say this, or even think this, you are the worst kind of racist. You really do need to have a good think.

Third, don't be so pig-headed. If you claim that the blacking up was to do with hiding your face from your boss, then you must accept that any other bloody colour will also do the job. 99 per cent of people who see your dance wouldn't give a damn if you used pink instead. Therein lies another potential piece of....

The resort to "tradition" has made this world a much worse place. Billions of people are repressed by their religion via "tradition." You are supposed to be folkies, ladies and gents who are of the people. Well just try to be of ALL the people, not just of us palefaces...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Captain Swing
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 07:25 PM

Could do with a 'Like' or 'Agree' button here Steve. Well said.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 07:39 PM

Sorry, I did go a bit off on one there. But I really do feel that there's something horribly hypocritical about people who refuse to move on whilst clinging to "tradition" no matter what. We live in a western world that has made at least some progress in confronting racism, misogyny and homophobia, always recognising that we still have a long way to go. The point about blacking up is that you don't have to do it and that it would cause an absolute minimum of inconvenience if you ditched it. So, if you arrogantly wish to cling to it, pause for a minute and just ask yourself why....


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe G
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 08:08 PM

Absolutely spot on Steve! Unfortunately there is a reactionary element to the folk scene who think tradition is everything and will not move on to embrace our more enlightened and progressive times - whether it be in musical interpretation or shaking off racist and other discriminatory behaviours

Just change the face colouring - its not that hard really..and I will find and kill the next person who says that blue face colour is discriminatory against Smurfs ;-)


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: RTim
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 09:58 PM

The problem is they can only equate "Disguise" as Black Face!
Many teams have come to the correct conclusion in this modern age that there are other means of Disguise that will not upset portions of society.
I would calculate that at most there are less than 200 or 300 Border Morris dancers who stick to this unnecessary practice....and Why is Disguise even needed today???

All for the want of a different Disguise!!

Tim Radford (who really is fed up with making the same point for years!)


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 04 Jul 20 - 10:36 PM

People make traditions and laws - People can change traditions and laws..

Traditions and Laws are not handed down and set forever by almighty Gods...

.. and for the religious oddballs amongst us,
I'd seriously question the credibility of a god
who insisted on worshippers blacking themselves up...!!!???



Also - following up Steve's point..

If you look on far right n@tionalist chat sites *..

It's amazing how many of the posters all deny they are the slightest bit racist,
and have even a convenient 'black mate'
who isn't offended
and agrees whole-heartily with every word they spout of white nationalist rhetoric...???


[* which I'm certain some of you do.. probably on a daily basis...]


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: DMcG
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 02:00 AM

DMcG - Is "black or skin tone makeup" the exact wording used? If so, it does seem rather confusing.
Does it mean that "black" is not a skin tone?


It is the exact wording. I put the link to the statement in my opening post so people can read the whole thing.

Personally, I don't find that confusing at all. Again, we are not talking about a legal text, hammered through Parliament and review committees to ensure that it is absolutely clear. Even actual laws can't do that, or we would have fewer lawyers and judicial interpretations of laws. What we are talking about is a number of organisations, aware of the BLM issues, and asking what, if anything, they should do about it. To me, that doesn't even hinge on whether anyone is offended or not: it is simply asking is this a tradition we should cling to, given there are other alternatives?

As for whether black is a skin tone: that seems a diversion. I think that choice of words is, as I said, to discourage a side deciding to adopt Holywood's idea of American Indians, or suchlike.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 02:03 AM

Most Border and Molly sides aren't that traditional anyway. Most perform dances that are recently created, dance to recently composed tunes played by large bands of instruments that were not used traditionally. If they are willing to break with tradition in those aspects then why not in regards to facial decoration?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: theleveller
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 03:23 AM

Black lives matter. Blackface morris doesn't.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Cj
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 04:08 AM

leveller, agreed.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 05:01 AM

Steve Shaw Date: 04 Jul 20 - 06:54 PM - The best post on this thread. Completely correct on every point.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 05:34 AM

"Tradition dictated that young lads who stole a sheep could be hanged. Tradition dictated that women suspected of being witches could be ducked until they drowned. Tradition dictated that chaps accused of treason could be strung up on the gallows and their guts cut out and spread on the ground before they were dead. Tradition is a wonderful thing..."

Sorry but "Tradition" had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any of the above:

1. The sheep stealer, way back in the day, was breaking the law [If you stole a sheep today you still would be breaking the law], his crime of robbery affected the lives of not only the owner of the sheep and his family, but the lives of a number of other families in times when life was a great deal more fragile than it is now - hence the severity of the punishment.

Historical Note: Lots of crimes carried the death penalty, court records show that roughly only one in ten were ever carried out. Sentences were commuted to Hard Labour for life or Transportation for life.

2. Witchcraft was viewed by the Church as being punishable by death. Counter to what many believe no witches were burned at the stake in England, that fate was reserved for the religious crime of heracy, witches in England were tried for and punished in accordance with the crimes they committed - but again it was LAW not Tradition.

3. Treason/Sedition along with Murder has always been viewed as the most serious of crimes and as such carried with them the harshest sentences. Last group of people sentenced to the end described were a group of weavers from Larkhall in Scotland in the 1830s - they were to be publicly executed on Glasgow Green and in Stirling to serve as an example - They were hanged by the neck until dead because the authorities could not find anyone who was prepared to carry-out the rest of the sentence. Nothing to do with Tradition.

As to "blacking up" to serve as a disguise? Very effective, special forces soldiers throughout the world of all races, creeds and hues do so and are taught to do so for that very good reason. As for using any other colour back in the past? Well that might have proved difficult and counter-productive, having said that I dare say that it might have been done, but it would have been nowhere near as effective and besides soot from a fireplace would always have been ready to hand whereas colouring your face with clay or earth would indicate very clearly to any local where you came from in a district or in an area as small as a parish. Go for other means of colouring up and that would have involved some sort of expense which rather defeats the object if the reason you "blacked up" in the first place was to beg or "guise" for money.

Always found that long standing "traditions" centre around the history and cultures of the indigenous population so it should come as no surprise to anybody that the older traditions of the British Isles and indeed of Europe are rather "white". The world does change and newer "traditions" are adopted the one that immediately springs to mind here in the UK in my lifetime is the Nottinghill Carnival, which is now - Yep ya got it, it's a tradition.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 05:54 AM

It wasn't black people being offended that prompted this decision. It was white nationalists using blackface morris as a symbol of their shitty ideology. The intangible cultural heritage version of "statue defending". The morris organizations couldn't possibly want to be associated with violent fascist thuggery like that, and fair play to them for responding quickly and decisively.

I see the hacked "Dave Hanson" account is posting again. Block it please, mods.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Billy Suggers
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 06:01 AM

I never supported the move to blackface.
There was nowt wrong with woad


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: DMcG
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 06:08 AM

Exactly, Jack C.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 06:35 AM

I can't help noting the arguments used here in defense of blackface are eerily similar to the ones used in defence of the 'Zwarte Piet' (Black Pete) figure in the Netherlands. A tradition that for all its denial has a clear and obvious racist element.

Over there the defence has become entrenched, 'our culture' and all that. There's no reason why these traditions shouldn't adapt and change with the times, no excuse for rabidly clinging to it.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 07:07 AM

Stop jumping the gun Jack Campin, all on here under my name has been posted by ME get it Jack ?

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Howard Jones
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 08:39 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 09:04 AM

I don't see any bullying, Howard. Nobody has passed a law. Representative organisations can follow their own paths as can individual morris sides. It's certainly a complex issue, and if I was still dancing I wouldn't want to spend my afternoon explaining why I was wearing blackface to everybody who asked.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 09:07 AM

"The point about blacking up is that you don't have to do it and that it would cause an absolute minimum of inconvenience if you ditched it. So, if you arrogantly wish to cling to it, pause for a minute and just ask yourself why...."

Because I enjoy watching it, and for no other reason. I enjoy watching well performed Cotswold style morris more however, especially the brilliant but sadly now defunct Morris Offspring with Faustus


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 09:12 AM

The obvious difference is that "Black Piet" is intended to represent a black person,

His defenders would often argue he's black because of the soot encountered going up and down chimneys. Somewhat in contradiction to the broken speech and accents (often like a Surinam creole)he widely speaks/spoke in.

But the point was ofcourse the arguments used , tradition, it's 'ours', it's been always like that, it's PC, who are they coming here telling us our traditions are racist etc etc are very similar.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 09:12 AM

Cotswold, blacking up?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Captain Swing
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 09:33 AM

Peter Laban, playing the PC Card from either side of the argument is not helpful.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 10:40 AM

Exactly my point Captain. Perhaps I should have said the argument was 'PC gone mad'


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Andrew W-R
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 12:26 PM

As I understand it, Morris is a mutation of the word Moorish. I.e. Dancing in the style of the Moors who, to most people's understanding in the mid 15th century were black. I have also been given to understand that that is the origin of guising and that it was intentionally 'blackface' in the same way Al Jolson was.
Doing something for 500 years may make it traditional, but it doesn't make it right. An opinion shared by the Bard of Avon:

HORATIO
Is it a custom?
HAMLET
Ay, marry, is ’t.
But to my mind, though I am native here
And to the manner born, it is a custom
More honored in the breach than the observance.

Nor should this decision be about political correctness (mad or otherwise). Article 1 of the UDHR begins: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Note the word dignity.
Blackface is a caricature of black people's physical appearance and as such impinges upon their dignity, irrespective of whether insult is intended or felt.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 01:00 PM

What absolute drivel guest Andrew W-R

Long may blacked up morris be performed.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 01:11 PM

FWIW, 'Black Pete' is also supposedly Moorish in origin.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 01:24 PM

Yes that is correct.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Raggytash
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 01:44 PM

Speaking as a born and bred Smurf I find it offensive when people paint their faces blue.

Shouldn't be allowed.

Now most of you are saying "what an idiot" and I have to say I agree with you.

As far as I am aware painting faces black was merely done to avoid "those in power" from recognising those who were dancing.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 05:14 PM

In my area the “dancers” danced through the villages around Christmas and put soot on their faces so they could cause mishchief and also the landowners wouldn’t know who it was as they had just been set on for the year at the Michaelmas Fair. But every one knew who it was , this was told to me about 20 years ago by a lady who was 97 and my neighbours mother . Make of it what you will


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 06:08 PM

It may well have been used as disguise by poachers, machine breakers or whatever.

That is irrelevant to the predicament of the morris organizations.

Read what the Morris Ring actually wrote.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 06:23 PM

It's irrelevant, full stop, Jack!

No dancer nowadays needs to disguise himself/herself for any sort of anonimity issue. (As a morris dancer myself I'm avoiding making the usual wisecrack here).

The cheapness of blacking materials is no longer relevant. Most use greasepaint nowadays anyway.

Continuing any activity solely because 'it is traditional' is ridiculous in the extreme. For any tradition to survive in the modern world it needs to be adaptable. Christ, even religious leaders are beginning to realise this! Okay, well some of them.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe G
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 07:25 PM

Nick - you obviously didn't see my warning - I have a vague idea where you live too :-)

'I will find and kill the next person who says that blue face colour is discriminatory against Smurfs ;-)'


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Captain Swing
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 08:06 PM

Well said Steve Gardham 5.26 and 6.23

Bonzo: "all these nutty "must not do blackface morris" herberts are mentally ill, just like the vegan obsessives!!!"

If you are going to make statements as above you do really need to provide some evidence or people will just dismiss what you say in the same way one would the ramblings of a person weaving their sad somnolent sway down the street swigging from a bottle of Buckfast or White Lightning.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jul 20 - 08:19 PM

There's no question that here in the US, blackface was used to ridicule Black people in a very denigrating way. Wearing blackface here is now completely unacceptable.

When Americans see blackface Morris dancers, they read racism - whether or not racism is intended. And I think we're at a point where many people in the UK read racism in blackface, whether or not that is the intent. Changing to other colors seems to be a good compromise.

Here in the US, there are people who think that every song sung by blackface minstrels must be suppressed. I read a long diatribe against "I've Been Working on the Railroad," and I just can't buy it. I still sing "Old Black Joe" and see nothing wrong with it, but that's another song that is under attack. These are hard decisions to make. I got my head chewed off by somebody who was offended that I read the lyrics of a "John Chinaman" song to demonstrate the racism of such songs. I think if I don't give graphic examples, people don't understand that even "cute" songs can be racist.

So, I guess that even if you don't mean it, wearing blackface sends hurtful, racist messages to at least some people.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Jul 20 - 03:35 AM

In a very measured way, Joe has exactly nailed why we should call time on blackface.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe G
Date: 06 Jul 20 - 05:43 AM

Yes well said Joe


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Jul 20 - 06:14 AM

Joe??


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 06 Jul 20 - 07:31 AM

That was Joe Grint methinks.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 06 Jul 20 - 08:07 AM

"So, I guess that even if you don't mean it, wearing blackface sends hurtful, racist messages to at least some people."

That is their problem, if they don't like it don't watch. The very thought of yoghurt makes me want to puke, so I don't do it!!!


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe G
Date: 06 Jul 20 - 08:15 AM

Yep Dave is correct. If that is what you were asking Steve?

My well said was in response to Joe Offer's comments on blackface


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 06 Jul 20 - 08:28 AM

The idea of putting soot on the face, so that landowners didn't know what their labourers were up to or middle class professionals could indulge in rustic pursuits without damaging their reputation, seems like a back story to me. The local population must have been easily confused. As disguise, it's right up there with Clark Kent's glasses.

DC


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Vic Smith
Date: 06 Jul 20 - 11:36 AM

Clark Kent
Wasn't he an illegal immigrant from Krypton? How he got a green card and that job on the Daily Planet I'll never know.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Jul 20 - 11:56 AM

Oh no..

Don't get bonz started on space aliens coming here with their faces painted,
disguised as human beings,
taking our jobs and our women...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Jul 20 - 12:00 PM

Prime suspects are Cummings and Gove..

No amount of Caucasian flesh tone makeup
can hide their oddly shaped alien heads...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 06 Jul 20 - 01:18 PM

[quote]

The idea of putting soot on the face, so that landowners didn't know what their labourers were up to or middle class professionals could indulge in rustic pursuits without damaging their reputation, seems like a back story to me. The local population must have been easily confused. As disguise, it's right up there with Clark Kent's glasses.
[/quote]

I wonder why the Rebbeca rioters bothered with blacking their faces then?

Somehow I think that you have never watched a black faced side containing people who you know.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 06 Jul 20 - 03:19 PM

You were saying? I presume there is more to come.

DC


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Noreen
Date: 06 Jul 20 - 08:34 PM

"The local population must have been easily confused. As disguise, it's right up there with Clark Kent's glasses"

You might be surprised, Doug.
When I greet people I know at festivals with my face painted in black and silver, I find it remarkable the number of people who don't know it's me- even people who know me well, and even when they hear my voice.
Even when new dancers in our side appear in facepaint for the first time, it can take us a while to recognise them.

Our side decided a while ago to use a mixture of black and silver facepaint (our side's colours) to avoid this problem.
While I HATE the fact that those who use full-face black makeup feel they have to change (as it seems an admission that there was somethinhg wrong with it- when there has never been any racist intent), I agree with what Brian Peters said above:

Who would choose to die in a ditch for blackface?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Jos
Date: 07 Jul 20 - 01:37 AM

The choice should NOT be between black face paint and dying in a ditch. The face paint itself isn't going to cause the wearers to die, so the suggestion is that the objectors would feel justified in killing them.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 07 Jul 20 - 11:00 AM

There is too much willful naivety, stubborn stupidity, or blatant provocative nationalism
on display in this thread;
from those disgruntled at any compromise over blackface...

Whichever of those 3 best describes you,
the 21st Century don't care, and is moving forward leaving you behind...

If you are not an extremist nationalist,
all you are doing is acting as useful idiots for those in the far right
who are latching onto British Folk traditions
as propaganda symbols they can rally round
for their divisive cause...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 07 Jul 20 - 11:12 AM

....once again.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 07 Jul 20 - 11:25 AM

You nailed it, PFR.

Don't be a tool.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe G
Date: 07 Jul 20 - 12:42 PM

Yep spot on pfr


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jul 20 - 06:06 PM

You were saying? I presume there is more to come.

DC

No more to come, I was just pointing out that your statement was inaccurate.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Mr Red
Date: 08 Jul 20 - 05:24 AM

The pendulum swings, and it has momentum. And it doesn't stop at any notional bottom.

We have to bow to the inevitable, just so the pendulum doesn't smack us in the head. But:

1) It is easier to take offence than give it.

2) ascribing your own notions on the meanings of anothers' culture is cultural appropriation. Own that concept before you say "Yes but......."

& FWIW didn't the indigenous Brits first "black up" to imitate the acrobatic (Asian) tumblers that were called Morresque. Is flattery so offensive? Yea, Yea - by Victorian times it was to disguise identity.

That's the Folk Process. So it the fashion (aka response) for Blue-Faced Morris. And are we going to ban black face masks? In a time of COVID? I have seen them on one side for years.

I have seen reports on aggresive BLM comments that statues of Jesus are offensive. Because the white marble (??) depicts a white face. If true that it represents a pendulum swinging way too much. IMNSH (atheist) O.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: r.padgett
Date: 08 Jul 20 - 06:24 AM

"The costumes worn by Molly dancers are very individualistic, but largely based upon working outdoor clothes and hobnailed boots. Dancers may have their faces blackened or otherwise disguised as in the photograph below. Disguising the face in this way is well-known in English social history: men wishing to pursue proscribed activities would black their faces to avoid recognition: such activities could include both smuggling and morris dancing!"

Ray

Blacking up has clearly a completely different historical origin to that of the Black and White Minstrels history which denigrates black people ~ I said somewhere why not use different colours and patterns ~ I see no problems with this approach


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 08 Jul 20 - 06:41 AM

Marxist-Afro-American centrist/chauvinist approved history & fun. Oh boy!

“Dying in a ditch...” &c.… Handcuffed, garrotted, stabbed & shot in the back twice, with a single shot .22LR so… suicide?

Purely rhetorical question apropos absolutely nothing at all: Do the rules specifically ban Afro merkins?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 08 Jul 20 - 10:35 AM

Has anyone dared mention that much of this British trad dance
being so chauvinistically defended on principle,
is probably shite entertainment and art...

Which most normal sensible folks don't care exists..

Even many of the far right who have newly rallied to the cause of protecting blackface morris,
might have to admit it was crap if they were forced to watch it sober...

Get real, you few cranky agitators for blacking up...!!!

The best morris sides, which elevate our trad dance to an artform,
do not need to depend on the dubious politics of blackface...

..and even then British folk dance is quite dull compared to the best from other Nations and Races...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Jul 20 - 10:58 AM

PFR, you certainly don't help your statement by being so negative and aggressive! Whatever the merits/demerits of Morris are is irrelevant to blacking up.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Mo the caller
Date: 08 Jul 20 - 11:15 AM

British folk dance dull??????
Well it is rarely state-subsidised and highly choreographed.
It is all sorts of things.
80 year olds in a school hall adapting the moves that make them dizzy.Enjoying the company and the music while keeping aa active as possible.
Display teams that won't let you dance out until you reach a high standard.
Vilage halls full of all ages charging about wildly to lively music.
Display teams who accept anyone who will have a go.
Wedding guests who've never done this before.
Solo step dancers.

British folk dance is participation. And Joy.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 08 Jul 20 - 11:16 AM

"GGGRRRRRR...!!!"

that's me being aggressive...

"..oh nooo.. what's the point.. we're all going to die alone in misery.."

that's me being negative...

Steve - I like Morris, our local side put on a great show, for both the initiated enthusiasts and uninitiated casual onlookers...

That's the well deployed power of simple sticks 'n' hankies

But if given a choice between them and a Cossack dance.....

My actual argument is that British Nationalists need to spend more time on the internet
learning to appreciate and enjoy international folk cultures,
rather than watching the latest daily video blogs from USA and other foreign hate propagandists...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 08 Jul 20 - 01:07 PM

I'm an aging bloke who grew up in the 1960s,
when some attitudes were unquestioned as the socially acceptable norm..

Compromise and change, can be unwanted and uncomfortable..
But sometimes painfully unavoidable...

There are some things I'd like to still do and say,
but can't anymore,
out of consideration and respect for other folks who now see the world
differently than I used to..

If it wasn't for far right British Nationalists
cynically latching onto and exploiting 'Blackface morris'
as a convenient vehicle for their insidious propaganda and recruitment;
it might not have become such a red hot issue,
as it is right now...

Blackface has been on precarious ground for years,
increasingly difficult to defend why it should continue.
Any reasonable old arguments in favour, are not so sufficient anymore

But the final nail in it's coffin,
is the far right adopting 'British Blackface Tradition' as a symbol to rally around
in provocative defiance of BLM progress...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 08 Jul 20 - 01:31 PM

.. like the female far right youtuber who always sat
with a gollywog prominently displayed beside her...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 08 Jul 20 - 01:39 PM

I've never seen a Morris dancer in Black and White minstrel's make up or costume. I do not see any similarity (the Black and White mistrels was one of the first programs to be broadcast in colour in the UK, by the way).

Though I do remember Seven Champions in lycra bodysuits.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Jul 20 - 05:48 PM

Bacup comes pretty close and the East Riding ploughboys actually sang minstrel songs. Flamborough Sword Dance uses two minstrel song tunes but they don't black up and I don't remember seeing older pictures of them blacking up even when they wore military costume as opposed to the fisherman's outfit they used all last century.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: r.padgett
Date: 09 Jul 20 - 03:23 AM

Bacup Coconutters are unbelievable ~ totally unique it terms of Morris dancing even ~long may they continue, and entertaining

Ray


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Jul 20 - 03:27 AM

I love British Morris dancing.
I also like to see women dancing Morris. I find it exciting.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Long Firm Freddie
Date: 09 Jul 20 - 04:36 AM

A thesis entitled ‘Blacking Up’: English Folk Traditions
and Changing Perceptions about Black People in England submitted in 2013 by Trish Bater makes interesting reading. The link goes direct to a pdf download:
Thesis

LFF


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 09 Jul 20 - 06:02 AM

I'll guess the conclusion of this thesis,
is that this is a far too complex problem,
that some highly vociferous disgruntled folkies can only reduce to seeing
in simplistic black and white...


[.. groan as much as you like.. my spirit animal may be Basil Brush...]


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 09 Jul 20 - 06:14 AM

A slight, but possibly related, thread drift..

Last night we watched an episode of RICKY & RALF'S VERY NORTHERN ROAD TRIP
on UK Gold catch up..

[The Cumbria and Lake district episode]

The segment exploring the Pencil Museum, explained the origins of the term "Black Market",
in relation to the discovery and exploitation of the local raw resource Graphite;
and it's properties as a darkening colourant for white skin...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 09 Jul 20 - 06:39 AM

PFR - Being of British and Cossack extraction I can assure you that there are good and bad Morris and Cossack dance sides. There are good and bad dancers and dances from all over the world. The reason you may prefer those of other cultures is that you only see the best of those in this country whereas you see the good and bad of our own.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Mo the caller
Date: 09 Jul 20 - 08:29 AM

Yes Dave, I agree. British folk is all sorts of things and the beauty is that includes everyone.
Some of the foreign teams we are state subsidised, choregraphed propaganda.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 09 Jul 20 - 09:27 AM

Before any more knickers get over twisted..

I repeat - I personally like morris..
..and a variety of just as good, if not better, foreign folk culture..


My post [Date: 08 Jul 20 - 10:35 AM] was a tongue in cheek jibe,
a wind-up response to dodgy nationalist rhetoric posts
which have since been deleted...


But I'll still argue that a lot of the right wing protesters now flocking to defend Blackface Morris
on Nationalist principle,
would only pretend to be enjoying it for their own divisive ideological reasons...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 09 Jul 20 - 10:42 AM

To be honest, it never occurred to me before this current purge that there could be a problem with blackface morris. I enjoy the stamping, yelling and mystery of the black faces, wondering who the hell they are. I saw a blackface side once in the 1980s dancing to Shadows records, can't remember who they were though.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jul 20 - 10:42 AM

I'd argue a lot of lefties just like virtue signalling. They must lead sad lives looking for every opportunity to be offended.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe G
Date: 09 Jul 20 - 10:55 AM

No Guest - we're just considerate about how other people may feel and do not condone anything that could be interpreted as racist. Nothing sad about that - just decent

Bonzo - you'd get the same effect if people used blue or green face so what's the problem


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 09 Jul 20 - 11:07 AM

Just a reminder.. for any Guests and mudcat members still moaning about 'PC gone mad' and 'virtue signalling', etc..

Who exactly is it banning Blackface Morris...???

Who here in this thread, is even calling for it to be banned...?????

It's up to the Blackface sides to listen and engage in current debate,
then take responsibility making their own decision if they should continue blacking up in public, or not...

It don't bother me one way or another..
I'm down in the west country where we're happy enough with sticks and hankies..

My agenda ain't against the regional peculiarities of morris traditions,
good luck to 'em if they can find reasonable intelligent ways to be preserved..

No, my issue is with the right wing ideologues appropriating our traditional British folk culture,
for their own pernicious divisive Nationalist propaganda purposes...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 09 Jul 20 - 01:43 PM

Joe G - what is your problem with black?????


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 09 Jul 20 - 02:02 PM

Bonz - why don't you conduct some research..

Take a laptop full of videos and images of Blackface Morris
to a street corner on one of the estates in Croydon,
and invite random BAME passers by to view them...

While you give them a jolly spiel on why they would be so over sensitive
if they took offence...

.. just an idea...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe G
Date: 09 Jul 20 - 02:51 PM

Can I look on from a safe distance? ;-)


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Jul 20 - 03:41 PM

'what is your problem with black?????'

Not Joe's problem and the answer has been spelled out in great detail here.

Go read the OP, Bonz, and then take up your gripe with the 3 Morris organisations.

I think the subject is just about exhausted.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 09 Jul 20 - 03:43 PM

Agreed...……………….next?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Jul 20 - 04:03 PM

I'll shake on that, Bonz.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Mr Red
Date: 10 Jul 20 - 02:13 AM

I once had this conversation with a person of colour who told me that a gollywog was offensive. I pointed out that I had one as a child and it was my comfort blanket. He didn't see the irony. Taking offense that is not given?
AND how many of the older of this parish remember cast iron savings banks that had a hinged arm that delivered the coins into the mouth. In the shape of a golly? Teaching children, is that offensive?

Life ain't binary.

But at the end of the day I would rather not upset a friend than give any credence to supporters of the Farrage Balloon.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Jos
Date: 10 Jul 20 - 02:46 AM

When I was a small, amongst the dolls in the toy cupboard (one black, some pink) we also had a golliwog. It never occurred to me that the golliwog was supposed to represent a real person, any more than the flowerpot men were supposed to be real people, or Noddy and Big Ears.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jul 20 - 03:13 AM

Many Americans won't know what a Golliwog is - but once they see one, they'll consider it offensive. Golliwogs are cute and cuddly and lovable - and for good reason, many people consider them racist.

White people think of all sorts of racist icons and songs and practices as "cute," and many of them really are cute - but on the other hand, they present a diminutive image of People of Color that, while cute and well-intentioned, is also demeaning.

We have a number of Chinaman threads here at Mudcat. Guests come here to Mudcat regularly after Googling these "Chinaman" songs that they grew up with, and then they post the version of the song that they knew as a child, and they get all nostalgic for these cute songs - and cute they are, and demeaning.

I read a couple of verses from one of those "Chinaman" songs to a group from church, and one white person was offended that I would even read those racist lyrics to friends to demonstrate the racism against Chinese in America. I think he was wrong to condemn me, but I'm not sure he's ever going to speak to me again.

And the Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben and the Black man on the Cream of Wheat box are all icons that we view with love and nostalgia, because they remind us of the Black men and women who served us white people when we were children. And yes, many of them loved us and we loved them, but still we were in a master-servant relationship with them.

Now, we're in a long-awaited period of cleansing, and many parts of our culture and language that might be considered racist, are being destroyed or removed. Many things that are being erased fropm our culture, are thing that we loved and that we consider completely benign.

As for blackface Morris, it's clear that many good people consider it to be racist, while other good people don't. It does seem to be likely to be viewed as demeaning to Black people, even though that may not be its intent.

It's going to be a difficult adjustment.

-Joe-

P.S. Will Kipling survive?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Snuffy
Date: 10 Jul 20 - 05:22 AM

"P.S. Will Kipling survive?"

I think he probably deserves to, Joe, if only for this:

Though I’ve belted you and flayed you,   
By the livin’ Gawd that made you,
You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Howard Jones
Date: 10 Jul 20 - 08:33 AM

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

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

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

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

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


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Jul 20 - 10:04 AM

2 sensible and measured responses from Joe and Howard.

Any portrayal of a golly is offensive. It is a copy of one of the uniforms of a Minstrel performer, a caricature of a caricature if you like. Also in Enid Blyton's children's books gollies were portrayed as the villains. They are still on sale in toy shops in England for any racists to purchase.

However, it is important that the historic significance of racist examples are kept in the public eye, lest we forget! It is also important that we acknowledge that our forbears were wrong, and don't make excuses for them.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 10 Jul 20 - 11:34 AM

Gollis were once upon a time childhood toys..

Racists now buy and display them as symbols of infantile defiance...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 10 Jul 20 - 12:15 PM

Actually.. soft cuddly racist dolls might be an enterprising idea...???

Pull a string in their back to make them talk..

They'll say the most amusing random racist cliches..

Ha.. ha.. funny old racist doll..

now back in your toybox with golli, you naughty cheeky cuddly old thug...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 10 Jul 20 - 12:36 PM

Sorry for the hijack but I know PFR is active on here but does not read PMs.

PFR - if you haven't done already, look at Plex online media. Free and full of old films. Including westerns, which I know you enjoy.

Now, back to racism. Talking of westerns, any red skin Morris?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Jul 20 - 12:44 PM

An interesting mention of redskins. The Native Americans were robbed wholesale by illegal settlers who betrayed every single treaty signed.
What recompense will be offered to them I wonder?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 10 Jul 20 - 12:49 PM

I bought plex app for my android tablet a few years ago,
but it looked like too much faffin about..

They still send me emails trying to sell me updated services..
[which I don't bother reading...]

So.. I'm a lefty who still enjoys old cowboy movies full of stock racial stereotype characters..
Who wants to make something of it then...


I gave up trying to encourage folks not to PM me, about 35 messages ago..

I do reluctantly check now at least once a week...

Btw.. the 1980s socialist skinhead band, "The Redskins" might now have a bit of a PR problem...

END OF THREAD HIJACK...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 10 Jul 20 - 02:33 PM

Actually one more, if you don't mind: Though the Trump antics are what drew the most attention to yesterday's Supreme Court decisions, this one in the long run is far more substantial:

Supreme Court says much of eastern Oklahoma remains Indian land

The Supreme Court said Thursday that a large swath of eastern Oklahoma remains an American Indian reservation, a decision with potential implications for nearly 2?million residents and one of the most significant victories for tribal rights in years.

The land at issue contains much of Tulsa, the state’s second-largest city. The question for the court was whether Congress officially eliminated the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation when Oklahoma became a state in 1907.

In a 5-to-4 decision invoking the country’s long history of mistreating Native Americans, the court said “we hold the government to its word” and the land Congress promised to the Creek Nation is still Indian land.

“If Congress wishes to withdraw its promises, it must say so. Unlawful acts, performed long enough and with sufficient vigor, are never enough to amend the law,” wrote Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who was joined by the court’s liberal justices.

Most directly, the ruling means that federal officers, not state authorities, have the power to prosecute tribal members for major crimes committed in the defined area. Less certain is how the decision affects the authority of state and city leaders when it comes to imposing taxes, zoning laws and other regulations.


Now back to Morris. Red face or black face would be fraught here in the US. Blue face seems most appropriate in the UK, but I imagine not everyone is in love with woad. Is it a throwback to the Picts? ;-)


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Learaí na Láibe
Date: 11 Jul 20 - 04:30 PM

May I say I'm offended at the suggestion that Morris Dancers green-up instead of black-up. This is grossly insensitive to us True Gaels and our national vegetable of cabbage, our official uniform of Leprechaun suits and our ancient custom of wetting the shamrock in green beer on our national saint's day. St. Patrick himself was of course traditionally represented in green. :)

Seriously though, Morris dancing will continue as entertaining as ever whatever the facial make-up. Keep the show going.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 11 Jul 20 - 05:11 PM

Yes, just so long as black morris dancers don't white-up!!!


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Jul 20 - 05:20 PM

Because racists have tried to hijack Morris’s why are we dropping blacking up if it was done for whatever reasons it has become tradition very much like Notting hill carnival the people of that area celebrate their culture why can’t we celebrate our culture .             Obviously we have not started on mumming yet and then there is regional carols who are us tradionlists / folkies going to upset there. Next you will be telling me I can’t play Irish tunes on my English concertina . The world is a big place and I have done a fair bit of travelling I have learnt loads from people I have met and hopefully they have learnt from me


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 06:05 AM

GUEST, please read the thread before posting. Your misgivings are fully explained and dealt with.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 06:45 AM

How effective will this be in combating racism?Time will tell
   If people are serious about combating racism, I would start with the uk police force, there was an interesting eye opening programme on radio 4 recently in which black brown and coloured policemen and women were talking about institutionalised racism in the uk police force, if we are to get to the root of the racism problem in the uk, in my opinion this would be a more appropriate place to start., especially in the context of the murder of G Floyd in America recently.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Howard Jones
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 09:31 AM

It won't have any effect at all on combating racism. As we've discussed at length, blacked-up morris isn't racist and neither are the majority of people who dance it. However compared with addressing real issues it's an easy win, and those who have been campaigning for it are no doubt congratulating themselves, but it won't make a scrap of difference in the real world.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 11:12 AM

'but it won't make a scrap of difference in the real world'

It will make a difference to the people who feel uneasy or mocked by seeing people blacked up. It may not change the overall picture of racism but it's a start.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 11:28 AM

"It won't have any effect at all on combating racism"

.. not necessarily...

Baby steps are better than none at all..

If this wider debate can influence just a few innately conservative old folkies
to question their lifelong attitudes to race issues,
then it would at least count as some small increment of progress...???

Obviously it's too late for a lot of 'em to give a sh!t about BLM..

[as a number of stubbornly dismissive, and outright antagonistic, posts in this thread demonstrate..]...

But there may be some positive hope for more enlightened attitudes
informing the next generation of enthusiastic morris practitioners...

Who knows, Blackface Morris could still have an acceptable performance place
with a future better informed and sensibly tolerant audience...????????


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 02:30 PM

Perhaps some discussion of what exactly Blackface Morris consists of might help to clarify. I have only ever danced Cotswold and honestly can't remember a team ever wearing blackface, except some very new teams. I have seen many Northwest teams but not for a few years so am not sure if any of them used bf or even some other colour. I know some modern teams, women's teams and mixed teams, who use it or some form of colouring.

Which tradition/teams claim to use it as 'traditional'?

Bacup is one-off, and I don't think any revival teams attempt to imitate.

Ploughlads on Plough Monday certainly used it mainly as disguise because if you turned them away they were said to plough up your lawn. But there is some ambivalence here as some of them certainly sang Minstrel songs in the mid nineteenth century.

Perhaps those in the know can enlighten us to who it is that persists in using it, and how their usage relates to tradition.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 03:11 PM

It is a feature of Border morris and Molly, both of which are largely modern inventions reconstructed from a few fragments. Nevertheless, so far as I am aware, blacking up and other elements of the costume are based on the original traditions.

Some claim this came from Minstrelsy. Minstrelsy was a huge part of popular culture for well over a hundred years and its impact is still felt today (how many people are aware that "Jingle Bells" was a minstrel song?). Minstrel tunes found their way into traditional music, including Cotswold morris. What I find interesting is that despite minstrelsy's massive popularity blacking up is not found more widely. If it was derived from minstrelsy surely it would be more widespread? What seems more likely to me is that elements of minstrelsy attached themselves most readily to those traditions where blacking up was already a feature.

The reason this has become so contentious is that its supporters genuinely believe that the tradition does not have racist origins and cannot understand why people cannot see that they are not caricaturing black people.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: RTim
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 03:20 PM

Although some historical writings suggest early Morris teams "Blacked Up" - until the no Cotswold or North West Morris teams did so (except Bacup Coconut Dancers....). That is still true today.
Border Morris (that collected on the Welsh Borders) was so named by E.C.Cawte in 1963, and before then there were only 13 Border Dances collected. In some cases it was called locally "Niggering".
In the early 1970's two teams led the trends - Silurian Morris and the joint teams led by John Kirkpatrick - The Shropshire Bedlams (Male) and Martha Rhoden's Tuppenny Dish (Female) - began dancing - Both the Men's teams Blacked Up.
This started a trend and there was an explosion all over the UK of Border Morris teams..mostly copying the costume of two male teams above...of Black Faces and Rag Jackets...Even though not all the earlier teams had this costume. It was claimed that is was essential to wear a Disguise to dance, hence the Black face...generally done by using Burnt Cork. Eventually, many teams started using Black (pancake) Make up.
This is how we got to where we are today. Although a large percentage of teams have moved away from Black..and are now using other colours and Masks (for example - the Shropshire Bedlams now wear Masks)
Opponents of Blacking Up suggest Now is the time to find a different form of Disguise.

Tim Radford (Sorry if this has been fully covered before on this thread)


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: RTim
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 03:34 PM

I would like to add something to Howard's post below......

“Jingle Bells” is a classic song sung at Christmas time, but it didn't start out that way. First published in 1857, it was written by James Lord Pierpont, to be sung on Thanksgiving — not Christmas. There is some question as to where it was written — Massachusetts and Georgia both are plausible. Medford, Mass., where sleigh races were popular in the 1800s, claims itself as the birthplace of the song. There is a plaque at 19 High Street, the site of the former Simpson Tavern, where Pierpont was said to have penned the ditty in 1850.

The original title of the song was “One Horse Open Sleigh,” but that was changed to “Jingle Bells, or the One Horse Open Sleigh” when it was reprinted in 1859.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 04:05 PM

"The reason this has become so contentious is that its supporters genuinely believe
that the tradition does not have racist origins and cannot understand why people cannot see that they are not caricaturing black people.
"

Even if as many are as completely innocent as you describe,
such extensive naive blissful lack of awareness
would still make them essentially a significant factor in perpetuating problematic attitudes...???


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 04:31 PM

It's only a problematic attitude if you believe that blacking up for any purpose is totally unacceptable in all circumstances. Obviously it is now unacceptable for a white a Tory to blak up to play a a black person. But how about playing a coal miner, or a chimney sweep, or a commando? If they are acceptable, why not a morris dancer?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 04:39 PM

Exactly


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 04:50 PM

"It's only a problematic attitude if you believe that blacking up for any purpose is totally unacceptable in all circumstances. "

err... no... does that really make sense...?????

Surely you realise this problem is more complex than how you seem to want to see it,
or rationalise it away...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 06:03 PM

Howard, you surprise me!
A coal miner and a chimney sweep do not black up, they become black because of their work, no choice. Anyone acting as such in a play would be just that, acting, with a very valid reason for using greasepaint. Similarly the commando is trying to avoid detection at night and the disguise is very necessary. No comparison at all.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Jul 20 - 04:23 AM

yes it.does make sense.
what happens if a black or brown morris dancer uses a colour to disguise his or her face?
i think it is rather unfortunate that there are not more black brown or half caste morrisdancers, if there were this might not be a problem at all.
morris dancing tends to be a white persons hobby at the moment more non white people doing it and disguising up would be interesting, a much easier way to defeat racism ,


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Howard Jones
Date: 13 Jul 20 - 05:16 AM

My point is about context. A morris dancer putting on kit and make-up is preparing for a performance, no less than an actor. In the examples I gave, people can see from the context that the purpose of blacking up is not racist, so no offence is taken. With morris, despite this being a clear enough context with nothing else in it to suggest any caricaturing of black people, the presumption seems to be that blacking up is racist and is offensive.

Perhaps this is because morris is an unfamiliar context to most people. The reality is that this interpretation appears to be resistant to any explanation, so (as I conceded earlier) this move is probably necessary. It is the path of least resistance, but I refute the suggestion that it is because morris contains "problematic attitudes".


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 13 Jul 20 - 09:09 AM

Howard - No racism in morris...???

you are asking us to suspend disbelief too far....

Pull t'other one...!!!

Most of us are over 60,
and have spent at least four of those decades enjoying/enduring convivial social situations
and informal conversation with our fellow provincial small town 'white' British public...

Even our 'liberal' mates have after a few pints
sometimes surprisingly expressed their most dodgy misconceptions
and ingrained negative attitudes regarding race issues...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Howard Jones
Date: 13 Jul 20 - 11:05 AM

Morris dancers come from all walks of life, and it is to be expected that you will find a wide range of views amongst them. I don't doubt that includes some who are racist, it's a statistical probability. That doesn't make the morris itself racist.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 13 Jul 20 - 11:31 AM

"That doesn't make the morris itself racist"

Apart from your keen compulsion to deny it,
I don't recall anyone actually claiming that morris is intrinsically racist, in this thread...???

Though, more learned folkies than me have pointed out far too plausible factors
that can link certain blackface morris 'tradition's to historic and present racism...

..and.. constant repeated self defensive denial itself does tend to raise suspicions
that might not otherwise have occurred...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Howard Jones
Date: 13 Jul 20 - 01:58 PM

PFR, I think we are dancing on the head of a pin. We are both agreed that morris has to change. Whether or not it is racist, too many people are offended by it and trying to explain it is no longer sufficient.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 13 Jul 20 - 02:14 PM

Howard - absolutely..

But Morris needs to be honest and transparent, not evasive and in denial...


'Inclusive' will be a bonus...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 13 Jul 20 - 04:27 PM

I thought morris was supposed to be fun!!


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 13 Jul 20 - 04:53 PM

Bonz - guess what.. folks can be responsible and considerate, and still have bags of fun...

..unless you're the kind of bloke with a kink for selfish harmful to other people fun...???


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Stewie
Date: 13 Jul 20 - 09:17 PM

Sandman reflected above on what would be the result of black or brown people performing in blackface. The majority of Mudcatters would probably be unaware of the cult New Zealand comedy series, 'Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby', that was aired on NZ and Australian television some 14 years ago. The penultimate episode of the first series was entitled 'Coon Tunes' and featured a version of 'Uncle Ned' performed at the school concert.

Here is a thoughtful commentary on the episode and the series:

2005 article in The Age

Here is youtube clip of the concert scene:

Old Matua Ned

I would be interested in comments on The Age article's analysis of comedy in the context of this thread and current thinking.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Jul 20 - 04:04 AM

if morros dancing federations want to combat racism , they should make serious attempts to encourage black brown and half caste and yellow dancers and dancers of all nationailities. banning things never works, prohibition of alcohol is an example


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 14 Jul 20 - 08:25 AM

The problem with making morris dancing more diverse is that non white people have no interest in English traditions whatsoever, so little chance of recruitment from that sector!'


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 14 Jul 20 - 08:41 AM

Bonz - there may at present be some truth in what you say..

But given time and positive encouragement, and a welcoming environment..

You might be surprised...

There have already been notable experiments in cross-cultural folk music/dance collaboration,
to varying degrees of success..

But obviously, diversity and inclusivity can not be forced on folk
in a rigid formal doctrinaire 'quota' manner..

That would be self defeating, and definitely would not work...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Jul 20 - 08:59 AM

Sad to see the term 'half caste' used here.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Jul 20 - 09:01 AM

https://genius.com/John-agard-half-caste-annotated

Nice poem.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Modette
Date: 14 Jul 20 - 09:01 AM

... and 'non-white'!


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Jul 20 - 09:05 AM

Most ritual dance sides are constantly scratching around for new recruits. I can't imagine for one moment any decent side turning anyone away, other than those who exercise a gender preference.

However, it would be good to see at least some mixed race sides, or even sides of other ethnicities.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Snuffy
Date: 14 Jul 20 - 09:52 AM

Here's the guidance recently circulated by the Morris Ring, which indicates that you can still have black (or any other colour) on your face, but not 100%. Sounds fine to me.

What do you mean by “full face black or other skin tone makeup?”

Any solid full face coloured make up which could be taken by an observer as likely to imitate or parody a skin colour different from your own. ‘Make up’ is used here as a general term to mean any kind of stage make up, face paint, soot, charcoal, or similar.

Although we acknowledge that our member teams are not intentionally racist, this practice has long been associated with making fun of other races, through the portrayal of memes and stereotypes. Since these historical portrayals most often used “blacking” of various sorts, full face black make up is now irrevocably associated with giving offence. It does not matter that it is not meant in that way. It is the effect on others – not the intent – which could give rise to a legal challenge for racial harassment under the Equality Act.

The key words are “solid” and “full face”. If you want black to be part of your makeup or disguise, that is fine. If you want to use only black, including smudgy or streaky designs, that is fine too – just keep it to less than half of the visible skin on your face. Obvious patterns and designs are also a good way of using black without the potential to cause problems. If you want to use a mask or face covering, please make sure that it doesn’t imitate full face black or other skin tone.

We want teams to honour the spirit of the request, not to worry about the minutiae of what is and is not allowed.

In short, we are asking teams to work with us on this matter, to help protect themselves and their fellow member teams from unintended problems. Please contact your Area Rep or a Ring Officer to discuss.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Jul 20 - 04:23 PM

fair enough snuffy, that seems sensible. so half black half white
is no problem.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 14 Jul 20 - 07:23 PM

Stop with the nonsense, Dick. Mixed-race is an acceptable term, as in "my children are mixed race." Forget the measurements and colors and caste stuff.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Jul 20 - 02:07 AM

stilly,
i am talking about disguise on peoples face.
half black half white disguise on peoples faces is sensible enough.
Bonzo. people who are of different nationalities need to be encouraged to take part in morris dancing, its perhaps a question of being proactive about it,


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Jul 20 - 03:49 AM

this is the situation , it is acceptable to disguise but not full face disguise, the irony of all this is that it is now acceptable according to the new guidelines... to disguise as a black and white minstrel,which has racist connotations, on a white face all that has to be done now is copy the black and white minstrel design in a patternblack
to quote Snuffy who is quoting the new guidelines
If you want to use only black, including smudgy or streaky designs, that is fine too – just keep it to less than half of the visible skin on your face. Obvious patterns and designs are also a good way of using black without the potential to cause problems. Obvious patterns and designs are also a good way of using black without the potential to cause problems.
I dont suppose anyone other than a racist would want to imitate black and white minstrel design,
but those racists who apparently have infiltrated morris dancing could now proceed to cause further trouble if they so wish.
the whole area is now a minefield.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 15 Jul 20 - 04:04 AM

It is a bit ironic but also confusing that "traditional" means "that which was done for many years" and therefore acceptable to the public, and some descritive phrases that are therefore "traditional" are now no longer acceptable.
So traditional is no longer neccessarily acceptable, but things are changing so fast that I find it hard to keep up!

Robin


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 15 Jul 20 - 04:30 AM

Bit defeatist, Bonzo. Just think about when we were little lads. Not one black footballer in the top leagues. Now see what we have... Nothing's perfect and there's still racism attached to footie, but every player now takes the knee at the start of every Premier League game... Things can and do move on. And everyone knows that the Senegalese player Sadio Mané of Liverpool is the world's greatest player at the world's greatest club...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: peteglasgow
Date: 15 Jul 20 - 05:06 AM

i've always thought that football was ahead of the game with racism. there isn't a football fan in the country whose club hasn't had a black hero. are there any football fans who would not celebrate if a black guy scored for their team? well, they aren't football fans - they are just racist. while there is plenty of stupidity too - when your hero is mane, henry or larsson to give racist abuse to other team's black players. (and wtf is going on in the pretty little heads of 'the democratic lads football alliance?)

with morris - many of us have favourites - i remember seeing rag morris (i think) (and thought they were great) 30 years ago at the trowbridge festival. as i recall, they had black faces then. had i seen them this year at shrewsbury and they had changed to - say - red and yellow, i'd be delighted. What is the problem with responding to change - particularly for such a good reason?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 15 Jul 20 - 05:45 AM

But it's nothing but an emperor's new clothes reason.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: peteglasgow
Date: 15 Jul 20 - 06:23 AM

it would not do anyone any harm and would be a progressive sign of accepting the new realities.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Jul 20 - 06:54 AM

Racism has also been directed at irish football players.

it would be much more progressive if the morris ring and other morris federations made proactive attempts to encourage dancers of all nationalities,
in my opinion that would be more effective at discouraging racism and would be a step towards integration of cultures anddifferent racial groups,
the same applies to encouragement of transgender dancers they need to be made to feel welcome
that means being proactive in recruitment


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Jul 20 - 11:05 AM

Hi Dick
There is actually a world of difference between 'made to feel welcome' and 'proactive in recruitment'. The latter can actually be a form of discrimination within itself.

It can and does lead to situations where a particular group/committee/team are forced into having a set percentage of female/gay/trans/ethnic/religious members.

I joined a political party a couple of years ago and attended a meeting where out of 8 candidates 3 were being selected for council and 2 of them had to be female, so 2 separate votes had to be taken, the first only consisting of female candidates. To me this in itself was discrimination, but my protests were brushed aside.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 15 Jul 20 - 11:50 AM

There is an ever increasing number of people who are simply not normal - they are stark raving bonkers and a pain in the neck!!!


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Jul 20 - 04:54 PM

Could you define 'normal' for us please, Bonz?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 16 Jul 20 - 02:43 AM

Where to start!   Eh Bonzo?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 16 Jul 20 - 10:24 AM

Think I agree with Modette about 'non white'. Plus, I think the idea that "non white" have no interest in English traditions is at best an over-generalisation.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jul 20 - 02:57 PM

It wasn't clear what Modette's point about 'non-white' was.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 18 Jul 20 - 08:55 AM

"And everyone knows that the Senegalese player Sadio Mané of Liverpool is the world's greatest player at the world's greatest club."

No me digas - no es más excelente que Lionel Messi !!!


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 18 Jul 20 - 10:11 AM

"To me this in itself was discrimination, but my protests were brushed aside."

Well yes, it's positive discrimination; anyone advocating positive discrimination who didn't accept it was discrimination would be foolish.

personally I'm an advocate for positive discrimination with a few caveats and nuances. How positive discrimination can work well is if, day, two candidates for a role are equally talented and you can't decide between them, but one is from an underrepresented ethnic minority.

Or a job wherein part of the role is about an understanding of sensitive racial issues, e.g. an EDI (ethnicity, diversity and inclusivity) manager or consultant. Let's just say that I work for a company that recently learned the hard way that a well-meaning, experienced, white, middle-class EDI manager can come a cropper by saying things in public that a black EDI manager would never say in a million years.

In terms of culture - like gig or festival programming -an awareness of gender or racial balance is important. And as a music or gallery promoter you do not have to weigh things up the same way someone employing an atomic scientist or brain surgeon would...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Raedwulf
Date: 18 Jul 20 - 11:09 AM

Ake: "Normal" - Peepul wot sea ther wurld ther saim wai as wut eye duz…

You can scale up from the lowest common denominator (who usually has about the IQ of yeast), but the definition never changes... ;-)


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 18 Jul 20 - 11:23 AM

"In terms of culture - like gig or festival programming -an awareness of gender or racial balance is important"

I would have thought that whether or not an artist is good enough and likely to provide enjoyable entertainment for the audience is of most importance????????????????????????????


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Jul 20 - 01:17 PM

Hi matt,
What percentage of Catholic priests do you think should be Muslims?


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 18 Jul 20 - 01:39 PM

Ah Raedwulf, once again you put me and the world to rights, but all this conversing in code is fair sore on my few remaining brain cells.
Is it the old normal or the new? That is the question


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 18 Jul 20 - 02:15 PM

The new normal is survival.. hopefully of the most sensible folks...

Despite the self destructive stupidity of the mass population,
and their powerful global 'influencers'...

Who will be the winners...!!!???

Arguments about minority interest regional cultural traditions are not a priority for the foreseeable future...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Jul 20 - 04:23 PM

bonzo yes that is how it should be,    but the reality is that folk organisers think i must have variety so we need x amount of woman solo perfomer,x amount of group performers x amount of men solo artists the same applies to festivals,organisers think about balance and variety, they generally book so that they do not have too many men solo artists or too many of one particular style within the folk genre


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 18 Jul 20 - 04:54 PM

"I would have thought that whether or not an artist is good enough and likely to provide enjoyable entertainment for the audience is of most importance"

Bonz - that shouldn't be an issue..

The pool of high calibre talent competing for attention is now immense,
more than ever before..

Far more high quality performers of all gender, race, age, etc
than opportunities for most of them to get gigs...

If there is an issue, it's the criteria for deciding who get's the limited access to a rung on the ladder...

However, I've already stated I think authoritarian 'quotas' forced on morris and folk music,
would not work.

It's better left up to morris sides and folk music promoters themselves
to become more aware of their responsibility to accept and promote inclusivity...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Jul 20 - 06:37 PM

Very true, Dick.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Jul 20 - 01:59 AM

in relation to my last post, it is a result of the commercialisation of the uk folk revival. i am pleased that i took part in festivals when they were run by the EFDSS[ FOR ALL THEIR FAULTS]when commercialism and bums on seats was not the only priority.iwould also like to thank some of those dedicated folk club organisers [most of them on the political left , who organised clubs on a local community ideology and who did not run them for commercial gain, but for the craic and just to break even.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Jul 20 - 06:24 AM

Can't fault that, Dick!


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 19 Jul 20 - 11:12 AM

... forced on morris ... punkfolkrocker.

Chipping into agree with that post (mainly), and also to pick up on an ironical comment about 'English traditional culture' (I think, but I can't find it now).

I joined in the earlier discussions on the "change should not be forced" side. Largely because a lot of white people were seeking to tell me what black people thought and picking their 'facts' to tell me that blacked up morris dancers were racist but didn't realise it. There is some of that here - 'blackface' used provocatively and this idea that special forces use black for disguise. A white face makes a nice target in the dark.

I think the Morris Federation statement is very well written and they have seized an excellent time to make it. As was pointed out in earlier discussion it's hard to take morris out to a wider audience if forever having to explain the make-up of some sides.

If morris wants to be inclusive and welcoming that's fine by me. However, it is a [representation of an idea of] a traditional culture and I think we need to be careful about assuming that every other performing arts group (or whatever) from another culture feels the same way. Where they have historically been the underdogs, or are nostalgic about a culture they have left or lost are we going to call them non-inclusive (and maybe racist) if they don't encourage people who don't share their heritage?

In my experience people are usually very encouraging of those who take an interest in their culture and want to give it a go. I have been helped to do assault on the music of several cultures at festival workshops. But even when done to a very high standard some people get worked up about it - for example the fuss about the African-American lass doing the Irish dancing. Most of the negative comments and accusations of cultural appropration seem rooted in racism to me, but I'm not Irish.

It's better left up to morris sides and folk music promoters themselves
to become more aware of their responsibility to accept and promote inclusivity...


I agree. But, if I want to listen to reggae I'll find something run by promoters who know the music and it's main audience and wouldn't want it changed to promote inclusivity of people like me.

Things like 'tradition' and 'heritage' can sometimes make for tricky balancing acts and some people take an attitude that makes it harder.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 19 Jul 20 - 11:16 AM

"... tricky balancing acts ..." "... require sensitivity and understanding ..." would be better


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,big al whittle
Date: 19 Jul 20 - 03:18 PM

I only went down a coalmine one time. When I came up, my face and nearly everyone else's was black.

I suppose as we take ten league boots away from how our country used to be....the origins of these things become more obscure.

Still we can't arrange our lives for how life used to be, and if we are giving offence and lending comfort to fascists, then we have to change.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 19 Jul 20 - 04:20 PM

Big Al - thumbs up on that.
Good to see you here...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 19 Jul 20 - 04:25 PM

... the origins of these things become more obscure ...

Conversely, looking at some chin-to-forehead blacked morris dancers and seeing it called blackface, I wonder if some campaigners are too young to have watched The Black and White Minstrel Show and know what minstrel blackface looked like.

@punfolkrocker. Sorry, I shouldn't have hung the reggae sentence off an extract from your post.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Jiggers
Date: 04 May 21 - 07:47 AM

Morris dancers ditch black face paint and swap it for blue following racism concerns

https://news.sky.com/story/morris-dancers-ditch-black-face-paint-and-swap-it-for-blue-following-racism-concerns-12292902


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 04 May 21 - 08:09 AM

If the morris is danced well, face colour is irrelevant, just like the wokies!!!


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Jos
Date: 04 May 21 - 08:31 AM

If they really do want to disguise themselves, blue doesn't work anywhere near as well as black - but that probably doesn't matter these days, and the blue is a good match for their kit, so it does look right.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Modette
Date: 04 May 21 - 09:04 AM

Here's a letter from today's 'Guardian' letter page.

Morris dancers and the origins of blackface


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Jos
Date: 04 May 21 - 10:07 AM

From the Guardian's article:
"an onlooker’s comment makes it clear that it results from the influence of blackface minstrelsy"

But we are not told what it was that the onlooker said.

It is quite likely that all the onlooker's comment made clear was that the onlooker thought it resulted from the influence of blackface minstrelsy.

The onlooker could well have been mistaken.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 04 May 21 - 10:49 AM

This article reads as "I think this, and so I shall say "Obviously" to cloud the reasoning".

Robin


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Modette
Date: 04 May 21 - 11:37 AM

It is a letter published in today's newspaper, The Guardian, NOT an article!


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Megan L
Date: 04 May 21 - 12:00 PM

Living on a small island where everyone is so busy minding other peoples business instead of their own all they cause is trouble and heartbreak.

People need to stop shouting from the latest bandwagon to show how good and righteous they are and instead start treating those around them as fellow dwellers in the world and not a flag to be waved this week and changed to the next new thing next week.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Jos
Date: 04 May 21 - 12:41 PM

My apologies, Modette. It was a letter, but my comment remains the same.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 May 21 - 01:01 PM

I'm going to post the text of the letter, because I think it's a good one.
    It’s good to see that morris dancers have stopped blacking up (May Day morris dancers swap black face paint for blue over concerns of racism, 1 May), but it’s a shame to read the tired old nonsense implying that it’s associated with rural labourers blackening their faces to avoid being recognised while out begging. The earliest reference to morris dancing in England dates from 1448, but blacking up doesn’t become common until the mid-19th century. The earliest reference to blacking up in border morris is in 1855 and an onlooker’s comment makes it clear that it results from the influence of blackface minstrelsy.

    Other factors such as the use of banjos, minstrel lyrics in songs, oral histories and the use of the N-word make the link between minstrelsy and border morris irrefutable. To argue that blackface in morris is anything other than minstrelsy plays into the hands of those who complain that political correctness is ruining traditional English customs, as well as being bad history.
    Nicholas Wall
    London


Yes, it would be nice to see the "onlooker's comment," but the "other factors" cited by the letter writer are certainly credible. And in some ways, it does not matter whether or not blacking up has an innocent pedigree. Nowadays, it sends a message that is highly racist to a number of people, so it should be abandoned. Changing to blue or some other color seems to be a reasonable concession.

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2021/may/03/morris-dancers-and-the-origin-of-blackface


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 May 21 - 01:19 PM

any make up other than black brown or possibly yellow, has to be as effective as disguise and is not going to give offence,
when i first got involved in watching morris dancing 1962?
i noticed hardly any blacked up morris sides, the majority were cotswold morris. i believe that was thaxted in 1962.
Anyway, i prefer to watch the skill of dancers rather than be concerned about the loss of morris sides in a particular coloured disguise


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Jos
Date: 04 May 21 - 01:21 PM

I've never heard a Morris dancer, Border or not, use the N-word, and I can't recall ever hearing them sing Minstrel lyrics. Admittedly some do play banjos but that is not a reason to accuse them of racism.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 04 May 21 - 02:35 PM

I have never heard "Minstrel lyrics" sung by Morris dancers. I have heard them sung by many other people not in the folk world, including on the BBC.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 May 21 - 04:14 PM

i have heard stephen foster songs sung in folk clubs ..hard times come again no more. gentle annie. Steve Turner used to sing a couple generally really good tunes
He wrote more than 200 songs, including "Oh! Susanna", "Hard Times Come Again No More", "Camptown Races", "Old Folks at Home" ("Swanee River"), "My Old Kentucky Home", "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair", "Old Black Joe", and "Beautiful Dreame
of course banks of the sacremento shanty is a roster tune


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 05 May 21 - 05:42 AM

Joe said
> And in some ways, it does not matter whether or not blacking up has an innocent pedigree. Nowadays, it sends a message that is highly racist to a number of people, so it should be abandoned.

Unfortunately some people perceive supposed racist implications in the most unlikely places. A glaring example a few years ago was when someone was (allegedly) forced to apologise for using the word "niggardly" because of its slight resemblance to another word. Another is extreme sensitivity to the word "black" in contexts where it has nothing at all to do with anyone's skin.

I do not dispute the continuing prevalance of racism, but imagining it where it does not actually exist can be counter-productive.

Turning to "Minstrel lyrics"; Robin may not have met them in asociation with morris dancing, but one ditty sung to accompany morris dancing in fairly recent times probably had come from blackface minstreslsy, as its first line includes the infamous N-word.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Jos
Date: 05 May 21 - 07:30 AM

To sing a song containing the N-word would be insensitive, I agree - even if some black people use the word themselves. Some in the audience could be upset by it.
And it would be just as insensitive if the singers or dancers were not blacked up.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 05 May 21 - 07:48 AM

I did comment on th eearlier discussion that I have gave up using face black during the Pace Egg Play because I was uncomfortable with it. I have thought more and I now do tend to agree with those who link it to Minstralry. While I don't think there is a direct connectsion, if it is true that blacking up in morris was not recorded until the mid 1800s it does seem that there is some sort of link. Maybe before that blacking up was dome using burnt cork, soot or any of the other blackening substances that were available. These would give a streaky or blotchy appearance that could not be mistaken for black face.

Anyhow - If it does give offence to anyone and there is no need for it - Why not move on? I find patterns and colours far more effective than the solid black face anyway.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 May 21 - 07:54 AM

lets move on, what about prince charles illegitimate son, dorante day


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 05 May 21 - 08:10 AM

Clearly people with nothing to do will object to anything, and it gets worse every day.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 05 May 21 - 01:56 PM

Just as the discussion had a line drawn across it last year (mine was the last post not deleted) I was going to point out that the choice of the Subject line for the thread, using a word never used by the morris community, was not only provocative in itself but encouraged search engines to link morris with minstrelsy. The effect faded after a month or so.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: RTim
Date: 05 May 21 - 03:12 PM

Time!! - Time to call Time....

Tim R.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 05 May 21 - 03:29 PM

Blackface...???

It's difficult enough maintaining a straightface while reading a second wave of the usual expected "not us Guv, we're innocent"
barefaced denials and rationalizations...

Gotta love trad folk twofaced facade of civility...

To write some of these excuses and believe ordinary sensible will folks will swallow such guff..
.. well, our more vociferous blackface tradition apologists might need to be s***faced...!!!???

So how many of you would be bravefaced enough
to defiantly wind-up us interfering 'woke lefty liberal snowflakes'
by calling your side Blacky McBlackface....??????

.. and damn the consequences...

At least some of us might then have more respect for your honesty...


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 05 May 21 - 04:49 PM

Oy...

Assuming blackface minstrelsy was defacto racism is not history.

Minstrelsy's most successful sub-genre, the Tom Show (Uncle Tom's Cabin,) was abolitionist, lefty, fellow traveller, 'wokism'... in burnt cork blackface.

The medium was Anglo-American entertainment's TV and radio for over a century. You're saying the producers, artists and audiences had no politics of their own, just yours... or you don't care.

Assuming all or no blackface Morris dancers are/is racist are both ways of avoiding thinking. It's easier marketing, but let's not mistake it for good social skills or research practice.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,Jiggers
Date: 06 May 21 - 03:38 AM

this has been interesting reading. I think Boss Morris, from what I can tell, ( having never met them at all ! ), may have adapted a more flexible approach to the Morris tradition.

I am also reminded of the Chumbawumba lyric on continual strict replication of music according to how it 'should' be played ... 'that's not music, that's a pickle'. Album ABCDEFG, song name Pickle.

Am glad the morris groups have found a flexible way forward and have not been pickled.


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Subject: RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 06 May 21 - 06:01 AM

Happily we are close to references to blackface Morris being entirely past-tense. That thing people used to do.
So the defences of it are near-irrelevant, the whining of tiny gnats. Bacup Nutters are carrying on, but only in their own backyard, to fewer and fewer people.


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