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Calling time on Blackface Morris

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DMcG 04 Jul 20 - 03:12 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 04 Jul 20 - 03:53 AM
DMcG 04 Jul 20 - 04:36 AM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 04 Jul 20 - 05:02 AM
Dave Hanson 04 Jul 20 - 05:16 AM
Dave Hanson 04 Jul 20 - 05:18 AM
Senoufou 04 Jul 20 - 05:56 AM
JHW 04 Jul 20 - 06:25 AM
Jos 04 Jul 20 - 06:42 AM
John MacKenzie 04 Jul 20 - 07:17 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 04 Jul 20 - 07:25 AM
Captain Swing 04 Jul 20 - 08:22 AM
GUEST,Exile 04 Jul 20 - 08:23 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 04 Jul 20 - 08:27 AM
treewind 04 Jul 20 - 08:55 AM
Howard Jones 04 Jul 20 - 10:03 AM
Bonzo3legs 04 Jul 20 - 10:12 AM
Joe G 04 Jul 20 - 10:32 AM
Captain Swing 04 Jul 20 - 10:41 AM
Raedwulf 04 Jul 20 - 11:02 AM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 04 Jul 20 - 11:08 AM
punkfolkrocker 04 Jul 20 - 11:09 AM
GUEST 04 Jul 20 - 11:19 AM
Raedwulf 04 Jul 20 - 11:30 AM
Mo the caller 04 Jul 20 - 11:55 AM
Joe G 04 Jul 20 - 11:56 AM
Joe G 04 Jul 20 - 11:58 AM
Joe G 04 Jul 20 - 12:00 PM
John MacKenzie 04 Jul 20 - 12:05 PM
Captain Swing 04 Jul 20 - 12:19 PM
Joe G 04 Jul 20 - 12:24 PM
punkfolkrocker 04 Jul 20 - 12:26 PM
Dave the Gnome 04 Jul 20 - 12:46 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Jul 20 - 12:48 PM
Joe G 04 Jul 20 - 12:51 PM
Senoufou 04 Jul 20 - 12:51 PM
Senoufou 04 Jul 20 - 12:57 PM
Joe G 04 Jul 20 - 01:01 PM
punkfolkrocker 04 Jul 20 - 01:03 PM
Snuffy 04 Jul 20 - 01:28 PM
Dave the Gnome 04 Jul 20 - 01:39 PM
Senoufou 04 Jul 20 - 01:42 PM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 04 Jul 20 - 02:05 PM
Jos 04 Jul 20 - 02:17 PM
Dave the Gnome 04 Jul 20 - 02:51 PM
punkfolkrocker 04 Jul 20 - 03:17 PM
DMcG 04 Jul 20 - 05:10 PM
Bonzo3legs 04 Jul 20 - 05:24 PM
G-Force 04 Jul 20 - 05:37 PM
Joe G 04 Jul 20 - 05:46 PM
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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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