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Padstow Darkie Days

Cats 24 Feb 05 - 01:37 PM
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Subject: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Cats
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 01:37 PM

It has been confirmed today that the police took film footage of Padstow's 'Darkie Days' on Boxing day and have submitted it to the Crown Prosecution Service. On Darkie Days the local people in Padstow, as in so many other places across the UK and beyond, black up and go Guising. Quite a bit of money is raised for local charities and everyone has a good day out. It is very low key, when compared to May Day, and has been going on for hundreds of years. Apparantley it is to do with 'public disorder'. Two or three years ago Bernie Grant MP tried to get it stopped as he considered 'blacking up' was racist. It was pointed out to him that in many African countries people 'white up' to go guising or its equivalent. If this is upheld then the logical next step is that any blacked face dancer, mummer or guiser is also breaking the law. It could be the end of Molly teams, Bacup Coconut Dancers (whose dances are said to have their roots in Cornwall) and Border Morris. So, watch this space. As the story unfolds we'll keep you posted on its progress.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Tobyjug
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 01:57 PM

Is this the sharp edge of Political Correctness being wielded again?

I thought Maggie Thatcher (sorry Lady Thatcher) put an end to this when she managed to get closed-shop trade unions banned. Or did she just start the rot?

Seems to me this could be a much more serious attack on the sovereignty of the British way of life being waged from within, rather than anything Europe can throw at Britain.

We may need to take the defence of British traditions to the highest court.
Perhaps there are some sensible supporters of ancient traditions in the CPS after all.

Do the police have nothing better to do in Padstow at Christmas time? It must be very crime-free down in Cornwall. No drunken drivers, Christmas tree thieves and the like.

Lets hope that this is an April fool joke that came out early.
Or will April fooling be consigned to the scrap heap of history too?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 02:00 PM

Hmmm. I'd like to know more about this celebration and the way people react to it. I don't think people would dare go blackface in the U.S. nowadays. Since the 1960's, it's been considered socially unacceptable. It was common in the 1950's and earlier. When I was a kid in Detroit in the 1950's, we'd blacken our faces with burnt cork and go trick-or-treating on Halloween as "bums." I was under ten at the time, and didn't think blackface had anything to do with black people - I thought it was from not shaving.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 02:30 PM

I understood that the custom of blacking faces is associated with disguise, especially in areas to do with mining, furnace workers etc.
BTW,d oes this mean the practice of soldiers darkening their faces will be banned, or will they have to use some acceptable colour? Purple? No, Imperial Rome. Orange? Whoops! Green? I'm sure that could upset conservationists or pagans or some such (no offence to anyone intended, if any taken it sort of proves the point!)


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Azizi
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 03:25 PM

I've been down this road before in this community and have no desire to go again.

But FWIW, I agree with Joe Offer.

Just because something is traditional, doesn't mean it has to continue forever.

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Azizi
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 03:28 PM

Point of clarification, the comments that Joe made that I agree with are:

"I don't think people would dare go blackface in the U.S. nowadays. Since the 1960's, it's been considered socially unacceptable. It was common in the 1950's and earlier."

The last comment in my preceding post is my own.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: wysiwyg
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 03:37 PM

Does "darkie" mean a person of color? If so, that's enough of a tipoff to me that this is not something that doesn't demean human beings-- both those who "black up" and those who are being mocked.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Peace
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 03:40 PM

Ditto Joe and Azizi.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 03:41 PM

'Two or three years ago Bernie Grant MP tried to get it stopped as he considered 'blacking up' was racist.'

The Caribbean Community is saddened by the passing on Sunday, 9 April, (2000) of Mr Bernie Grant, Member of Parliament for Tottenham, North London since 1987. Mr Grant, who died at the age of 56, was born in Guyana, and was one of the first three Black MPs in the House of Commons.

Would you black up and go into The West Indian Sports and Social Club, Moss Side, Manchester? Would you feel comfortable?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Hawker
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 04:58 PM

This is the same Bernie Grant who tried to get black bin bags banned as they were insulting to black people? where will it end? Am I to be offended by white swing bin liners? Does white sliced bread signify I am as thick as 2 slices? does whitewash mean I am dirty? what about whitebait - is this fish used to catch people like myself? What it means, as a tradition is that it is something from a time when this was acceptible, it is not intended to cause offense, and should be taken in that context. I cannot imagine the coconut dancers being whitened up!!!! What colour will they try to ban next? Flesh coloured plasters are worrying, whose flesh did they match it to? it wasnt mine!!!!! I'm much fairer skinned.
Political correctness is all well and good, but we are gouing to end up saying sugar and everyone knows we mean shit, to me that would be less acceptible and the historical meanings would be well and truly lost.
Lucy


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Cats
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 05:03 PM

I'm not having a go at anything Bernie Grant tried to do or did. All I am saying is that he tried to get black face darkie days and black faced traditions banned. In Cornwall, as in many other places across the country, and the world, there is a tradition of 'guising'. It comes from the word disguise and was when the working people covered their faces with soot or mine dust, or in some places masks, to go out to sing and dance in their communities and raise money. They went in disguise so their employers or masters would not recognise them. It is the same for any black faced morris or molly side. Faces were put into disguise so that they can't be recognised. Other sources say faces were covered to frighten away evil spirits. In Africa and in the Caribbean the people there have the same type of tradition when they cover their faces in white clay or mud so they cannot be recognised. The aboriginies have the same tradition, guising their faces so they won't be recognised. Blacking up or whiting up, it's all for the same reason. Right across the Eastern block countries there is also the same tradition that around Christmas and new year they blacken their faces and go in disguise so they won't be recognised. Hope this clarifies the reasons behind it. Wherever you are in the world you'll find something very much akin to guising.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,milk monitor
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 05:50 PM

this can't be true?

cats...is anything in the above link true? If so, Jeeze Louise do people still try and justify this?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Peace
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 05:56 PM

That's a joke, right? What complete and utter bullshit.

Thanks for posting, Milk Monitor.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: breezy
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 05:58 PM

Long live the traditions of towns such as Padstow.

When traditions die so do people's lives become less enriched.

Traditions do die out , but cannot and must not be stamped out.

BTW Where are these police when during the summer months youngsters need their presence to patrol their behaviour? In Newquay of course.


Hey! anyone have any burnt cork?

Dont Mummers have rights too?

Masks?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,milk monitor
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 06:02 PM

a href="http://www.truebrits.tv/darkie_trivia.html">and there's more...


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 06:03 PM

Instructions for "Boscastle Breakdown," with music, here: Boscastle


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Azizi
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 06:14 PM

breezy,

if you were a person of color, what would you think and feel about this tradition?

It's fifth year of the 21st century and I think that we still have a long way to go all of us before we Black and White and Asians and Native Americans and all of us human beings come together as one.

Do green beings who mean us harm have to come from out of space before we recognize and treat all Human beings with dignity and respect?

I know that 'Catters make jokey jokes about William Shatner. But I wish that he and Spock [maybe especially Spock] and Uhuru were real. And I wish that Scotty would beam them down to share their wisdom with us..

But of course that's was just make believe...and sometimes what happens in real life is more fanciful than those situations that Capt. Kirk and his crew found himself in. But at least in those days it seems that people and [some]other beings got along..

Of course there's always the Klingons...


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Peace
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 06:34 PM

Al Jolson wouldn't be a 'hit' today, IMO. The times have changed--and it's about time they did.

Tell this man how much this 'tradition' counts.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Peace
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 06:38 PM

This crowd agrees with you, however. Keep the tradition alive.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 07:03 PM

I agree with everything cats says, but then I read they dress to impersonate American blacks and sing songs with "nigger" in them etc. This negates what Cats says.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Leadfingers
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 07:29 PM

The origins of 'Blacking Up' and guising dates back to the bad old days of the early industrial revolution and the beginnings of Trade unionism , when ordinary working men went out in Blackface to take the mickey out of 'The Gentry' and collect money . It has nothing to do with any form of racism , and any one who treats it as such is totally out of order !


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Peace
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 07:32 PM

It is today about racism. Read the post just above yours.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Chris Green
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 07:35 PM

If the tradition is about disguise, does it have be black you apply to your face? Surely any colour would do? Not trying to fan the flames or anything, just asking!


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 07:39 PM

who are they 'taking the mickey' out of with the afro wigs and ni**er songs then? can we stick to padstow please?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Peace
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 07:48 PM

Good question GUEST. I echo that.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,milk monitor
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 07:51 PM

Cheers Brucie..sorry that was me above (wouldn't ya know!)


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Azizi
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 09:02 PM

Cats, you said "In Africa and in the Caribbean the people there have the same type of tradition when they cover their faces in white clay or mud so they cannot be recognised."

While the use of white ashes or white paint might have been used to disguise a person, it might be well to ask the purpose of that disguise...

As a student of African cultures, I would submit to you that traditionally those people who wore masks did so to symbolize and become like [or become/be possessed by] ancestors, forces of nature, or divine beings.

If you are truly interested in this subject, you might want to visit any number of websites on mask traditions in Africa and elsehere.

One such site is http://cti.itc.virginia.edu/~bcr/African_Mask.html

See this quote from that site:

"African masks are dramatic portraits of spirit beings, departed ancestors, and invisible powers of social control. Each mask was made according to a traditional style, and each was worn by a trained performer. The African masks that hang on walls of Western art museums, detached from their full-body costumes, were originally part of whole performance ensembles, consisting of elaborately costumed dancers, vibrant music, and highly stylized dances. These complex ceremonial events expressed important social, religious, and moral values for the whole community. With careful attention to the masks' artistic and symbolic detail, it is possible to perceive these same values within the masks themselves..

Also, you might also want to read up on color symbolism in African cultures and other places in the world.

See this quote:

In the scheme of things, black, red and white tend to rule the arts and crafts of sub-Saharan Africa. They are followed by blue, yellow and orange. These are colors of mineral, animal and vegetable origin and thus easily accessible. Black can be seen everywhere since it is the skin color of most African peoples. Garnered from roots, seeds, charcoal and soot, it is also the color of the fertile earth and thus speaks of completeness and plenty. To achieve the rich black color of a cloth, the fabric is often dyed in fermented mud. Yet black is also associated with death, illness and uncertainty and has remained a powerful part of African shamanism.

    The color red, obtained from seeds, berries, stones and minerals, implies energy, vitality and joy, and the colors yellow, orange, violet and green are often considered a shade of red. White, traditionally meaning purity, also conjures up images of supernatural forces, danger and death and is carefully gleaned from limestone, plant ash and animal waste.

   In the adinka [kinte] cloth of the Ashanti in Ghana the white weave signifies purity and virtue; black indicates deep feelings of melancholy, the devil, death and old age; green means vitality and newness, gray blame and shame. Gold is the color of royalty and shades of yellow are likened to the fat of a luscious foul and the juice of a ripe pineapple All three suggest comfort and warmth.

   But the most meaningful and widely used color south of the Sahara is ochre. For more on African Color Symbolism

***
It may be possible that contemporary Africans use white paint to cover their faces as another form of disguise..borrowing perhaps from European traditions...

For instance, there is a widespread African American church mime tradition that I would perhaps date from the 1980s. White paint is used to cover the faces of these [usually youth female or male, but sometimes adult female troups. The performers also wear white gloves to cover their hands..IMO, this tradition is directly connected with European mime traditions. White paint is used to emphasize facial features and the color white here also symbolizes purity..

I'm far from a fan of this custom of white painted Black mime groups. However, for the record I wanted to mention this performance practice.

Hopefully, this is not seen as too far a thread drift from the subject being discussed...

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 12:30 AM

I could buy the theory that the blacking up was to represent sooty miners, mill workers, seeking anonymity from bosses, etc., were it not for the "nigger " songs and the term "darkie days."

Seamus


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 04:45 AM

I am truly torn on this one. On the one hand, many (most) of the comments from US catters are in fact judging the behaviour out of context: Britain, while far from having an integrated multicultural society, does not have the "rich" history of racial bigotry and persecution that America has. The connotations and context are different.

On the other hand, the Padstonians are reported to be singing songs about "niggers" etc, which again takes the "blacking" custom away from its original purpose (the working classes disguising themselves as "nobs" to take the mickey out of their bosses, and blacking their faces NOT to imitate people of another race, but as camouflage). The custom as it stands perverted today is indeed offensive.

But just before I condemn it, another thought creeps in. Back home (Greece), blacking one's face is used in local carnivals, remnants of pre-Christian, pagan times and customs such as the bacchanalia, to imitate not people of another race, but mythological creatures. This, in a society where until TV arrived most people had not seen a person of African or Caribean origin. A 2500+ year tradition, clearly unrelated to the 20th/21st century hangups. No songs about "niggers" there, no reference to Africa or slavery.

Would that be equally offensive today? Should those carnivals be banned because now we live in a multicultural world with many tourists visiting from other countries where such practices (in those other cultures, i.e. out of context) are damnable?

So, back to Padstow: Surely, what is offensive there is not the original custom, which is innocent of racism, but the way in which it is now enacted, with the curly wigs and "nigger" songs. So why not condemn this departure from the custom, and not the original custom itself?

I want to live and let live, and I am willing to adapt quite a lot in the interests of keeping my neighbour happy. But where does sensitivity end and oppression take over? We need to know where to draw the line between the two, otherwise we're only making a rod for our own backs.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Cats at Work
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 04:53 AM

Please don't get on at me! It is not personal. It's what is happening. I only posted this thread beacuse I thought that it would be of interest to those who dance in molly or border teams and mummers. The people of Padstow don't sing about n*****s or try to impersonate stereotypes of people from black or other ethnic minorities. It is about guising. If you go to Looe, Cawsand, Kingsand, Polperro , St Ives, Madron and a whole host of other places you will find the same guising tradition. They may not all cover their faces but dress in 'fancy dress' so they are disguised. (I went as a fairy once and someone bent my wand!!). Thanks Azizi for the detail on colour symbolism, I happen to know a fair bit about the tradition, but the point I was making was that putting on a disguise of whatever kind is inherent in cultures around the world. Yes, some masks take on the animal themselves but that is not what I was saying. Some masks are just to cover the face, to disguise. Also darkie comes from the dark days, the mid winter time when we go out to summon up the sun, it is nothing to do with the colour of peoples skin.

The whole point of this is the question.. is this the end of all black faced morris and molly and mummers? If it is, then, by the same argument, is it the end of any tradition where colour is put on the face to disguise in any country?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,milk monitor
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 05:46 AM

cats...honest, no one is 'geting on at you.' All we asked was what truth is in the report that was in the link I provided. Never having been to that festival, we can only ask someone (in this case yourself) if what was reported is a true account of what happens, or is the report ficticious?

The origins of guising are well documented, has Padstow incorporated it's own take on things, or did the writer of the report imagine the afro wigs and ni**er songs? As that particular report is part of a book on the subject.....details given in the link, it would be interesting to know.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,John Barden at work
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 05:56 AM

Where will this leave Rochester Sweeps Festival? The tradition there is Blackface, but it's all about Chimney Sweeps getting black from the soot. I'm sorry, I believe we need tolerance in this world right now, and jumping on peoples customs is intolerance. Why not pick on The British National Party? Now they really are racists and bigots, not these people in Padstow, or in Bacup, or in Rochester.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Azizi
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 07:05 AM

El Greko, you said

"Back home (Greece), blacking one's face is used in local carnivals, remnants of pre-Christian, pagan times and customs such as the bacchanalia, to imitate not people of another race, but mythological creatures. This, in a society where until TV arrived most people had not seen a person of African or Caribean origin. A 2500+ year tradition, clearly unrelated to the 20th/21st century hangups. No songs about "niggers" there, no reference to Africa or slavery."


I believe you when you say that people in your area may not have ever seen any person of African descent including any dark skinned person from the Caribbean...

Yet for the record-least others misunderstand what you are saying regarding ancient Greece-it should be noted that ancient Greeks had ALOT of contact with Africans...even to the extent of conferring group names from the Greek language on thse people - Ethiopian {Aethiops} and Afer, Indus and Maurus [all ancient equivalents of Aethiops}.

There are numerous Internet websites that provide documented information and not speculation or hyperbole about Africa's contribution to early Greek & Roman cultures-including in the visual arts and in the area of mythology..

I also would recommend reading "Blacks In Antiquity", Frank Snowden, Jr. Here is one excerpt from that book:

"Although blacks appeared in Mediterranean art outside of African as early as Minoan times, for a detailed study of the physical characteristics of certain types of Ethiopians by Greek artist a beginning should be made in the sixth century b.C. Starting with this century we have sufficeient representations of Negroes in enough detail to permit an accurate analysis of racial features, From the sixth century onwards until late in the Empirem for a period covering a span of nearly one thousand years, artists, using the Negro as a model in almost every medium and as a favortie of many, have bequeathed us a vlauable antrhopological gallery." {p. 23; Harvard University Press, 1970}

end of quote.

Finally, isn't it possible that over time there could be many layers of reasons for these widespread blackening up customs? Could the 'guising up' explanation in all its various permutations be a more modern way of explaining customs whose purposes may be hidden in antiquity? Isn't it possible that these 'guising' explanations are newer reasons for customs that may not be socially acceptable to people-Black White or otherwise-who are trying to value multi-culturalism?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 07:36 AM

Azizi, you asked "Finally, isn't it possible that over time there could be many layers of reasons for these widespread blackening up customs? Could the 'guising up' explanation in all its various permutations be a more modern way of explaining customs whose purposes may be hidden in antiquity? Isn't it possible that these 'guising' explanations are newer reasons for customs that may not be socially acceptable to people-Black White or otherwise-who are trying to value multi-culturalism?.

Hand on heart, I cannot either confirm or dispel your suspicions - at least, not worldwide. But I do know that in Byzantine times for example they used to black the faces of prostitutes using soot from the fireplace and parade them through the town; this in turn led to the "mountza" gesture (open palm thrust in the face of someone, as if you are going to black their face), which is just about the worst gesture one can make in Greece, worse than giving someone the bird even. And in turn this gave rise to the custom of dressing as "mountzouris" (dirty-face) at carnivals.

While there was contact with Africa from the ancient times, there had never been a sufficient number of Africans living there to give rise to racism - and they would have lived in the main towns only, anyway, so most Greeks would not have come into contact. There certainly is no reference to anti-African racism that I am aware of anywhere in the volumes of writings that we have from the 5th century BC onwards. So I contend that the background was not such as to create such customs for the purpose of denigrating anyone of African origin. I know for a fact, that if we suggested to any Greek that "mountzouris" has some sort of connection with racism, they would look at us as if we were crazy; because it simply does not enter their heads.

Not that Greeks are innocent of racism - but of a different sort, pointing more to neighbouring countries such as Turkey, and especially Albania, for more contemporary reasons linked to the high influx of Albanian refugees in the last 20-30 years and the crimewave that followed. But my own 86-year old parents not only love the Nigerian doctor that looks after them, they have become friends with his whole family. And my parents are in no way exceptional in that respect.

I for one, readily accept that the Rochester Sweeps Festival has everything to do with chimney sweeps and faces blacked by soot, and nothing to do with racism - bacause I know the history behind it.

The point I am making is that you do not know Greek society, or for that matter the British society, as much as you may think, and most of the sensitivity on this issue is borne out of experiences in your own society. One should therefore beware of judging one society by the standards of another one.

Otherwise, to repeat my earlier statement, where does normal sensitivity towards others stop and oppression begin?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: breezy
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 07:36 AM

I'll tolerate anything until it annoys me .

So therefore toleration is a matter of toleration.

I think El G is saying that before TV most Greek inhabitants had not seen black people, thats not to say that they were unknown.Certainly in rural areas I would think.

It was like that in Padstow until the 1970s. Most inhabitants never saw or came into contact with Black people.

In some parts of the british isles this is still the case today.

I guess they dont see many white faces in many parts of the world.

Or Euros in parts of Mongolia, yet alone Africans.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Azizi
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 08:43 AM

El Greko,
It is true that I have no direct knowledge of any culture but that of some parts of the USA.

Yet,isn't the Internet and, in particular international discussion sites like this one wonderfully rich way of learning about other cultures-from people who have lived and are living those cultures?

You said:
"While there was contact with Africa [in Greece] from the ancient times, there had never been a sufficient number of Africans living there to give rise to racism."

One way I could interprete this sentence-though I don't know that you meant it this way-is that a 'sufficient' or large number of Africans can or will [usually?? ; always??] give rise to racism or negative color valuations.

Instead, I would rather praise the ancient Greeks for not having any color prejudice because they recognized that such feelings were silly or ignorant and/or because they recognized the Humanity and the merits of Africans who they had met or heard of, and/or because of their recognition of the rich heritage that that Greek culture had received from African culture.

By African culture I specifically am referring to Egypt...After all "Egypt" IS in Africa, and many Egyptians in those ancient days were not as light brown skinned or fair skinned as they are now-and at one time Egypt was ruled by Sudanese-the name 'Sudan' meaning
'the land of the blacks'..

I would add the names of two other books on ancient Greece and Africa to the book that I suggested in my earlier post:

Frank M. Snowden, Jr "Before Color Prejudice" Harvard University Press, 1983

and

Ivan Van Sertima "African Presence In Early Europe" Transaction Pubishers 1988

For example of the African influence on early Greek culture, as a result of the 18th century & onward's white-washing of history, few people know about or accept etymological and other evidence of the Egyptian influence on the names and attributes of Greek gods and goddess.

See this excerpt from the Van Sertima book that I listed above:

"In the case of divine names [for Greek gods] Herodotos specifically stated "The names of nearly all the gods came to Greece from Egypt. {"Histories, II:49}. This statement was never challenged in Antiquity. It must further be emphasized that the only Greek divine names with plausible Indo-European names are Hestia and Zeus and even the later name has some phonetic problems.

In his book II Herodotos gives detals of many cultic parallels between the Greek and Egyptian religious systems and explicity reasons that as they [the religous systems]were far older in Egyp,
that must be their place of origin {II-49}. It is interesting to note that at the University of Oxford all books on Herodotos are required reading except for Book II. The situation is not so clear cut at Cambridge but there too Book II is omitted with some others".

end of quote..

I write these posts not for argument but for the sake of discussion..In doing so I readily acknowledge that I have merely read quite a number of books on the subject.

And -as I said before- I admit that have no direct knowledge of any cultures other than specific USA/American cultures.

However,I believe that arm chair students can contribute something worth while to discussions such as these.

Don't you agree?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,brucie
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 10:13 AM

Read Shirley Jackson's short story entitled "The Lottery". It too deals with tradition.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,brucie
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 10:14 AM

Link to "The Lottery".


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Ralphie
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 11:02 AM

Many Years ago, when I was a musician for "Paddington Pandemonic Express" Urban Molly dancers, we did a lunchtime stand at Covent Garden (London) on the day of the FA Cup final (UK Football).
The teams concerned that year were Liverpool (Red) and Everton (Blue).

We all had Blue faces....Guess which hostel we adjourned to for luchtime refreshment. Yes, you guessed it....One full of Liverpool supporters.

The sound of pins dropping was astonishing....To Quote...We got our coats!!

Regards Ralphie


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: CharlieA
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 11:36 AM

Basically the link provided is a pull your leg kind of link - have a read of some of the other traditions it mentions. Most of it is made up.

I lived about 2 miles from Padstow for many (18) years and i wouldn't see many of them calling themselves Padstownian!


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Pied Piper
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 11:46 AM

The basic assumption here seems to be that it must be racism because white people are involved. Unfortunately racism is fairly common amongst all people regardless of their physical characteristics.
There is no such thing as the black "race" or the white "race" or the whatever superficial distinguishing features you want to choose "race".
To illustrate the point, all the native people of sub-Saharan Africa have the black skin adaptation, yet there is more genetic diversity in these people than the rest of humanity put together. Nothing surprising here there have been modern people in Africa longer than anywhere else.

PP


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,milk monitor
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 11:47 AM

book review

Charlie the link I provided is actually an excerpt from a published book by JR DAESCHNER. He tries to analyse the origins of traditional events celebrated in UK.

He says it is his firsthand account of Padstow.

It looks like a made up site....but the above link is the Guardian's review of the book, and it is for sale at Amazon, amongst other places. I would still be interested if someone who has also attended that particular festival could refute his experiences?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: breezy
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 11:52 AM

Friday Chris Flegg at the Windward Folk Club at the Legion in St Albans

sunday night the Spotlight club George papavgeris   same venue


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 12:05 PM

You praise my ancestors too much, Azizi. Would that they were as enlightened as to resist racism; but they were not, sad to say. They "had it in" for the Persians big time, for a start. And when it came to marrying among citizens of different (Greek) city-states, it was as hard to accept as interracial marriages were 50 years ago in Europe. Neither were they above using slaves - all the major building work, Parthenon included, were built with slave labour. It's just that those slaves would have been mostly prisoners taken after some war and therefore mainly white or Middle Eastern, Etruscans, Phoenicians, Persians etc, or captured citizens of other Greek city-states. By the time Greeks fought in any numbers in Egypt or elsewhere in Africa, the practice of slave-taking had been discontinued (by my hero, Alexander) and then the Greeks were taken over by the Romans anyway.

The reason I mentioned the small numbers of Africans in Greece in ancient times (and really I am referring to the period 600BC-300AD or thereabouts) with respect to racism is this: Any prejudice has to have its object available in sufficient quantity, otherwise it does not manifest itself easily. There cannot be racist behaviours if there is nobody to be racist against. So it is not that the Greeks might not have become racist against Africans - they simply did not have the opportunity.

As for the influences from Egypt, and before that from India, they are undeniable, but moot in this context, because they do not point towards contact in sufficient numbers, just a natural result for a nation that depended on trading so much.

Brucie, good story. Such traditions deserve to die, no doubt - where individuals get hurt there can be no excuse. My question remains though: Where the slight is perceived but not intended, should a tradition be terminated? Where do we draw the line? What guideline should we follow?

I don't have the answer. And sure as hell, I don't want racism, and I believe nobody else on Mudcat wants it eiather, irrespective of political leanings. But unless we are very careful in drawing the line between sensitivity and oppression, we are doing nobody any good.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 12:14 PM

Sorry Azizi, did not answer your last question about armchair student being valuable contributors to a discussion - of course yes! I already learned much on Mudcat about my own religion from some contributors, and no doubt I can learn a thing or two about my ancestors from you too. And I welcome it. :-)

SO far, this is an excellent thread, addressing a real and relevant issue. (other than Breezy's advertising my gig on Sunday, that is!)


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Peace
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 12:35 PM

Does the term "darkie" have another meaning in Britain?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,milk monitor
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 12:46 PM

Brucie in the context of the festival I do not know what it is meant to mean. Or more importantly what it has become to mean.

However if you asked 1000 UK'ers what the word darkie means to them, you would be hard pushed to find anyone that didn't say it was an adjective used to describe anyone of dark skin colour. It was very popular amongst folk who probably thought it not as harsh as ni**er.

Don't know if a sit com called 'Til death us do part' crossed the pond, but it was immortalised by the character Alf Garnett.

It's use has died out in the main, although you do still very occasionally hear it, although I have only ever heard it from the older generation.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 01:29 PM

Guest, you bring up a good point. Here we have a word that was "hijacked" by racists in the 50's and 60's; the same word in the context of the Padstow custom refers not to colour of skin but to the "dark times", or so we are told (it makes sense, as the custom and its name predate the 50's by a few centuries). What to do? Throw out the custom because some bigots hijacked its name?

Similarly, in recent years the English flag has been hijacked by other bigots - the fascists and BNP sympathisers - to the point that ordinary English folks are wary of displaying their flag in case their feelings are misunderstood. Again - what to do?

My personal stance on both these cases is to defend the tradition and attack the offensive divergence from it. In other words, not to flush the baby along with the bathwater down the drain.

Any other reaction finds me asking "according to which guidelines?".

Take Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice. No two ways about it, Shylock is not shown in the best of lights in that otherwise wonderful play; this reflects the ethos of the times, and - perhaps - some bigotry too. But we have not banned the play as racist.

So, why ban the Padstow custom (in its original state, cleaned up from any unsavoury latter-day additions such as songs about "niggers"), yet keep the play? What guideline do we use for this?

Or - do we ban both regardless? I contend that this is the road to Big Brother; because if we do not draw some sensible line somewhere, there is nothing to stop us from

- banning Christianity because is was Christians that perpetrated the crimes in the recent Iraq war
- banning the singing of national anthems because the Extreme Right uses them
- banning the story of Red Riding Hood because it is inhumane towards animals (what with the disembowelling etc)
- banning nativity plays at school because they might offend members of other religions (ah, sorry, this has already happened - in Autralia, that bastion of Political Correctness)

I am not making light of the issue, using the examples above. Just giving a taste of what can happen when anyone has unlimited power - even the Political Correctness Brigade. We need some criterion/guideline, otherwise "that way lies madness".


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,milk monitor
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 01:44 PM

My personal stance on both these cases is to defend the tradition and attack the offensive divergence from it.

That sounds ideal el greko. But the first step towards achieving that would need those who want these traditions upheld, to admit there may be a divergence. And then examine their reasons for not wanting it challenged.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 02:03 PM

Looking into the history, it seems that blackface minstrelsy was grafted onto guising, or mummery, in mid-19th c. or later, to create a regional variation. The word darky (darkey, darkie) (OED) may mean a type of lantern, night, or a Negro or blacky- the last not found in print until mid-19th c. As milk monitor notes, its use is dying out.
Expunging the minstrel addition should not destroy guising or charitable efforts associated with it.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 02:12 PM

Agree with you GUEST,milk monitor. And in the same spirit of examination of divergence, Q's suggestion makes sense too.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 02:17 PM

then I read they dress to impersonate American blacks and sing songs with "nigger" in them etc.

On that joke site that milk monitor gave us a link to? Don't believe everything you read, especially on the Internet. And don't take as Gospel truth everything comic writers write in books either

We've got the makings of a moral panic on the basis of pretty inadequate information, and some very lazy reporting. Since we haven't had any links to the story itself, here a link to the BBC for a version.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,milk monitor
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 02:21 PM

Mc G please see my post of 11.47am. It isn't a joke site, it is just designed in the same way that the book is published, kind of cartoony. I thought it was a joke site first too.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Billy Weeks
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 02:38 PM

No one seems to have challenged Hawker's assertion that Bernie Grant tried to get black bin bags banned, so I'll do it. Where did you hear this story Hawker? Were you there when he said it? Or do you know somebody who knows somebody who knows it to be absolutely true? Or do you believe and pass on every urban myth put about by the Daily Mail or the BNP?

An intelligent man like Bernie Grant would never have done anything so stupid and I would like to give Hawker the credit for being credulous rather than stupid or malicious.

Persuade me, Hawker.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Villan
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 02:45 PM

I have just been down to our local indian restuarant, and read todays newspaper covering this event. It seems that it was to honour the slaves etc etc.

I asked 2 of the waiters who are from India. if the photo's in the newspaper offended them. They said it didn't becuase it was folklore, and they could see the difference between our traditon and people who were offensively rascist.

It is really getting out of hand.

There is a big difference between people who are offensive to foriengners and hurl rascial abuse in comparison to Morris Dancers who keep our folk lore alive. I would not support anything that was offensive wher it was meant.

I think sometimes we need to lighten up.

Incidentally I have been to west indian parties when I lived in Birmingham and was invited by west Indian friends, and only my mate and me were white. They all thought we were the police and there to bust them. When they realised we were friends they were very nice and we had quite a few great parties. Do they know how to party.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,milk monitor
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 02:53 PM

I think sometimes we need to lighten up.........ah thanks villan that line is priceless and unintentionally funny, in the context of this discussion. :)

I also think we sometimes need to examine whether our ignorance can be percieved as racist, albeit unintentionally. Two waiters at an Indian restaurant do not a race make?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Bentley
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 03:02 PM

What does that make Al Jolson.He wasn't a rascist was he.? PC gone mad I call it. Did anyone read about the school in Norwich and the kids snowball fight? They had to be 65 feet apart! The world is going bananas!


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 03:03 PM

I did read your later post, milk monitor - it depends what you mean by "joke site". I'd say it was a joke site, tied in with a joke book, written with the intention of amusing, and not necessarily too reliable. Not even intended to be read as reliable.

And that stuff about the "black bags van" is part of the same kind of spin as the stuff about "don't ask for black coffee", and the "EEC bans bananas that are bent" and so forth.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,milk monitor
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 03:14 PM

Mc G I agree it was certainly written as an amusing book. But I don't see why that means the author's account of what he witnessed at Padstow is to be deemed unreliable.

According to the Guardian review he is quite enamoured with the traditions he saw upheld in other parts of the country. I wouldn't dismiss out of hand his eye witness account of one aspect of one festival, because it paints a picture that isn't palatable.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,Hugh Jampton
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 03:15 PM

For goodness sake, please regard it as television. If you do not appreciate or like what we have been doing in these islands for years then go to your off switch and enjoy something else.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Villan
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 03:40 PM

It strikes me the world is going mad. Whats wrong with you Milk Monitor?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Peace
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 03:46 PM

Yo, Villan.

MM is asking the same questions I am.

What's wrong with me? I am an irritating SOB who wants to know more about this stuff. Hope you're keeping well.

Bruce M


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 05:51 PM

I sense tensions rising, so can I just ask that we keep our cool. The discussion has been very good until now, let's keep it going the same way.

Les, I have no problem with MM's/Brucie's questions; we have to accept that to them, without the British cultural background, it appears more damning than you or I might see it.

And in any case - the court is out as to whether there have been unsavoury departures from the original custom. No doubt the tapes will show any singing of racist songs (or not as the case might be).

What I find amazing is that despite my having asked the question three times so far, nobody has responded to it yet; so I'll ask it again - where do we draw the line? I refer you to my post of 1:29 PM.

I am not being rhetorical or sarcastic. But...(yet another example)
-will we one day have to stop using the expression "yellow press" for fear of appearing racist?

Where does it stop? At what point do we say to those offended "you are being oversensitive, it has not been the intention to offend you, the backround to XXXXX practice has historical, non-racist reasons"?

Otherwise, I might want the French to change their language - because "Grec" has been a synonym of "thief" from way back. Not meant this way today of course. Should I be offended? Am I undersensitive?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 06:06 PM

I have a part every year in a Lancashire Pace Egg play. It's like a mumming play but specifically done at Easter. We black our faces. It has been done in and around Lancashire for many hundreds of years and seems to have connections to the crusades. It's a play about St George and includes characters like the Black prince of Paradyne (Born of high renown) and Hector (the knight) and Bold Slasher , the doctor , old Bold Ben etc etc.

It is simply an easter revival play and absolutely no reference is made to race or skin colour (The Black Prince of Paradyne refers to him being black of character not skin colour) although there is a character called the King of Egypt no reference is made to his race apart from the calling on line of "I am the King of Egypt" , in fact no real mention is made of Easter apart from a recurring line "before I am three days old". The only possible offensive line could be the King of Egypt saying "Oh cursed Christian , what is this thou hast done" For you to ask us to remove the face paint (or make it blue or green) would stop an old tradition in it's tracks. Yes we have done it at Machester and Lancaster universities as part of a street theatre workshop , if you know the geography of Manchester then you know the university is minutes walk from Moss Side a predominately Afro-Carribean cultural area.

To be accused of being racist for pursuing a centuries old local tradition is extremely offensive to me.

Spot the Dog


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,steven
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 06:11 PM

Padstow darkie days and the big Oss, are nothing to do with racism, people should grow up and stop being so precious about twaddle.
Racism is hating somebody for something they cant change i.e their colour
The Padstow DD is a lot of fun, if you dont like it dont turn up.
Racism is rife in DARFUR RWANDA ZIMBABWE AND THE OLD EASTERN BLOC STATES
bugger off there and spout tosh at them see how far you get.
Idiots and the narrow minded have fouled up Britain for too long , if you want to do something about racism go to any of the venues mentioned in capitals and have a meaningful discussion with those bastards
Hands off Cornwall and the bits of Britain that aren't ruined


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Hawker
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 06:45 PM

Billy Weeks,
I only repeat what I heard on the radio. granted it was a few years ago and I found it so incredulously stupid I remembered who said it and what he reportedly said. I stand corrected if he did not say it. For the record, I am NOT racist in any way, I was born in Nigeria and was brought into this world as a white person in a black mans world. I have every respect for every man whatever colour or creed, but an intolerance of crass stupidity. I hold my hand up as crassly stupid if the story was untrue, but ask, it this perhaps, an example that maybe we should not believe all that is reported in the paper, on the radio or on the internet............. I am also a traditionalist and am sure there are many traditions in other countries which may be construed as offensive to me and my beliefs, but I would not want to stop them from carrying them out, what I would want to do is learn about them and their origins, after all we white people have been responsible through history for some pretty nasty things. I think tolerance is what is required, Man has become so intolerant of fellow man - lets all just try to understand each other.
Lucy


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Hawker
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 06:53 PM

A thought has just occurred to me. At Sidmouth Festival a couple of years ago, i was in the middle bar and an (forgive me, what do I say without causing offense!!!) afro carribean morris man walked in - my GOD he had a fine voice too, what does he feel about blacking up - I think he was in a cotswold side, so his team didn't but I am sure it wouldn't be offensive to him - does he visit this site? are you there oh fine singer of a Morris man? can we have your opinion if you are?
Lucy


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 06:58 PM

Stop showing your stupidity Lucy.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Cllr
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 07:05 PM

Hawker thats idris, who was at the reunion last weekend and was at wareham last september and will be at miskin in a few weeks. cllr


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Snuffy
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 07:13 PM

I think that was probably Idris Roker, Lucy. He's a Middle Bar regular with a fine repertoire of traditional English songs, and dances with Bathampton MM. He won the Doom Gloom and Despondency song competition last year (see here).

I don't think he's a Mudcat regular but you could contact him via Morticia, and just maybe he might be at Miskin


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Cllr
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 07:16 PM

Bernie Grant's call to ban the Padstow event was well publicised don't argue about - it check it on google.

Bernie Grant was also a critic of the police It didn't stop him pairing with the police federation representative to the house of commons Sir Michael Shersby MP. When I asked why he paired with such an outspoken critic of the police Michael said " well seeing as we both have to be there at the same time on the same issues it makes sense to pair" I think they got on despite being from different ends of the political spectrum and I learnt the lesson that just because you disagree with someone doesnt mean you can't respect them. Cllr


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Azizi
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 07:59 PM

I'm been away from a computer for most of the day, and have just read posts since earlier this morning.

And I feel a need to comment again about this subject..

I would like to first say that I knew nothing of the European custom of blackening before joining Mudcat 6 months ago. All of know about these customs I have learned from reading these posts, and reading links that have been given on this and other Mudcat threads, and reading one book on South African music that included a chapter on 19th century minstrelsy in Britain.

I acknowledge my lack of direct information, and like Brucie wrote upthread, I am trying to learn more about these customs.

I would, for instance, I would like to know the titles of other books and articles that discuss the past & present relationships between blackening up and the American minstrel traditions For surely such connections existed and appear to still exist, perhaps as new departures from old ways, and perhaps not..

I would also like to know if any studies have been done to assess the opinions of British people of color regarding blackening up. Futhermore, have any scholarly studies been done to assess the impact, if any, of blackening up on the self -esteem and group esteem of Black Britons and other British people of color? It just seems to me that this subject is too important to be relegated to anecdotal stories about whether a person's Black or Indian friends or acquaintances feel offended or do not feel offended by blackening up customs.

Also, it seems to me that people should be interested in whether there were any short term or long term consequences to Whites as a result of their participation in or general knowledge of these customs {for instance, are their differences between the racial attitudes and levels of multi-cultural acceptance of those who participate or do not participate in these customs?}

That being said, I acknowledge that I am very prone to be sceptical of assertions that 'darkie' refers to the dark days, or the only reason why black paint was used was as a disguise so that a worker's boss would not recognize him.. These seem to me to be more like contemporary, politically correct reasons for ancient customs whose original purposes may not ever be totally known-or whose members want to defray accusations [warranted or unwarranted of their insensitivity...

Note that I said "insensitivity" and not "racism"...

This is another time where it would be helpful if Mudcat had posters who are Black Britons and other people of color from Europe and from elsewhere. That being said, I believe this is a HUMAN issue irregarless of one's race.. The central question to me of blackening is what is most important: ancient traditions or treating people with dignity and respect. My concern is that people [individuals and specific groups of people]be treated with dignity and respect.
If, in my opinion, a tradition does not do that, then, as far as I'm concerned, to hell with the tradition.

And this too I believe-given the history of the United States, if private groups were to publicly perform such blackening disguises here, then lawsuits would be filed to halt that practice. And I would be glad about that [and might even initiate or join in such a law suit].

El Greko asked where do we draw the line..and I don't know the answer to that question. All I know is that blackening up is offensive to me whether it is done by [perhaps] well meaning White people or [perhaps] well meaning African Americans who are members of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Zulu kewe.

I accept the fact that some people here at Mudcat and elsewhere may feel that it is offensive of me to have this viewpoint.

I am willing to agree that we will not agree on this issue.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Compton
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 08:28 PM

Rather curiously, I heard on the radio (Four) tonight about 10.30pm, the Shrewsbury Police Choir singing "I wish I was in de land of cotton, etc"..Do you think someone should have filmed it and sent it to the D.P.P for vocally insulting race?
I think we should continue to be afraid, very afraid!


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Peace
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 12:06 AM

"Racism is rife in DARFUR RWANDA ZIMBABWE AND THE OLD EASTERN BLOC STATES bugger off there and spout tosh at them see how far you get.
Idiots and the narrow minded have fouled up Britain for too long , if you want to do something about racism go to any of the venues mentioned in capitals and have a meaningful discussion with those bastards"

OK. Now, back to the thread.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Villan
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 02:04 AM

Blimey my dad would have been in trouble today.

We had a cat called Blacky

He loved the Black and White minstrals

We used to eat jam where the glass had a picture of a gollywog on

Was he rascist?

Definately not. We didn't think of it that way, and we still don't.

My daughter has a black doll. Does that make her rascist. I think not.

I have played a lot of cricket in my days and played with all natiianalities. We have all taken the pi** out of each other but never got offended.

In fact it reminds me of the time when one of my cricket friends called Neville (who was black) and a smashing bloke, had a dance with a woman, and the next minute the husband of the woman started to attack him. It took about five of us whities to hold this bloke down so that he didn't hurt our mate. If we had been rascist we would have helped the Husband.

I work with people who have mental illnesses and one day this bloke who had done a job wrong, suddenly said "blimey I am going bonkers" we all laughed because it was so funny to hear him say that.
I wonder what would have happened if I had said it. I dread to think, with the wrong person listening.

It concerns me greatly when people pull you up for a saying something that is totally misconstrued by them.

The way we are going, even Max Bygraves Pink Toothbrush will be outlawed for being rascist.

Keep the traditions going I say.
Incidentally George good post of yours at 1:29pm


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 02:33 AM

I don't know if there are any studies on the effect of the self-esteem of black Britons of black-face customs but I would wager that that not enough people have encountered or heard of it to be a problem. On the Morris dance discussion list in the past few years there has been interest in the effect of C19 black-face minstrelsy on British customs and, irregardless of whether or not blacking up was done prior to this, it certainly did have it's effect - witness tunes such as 'Oh Susannah' and 'Camptown Races' being used for morris dances and the number of 'Old Joe' or 'Not for Joe' tunes in use.

I was disappointed to see the pictures. To me, they are portrayals of happy-go-lucky plantation workers and not just blacked up faces as part of a disguise to ward off evil spirits or to avoid being recognised by the authorities.

I'm sure, however, that the people of Padstow will modify their costumes over the years and retain the celebrations as they have done for the May celebrations.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Peace
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 02:37 AM

So, GUEST,steven: what does the word DARKIE mean to you?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,John F
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 04:54 AM

Villan what did you think of Bruce M's post of 3.46?
And what does the word DARKIE mean to you?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 05:04 AM

Hi Azizi,

Having a viewpoint cannot be offensive - it is your right. And I don't find your particular viewpoint offensive either - it is understandable, and I think we mostly agree anyway. Like you, I'm prepared to end up agreeing to disagree on the remaining few points, if necessary. But though "good enough" is good enough, there's nothing wrong with trying for "better", eh?

I wouldn't have posted so much on this thread if I did not feel strongly myself about retaining tradition (and it's not even "my" tradition we're talking about:-)), something the Brits do admirably well indeed, and I wish the Greeks had done the same. But what we are talking about goes beyond the Padstow custom, beyond keeping tradition even. This is a very important issue indeed, and it will come up again and again in other conversations.

You raise a very good question about any studies in Britain vis a vis blackening up and its impacts on Britsh people of colour. Unless we hear from someone in the coming days on this, I wouldn't mind taking it on to search for such studies (if they exist), and I have a couple of leads I could follow (there is a West Indian Justice of the Peace that will be accompanying me on steel drum in my next recording session in late summer for example), but it would take me some time (I only just made contact with him over email, we haven't met yet physically, so I don't want to barge in with such questions yet!). If I come up with anything, I will post it here.

Perhaps we need to increase our understanding (both sides of the argument), and education can help a lot there. That should ease the tension, as it helps explain to the "offended" in which cases offence is not meant by a custom and is unrelated, and so it will reduce over-sensitivity. While at the same time explaining to the "offender" how their well-meaning actions might offend. And then take a stronger line against bigotry - because it is the comparatively few bigots (and their abuse of customs, and freedoms) that drive the creation of prohibitive laws, in an ever-running cat-and-mouse attempt to pen them in.

But - and I am 100% convinced of that - we should not apply one society's rules to judge another; not without the education I mentioned above, which goes beyond learning the history of a people or speaking their language, and into the realm of understanding their thinking. Unfortunately, even in today's "enlightened" world of the Internet and easy international travel and holidays, we still commit serious "faux pas" where cultures cross.

I enjoyed our conversation very much. Perhaps we can slowly reduce our "difference of opinion" further - I 'd like to think that we can. And I'd like one day to call you by what you call yourself (the double word), and mean it as an honourary title, without needing to worry (as I do) about offending you...

White bro' George


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Billy Weeks
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 06:27 AM

Glad to hear from you again Harker and I fully accept that your comment had no intentional racist overtone. What I was warning - and continue to warn about is a widespread readiness to to be taken in by 'news' items put about by racist bigots and our covertly racist press. Asylum seekers get preferential treatment at our hospitals, don't they? And they get given cars, too - 'everybody' knows that. And Bernie Grant(or Ken Livingstone or the CRE)? Everybody knows the dreadful things they have done or said. We read about it everywhere so it must be true.

Trouble is that this stuff is easy to make up and bigots do just that. And any crap newspaper is hungry to give currency to a vicious story if they think they can get their readers to swallow it. Imho this is a more dangerous and despicable thing than any blacking up in Padstow.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Pied Piper
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 06:35 AM

Azizi points out that it would be impossible for white skinned people to "black up" in the US without it being considered racist and action taken. I'm shore this is true but take of the black paint and you can join the perfectly legal NAZI party, which is banned here in Europe.
I think we're talking planks and splinters here.

PP


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: sapper82
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 06:37 AM

And people wonder why the BNP are gaining so much ground in politics today.
The problems with atni-rascism in the UK is that it is too often seen to be anti-white, and anti-English.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Cats
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 07:17 AM

I thought you all might like to see a photo of this years Darkie Days as published in today's Western Morning News but on the website there is no photo, just one in the paper itself. The photo shows the Merrymakers wearing Cornwall rugby Shirts, tophats and bowler hats with tinsel around them, morning tail coats and jeans processing through the town. The Blacking on faces is exactly the same as you would have on any other mummers, black faced morris or molly side. Not a minstrel in sight! There are also comments from the Cornwall County Council, the Commission for Racial Equality and Council for Racial Equality in Cornwall who all categorically say they have made no complaint. The police sent ten police officers, three police vans and three more police with video cameras to the event on Boxing day. There were less than 20 Merrymakers! The songs they were singing were traditional Cornish folk songs - does this mean we can't sing Trelawney, Camborne Hill or the White Rose anymore?

It has also been pointed out to me, and I share this with you, that all over the west country there are hundreds of 'Darkie Lanes' or 'Darkie Streets' in villages and towns. It is a traditional name in the west country and has no racist overtones. Would they have to go too?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Villan
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 07:25 AM

John F
Its nice that as a guest you put your name there. :-)

Bearing in mind that I am interested in folklore and trying to keep traditions alive for our children and theirs, I do not consider Darkie to be about Black people as you would maybe consider it.

My understanding of Darky or Darkie in the folklore concept is as follows.

The term Darky or Darkie refers to people who black up their faces in disguise as part of Geese (pronounced geez) or guise dancing and is a tradition still carried out in Padstow.

There has been recent and erroneous linking with the "Black and White minstrels" and some unfounded concerns about racist overtones.

The origins of darkie day in fact go back a long way through generations of people disguising themselves so that they could get up to greater mischief back to a point in time where they may have had some significance in pagan ritual.

Whatever the background it has nothing to do with skin colour or the tradition would not have survived the vehement anti slave trade movement in Cornwall.

I personally feel that people are wrongly trying to attach a rascist theme to this.

Please bear in mind, that I am involved in folk music, not racism.

What I do object to is organisations like BNP attaching themselves to this sort of event, or people without the understanding, putting the wrong slant on things.

I see Morris dancing etc as tradition, not rascism.

As far as Brucie goes, he knows he can pm me if he is not happy with any comments I make and I can likewise.

I am more concerned with people who are taking this event out of context.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 07:28 AM

McGrath claims the "true brits" site (to which Milk Monitor gave a link near the top of the thread) is a joke. Or at best "not necessarily too reliable" (good example of qualifying an opinion to the point where it is absolutely meaningless). I read the entry about gurning at Egremont crab fair, which is a tradition I've been familiar with for years, and thought it was spot on. On that basis I am inclined to accept the report about Padstow. I am sure the racial elements were not invented, nor were inserted as a joke.

I still would not be in favour of any prosecution, because as I have said in other threads I support freedom of expression. Accordingly I don't like some aspects of the UK law; I think it is a mistake to prosecute people for what they say, as opposed to what they do, even if they are preaching British National Party filth, and I am outraged by the obscenity law and the intention to widen its scope rather than abolish it.

I'd just make one other point about something El Greko said: "Britain, while far from having an integrated multicultural society, does not have the "rich" history of racial bigotry and persecution that America has."

I suspect that this line of thought underpins a fair amount of UK thinking about attitudes to race in the US, but it is not entirely fair. The US is where many of the slaves traded in earlier centuries ended up, but Britain was at the heart of that trade and played a despicable part in it. Several UK cities owe their (now faded) grandeur to the wealth it created, Bristol probably being the worst example. Almost as bad as the trade itself has been the subsequent hypocrisy and the extent to which a shameful past has been airbrushed out of the histories of Britain and some of its cities.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,milk monitor
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 07:28 AM

For generations Padstow folk have taken the opportunity to "black up" and parade around the town and its pubs singing minstrel songs which, although well-known, have not lost their politically incorrect words which some people have described, along with the tradition itself, as racist. "

A direct quote from The Cornish Guardian. Sorry there's no link to this either. Maybe the confusion lies in Cornish people having differing views on the tradition?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Villan
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 07:39 AM

In my honest opiion this has been blown out of all proportions and the papers are only fuelling it.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Cats
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 07:40 AM

Perhaps it's that people weren't there and didn't see or hear what was going on? Perhaps it's because that's what it was like years ago and people haven't bothered to find out if that is what really is happening nowadays. It used to be like that, many years ago, but hasn't been for a very long time. Last year they had black and white faces - they were all painted with St Pirans flag, the Cornish Flag. The picture in WMN was from this years Dd and they had reporters and photographers there, other papers are still using archive pics. Perhaps it's just that puting inflammatory pics and text in sells newspapers?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,milk monitor
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 07:53 AM

The Cornish Guardian quote is ten months old, and as a local event they would cover the festival every year.

The True Brits report was from the festival that took place a year ago.

Maybe this year with the recent press coverage afforded to the event, more attention was paid to the elements that some folk found offensive. Only the film footage taken knows the answer to that one.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 07:57 AM

Peter K, you are right about Britain's role in the slave trade, and that role is no loger hushed up. In the last year along, the BBC aired at least two major documentaries on the subject.

But their role was mainly as trader, not user of slaves, and as a result comparatively few slaves were employed in Britain itself, and few ordinary Brits had an opportunity to consider their stance against a person of colour. So (according to a statement I made in an earlier posting about having the object of prejudice available in sufficient numbers), there had been comparatively few racist incidents in Britain itself throughout the 18th-19th century. At the same time in the US there were many more such incidents - simply because there were more people of colour around to "be racist against", and therefore more overt racist crimes were perpetrated in full view of the populace.

Britons found their own racism only in the 20th century, when there was more ample opportunity through immigration.

So my statement about the "rich history" stands, I think.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 08:00 AM

Er.. the above statements refer to colour racism of course - because there had been racism in Britain against the French, Spanish, Turks and Arabs from waaayy before that! Simply because those were the races they were most in contact with.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Azizi
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 08:43 AM

This will make the 7th time that I have posted to this thread.
And though I told myself that I wouldn't be posting again after my last comment {and after each other post], here I go again...

First off, I have enough words that I don't need people putting words in my mouth..[Meaning that I don't take kindly to people saying that I said something that I didn't say].

In NONE of my posts did I write that I consider the folks who blacken up to be racist. What I did say [and still believe] is that the custom is [though it may not have originally been] insensitive and offensive to me as an African American.

See this excerpt of my 25 Feb 05 - 07:59 PM post:
"That being said, I acknowledge that I am very prone to be sceptical of assertions that 'darkie' refers to the dark days, or the only reason why black paint was used was as a disguise so that a worker's boss would not recognize him.. These seem to me to be more like contemporary, politically correct reasons for ancient customs whose original purposes may not ever be totally known-or whose members want to defray accusations [warranted or unwarranted of their insensitivity...

Note that I said "insensitivity" and not "racism"..."
end of quote.

My ONLY mention of racism was when I took issue with an inference that could be made from a comment that El Greko wrote on 25 Feb 05 - 07:36 AM that racism is likely to occur when some citical number of Black people reside among mostly non-Black peoples.

The comment that El Greko made was:
"While there was contact with Africa from the ancient times, there had never been a sufficient number of Africans living there to give rise to racism - and they would have lived in the main towns only, anyway, so most Greeks would not have come into contact."

On 25 Feb 05 - 08:43 AM I wrote in response to this inference [which may or may not have been El Greko's intention}:

"Instead, I would rather praise the ancient Greeks for not having any color prejudice because they recognized that such feelings were silly or ignorant and/or because they recognized the Humanity and the merits of Africans who they had met or heard of, and/or because of their recognition of the rich heritage that that Greek culture had received from African culture".

end of quote

Note that I still did not use the word "racism".

I started my post to this thread agreeing with Joe Offer's post that "I don't think people would dare go blackface in the U.S. nowadays. Since the 1960's, it's been considered socially unacceptable. It was common in the 1950's and earlier."

My post on 25 Feb 05 - 07:59 PM reiterates this position and expands on it to say that in the United States public displays of blackening would probably be met with law suits.

Pied Piper, you said:

"Azizi points out that it would be impossible for white skinned people to "black up" in the US without it being considered racist and action taken"

Here's what I said:

"And this too I believe-given the history of the United States, if private groups were to publicly perform such blackening disguises here, then lawsuits would be filed to halt that practice. And I would be glad about that [and might even initiate or join in such a law suit]."

end of quote.

Again, I make no mention of racism.

In my posts I have consistently written that I find the practice of blakening up to be offensive to me. I have said that I would like moe information on the custom and in particular would be interested in reading about any studies made of it.

However, given what I have learned from reading this and other threads on blackening up, I have made my position clear that I believe that the contemporary practice of blackening up is counter productive to the goals of showing dignity and respect for all people.

I wrote that this was my position irrespective of whether White people went blackfaced or Black people did-and even gave an example of African Americans going blackfaced [the Mardi Gras Zulu kwewe].
If interested, posters here can google the words Mardi Gras Zulus to read about their history and African American reaction to it.

The crux of my position is so powerfully exemplified by Shirley Jackson's short story entitled "The Lottery" that Brucie provided a link to 25 Feb 05 - 10:13 AM.

I wrote that "If, in my opinion, a tradition does not do that [show dignity and respect for all people", then, as far as I'm concerned, to hell with the tradition."

I say this recognizing that there are many here who have good feelings about the ancient tradition of blackening up. I respect that you treasure this tradition, but that does not change my gut reaction of aversion to this practice which, I openly admit, was born and has been fed by my history and socialization as an African American.

All that being said, I would like to take this opportunity to send a special Shout Out and THANK YOU to Brucie and Milk Monitor.

I would also like to say to George {El Greko}, that if you mean 'sista sista' by your comment

"And I'd like one day to call you by what you call yourself (the double word), and mean it as an honourary title, without needing to worry (as I do) about offending you..."

then I would say this, although I really don't use 'sista sista' as a name, but have occasionally used it on Mudcat as a descriptive title -excluding my use of Sista in the Shane Diary posts as that character was certainly not meant to be taken seriously ;O))

I extend my right hand of fellowship to you George [and any others here and welcome you as a brother [or sister.]

I believe that people can disagree on certain points and still be friends [and part of the Mudcat family-and part of God's family].   

Peace,
Azizi


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 09:08 AM

Amen adelphi


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 09:28 AM

Few countries are as racially tolerant as Britain.
Things that would be offensive elsewhere may not be here.
A few years ago a thread discussed the use of the word pickinini, which is neutral here but regarded as massively offensive in US.
An African American should not try to judge our customs. You would have to immerse yourself in our culture first.
I would take notice if a member of a minority community had a problem with it.
It appears they do not.
Keith.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Cats
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 09:28 AM

Milk Monitor.. I'd love it if the local press covered local traditions every year, (note it is a tradition and NOT a festival. very few people even know about it here in Cornwall) but they don't. Until all this happened there has been hardly any mention and no pics in the papers for years, since Bernie Grant tried to stop it in 1998 when it was found not to be racist. The local press cover very few traditions with the exception of May Day and Flora which get coverage every year. Did you know about it? Do you know about the other Padstow traditions that are kept up each year? have you seen them in the paper? I haven't.

The Merrymakers took their own footage this year as soon as they realised it was being filmed by the police and channel 4 TV to be on the safe side. We all know what photos do, never lie but just wait until I get it on the computer!!! As an after thought, if it was so inflammatory and big news, why didn't Channel 4 news put it out?

Oh how I love to play devils advocate.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,milk monitor
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 09:48 AM

cats, I never called it 'inflammatory' or 'big news'. In fact I don't think it either.

What I did do was quote two reports that contradict your take on things. Attack is seldom the best form of defence.

You may 'enjoy playing devil's advocate', I hope you find someone to play with. Have a good day now.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Cats
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 01:42 PM

Milk Monitor, I wasn't quoting you or saying you had said it was inflammatory, I said if the news was inflammatory channel 4 would have shown it. Please don't think I was getting at you at all. All I am doing is putting up all the things that are being put out in the press down here. Every newspaper seems to be putting up the sensational side of it, which went when the songs and costumes changed, although alot of people still presume it hasn't changed. As I said in the beginning, my concern is for all the other black faced traditions we have in this country, if this goes through.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Peace
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 02:08 PM

Britain (England) officially got out of the slave trade in 1807 if memory serves me well.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Peace
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 02:17 PM

Sorry. I am confusing that date with something else. It began to end in the 1770s.

BM


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Villan
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 02:24 PM

A morris group that I know, have in actual fact resorted to blacking up in a slightly different way. They use black and yellow and it looks very effective. They do different pattens for each person. A bit like face painting.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,milk monitor
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 02:42 PM

cats, did you mean the UK national Channel Four TV Company? I have a very good friend who has worked within their news team.

He is currently abroad on an assignment, but due to return to the UK within a few weeks, I will ask him about their involvement in the filming and get back to you.

You state the costumes and songs have changed. Could you advise me when this change took place and why it took place? Thankyou.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: breezy
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 05:05 PM

My head hurts.

El Greko tomorrow at the legion

and we welcome you all to join , if you want.




Now listen up you Mudcatters outside the U K

Wales, played 3 won 3,we've killed off the french the italians and the english now only the Irish and Scots to beat up and Wales will rule again.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Peace
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 05:22 PM

Them's fightin' words, breezy.

(Is that about soccer, cricket, golf--WHAT?)


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Compton
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 08:42 PM

Brittania Coconut Dancers (Bacup) Easter Saturday...watch out, boys for (Folk) Police Cameras!!


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 08:50 PM

Although I see both sides of this, I think we're looking through different glasses. There is no way an American, particularly a black American whose attitude we all totally understand, can bring his value judgements to bear on Britain. We have different cultures. I travel to countries with different cultures and I try hard not to judge them by my country's history. Only a few sea miles from britain is France, A Republic that, for many Brits, is like another planet,for others, like Paradise. America and race relations go hand in hand, for those of us over here, it's all more subtle.
One of my great regrets is that almost no black people are ever seen at folk events, nowhere near the number that would represent their small percentage of the population even.Culturally there is very little mix and I regret this. Amongst musicians colour has never been an issue, but i'd love to see more black faces in the audiences and at festivals.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 08:59 PM

breezy runs a folk club? The sheer rudeness in his last post may help you understand why black people aren't seen. Hey breezy you did el greko a great dis service with that post.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 09:39 PM

cornish racism figures.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Cats
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 02:36 AM

Milk Monitor - One of the merrymakers has told me, no it's not me, that Channel 4 TV had a news crew there filming as they had been given a tip off that there was going to be a huge news story. Had there been then I'm sure that they would have run the story. The style of make up and words to songs which may have been deemed offensive were changed quite a few years ago because the people of Padstow didn't want to cause offence to anyone. Ziggy, the West Indian postman who lived in Padstow, used to go out with them and he saw nothing to cause offence. After the complaints by Bernie Grant the enquiry that ensued also found it not to be racist. The press are having a field day perpetuating the myth of how it used to be.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Villan
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 02:50 AM

Guest - why haven't you put your name on your post?

i think you have misread the situation regarding Breezy and El Greko.

They happen to be the best of mates.

This is exactly how things get taken out of hand. It would seem like you are calling Breezy a rascist. dear dear another example of somebody getting the wrong end of the stick.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Peace
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 02:55 AM

Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: breezy - PM
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 05:05 PM

"My head hurts.

El Greko tomorrow at the legion

and we welcome you all to join , if you want.




Now listen up you Mudcatters outside the U K

Wales, played 3 won 3,we've killed off the french the italians and the english now only the Irish and Scots to beat up and Wales will rule again."

That is breezy's last post. I fail to see how that can be considered rude? Hell, that must be the same guest fronm another thread.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 03:38 AM

Just to clear the air re Breezy:

He's a short hairy Welsh git (well, he went and had a haircut, so not so hairy now), full of energy despite his xx years (or was it xxx?), busks most days in hail and snow (even in the summer) collecting for the Leukaemia Busters charity (averages a couple of thousand pounds every year for them), a cracking performer especially when he gets passionate (the Welsh bit), and honourary Cornishman (lived there for many years, and still goes back every chance). Known variously as "the Padstow Harbour Busker", "the St Albans Busker", "the Mudcat Thread Hijacker", or "that annoying little p***" depending on your point of view. I Have no view on the last of those - literally.

He DID put in for Welsh Ambassador, but with the diplomacy gland removed at an early age, he stood no chance, so he runs the St Albans Windward and Spotlight folk clubs instead, in true democratic style similar to Attila the Hun. He is a tireless seeker for new talent, musically too, and promotes them shamelessly.

His reference to "played 3, won 3" refers to the Six Nations Rugby Challenge, where the Welsh have thrashed their opponents to date. "Kill" here is meant figuratively, I think.

And yes, he's a mate.
In the platonic sense, I hasten to add.
I may be Greek, but not THAT Greek...


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 03:40 AM

Did I say he's a mate?
(that'll be fifty quid, John)


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Villan
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 04:29 AM

I hope Breezy is still talking to you after all wat u sed George :-)

It's been a long time since he has been able to gloat about the Welsh Rugby team, so I suppose us English need to give him his hour of glory.

The hills are alive to the sound of Breezy :-)


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Cllr
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 05:01 AM

Breezy is performing at ampthill acoustic club on the 8th of March Thats AMPTHILL ACOUSTIC CLUB.
El grecko is performing there on the 17 May
and I am lucky enough to call both friend. Thay may call me something entirely different. Both have different nationalities- One is greek the other wales/cornish/planet breezy and as far as the rugby goes I support two teams England and anyone playing France. Cllr


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: My guru always said
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 06:01 AM

Well, I'm sure glad we cleared that up about Breezy - well said George, The Villan & Cllr!

Doesn't it just show how easy it is to misread stuff in black & white when you're:

a) emotional
b) tired
c) not sober
d) of different cultures
e) trying to put across your own opinion
f) not open-minded enough
g) a stranger to the person whose post you've just read
h) etc

Honestly, this thread has shocked me & also opened my eyes to the cultural differences between us. We all have our own baggage and this colours our judgements. Different culture & experiences equals different reactions.

These are hot topics touching our hearts, the horror of racism and the pride in traditions going back hundreds of year, some as far as pre-Christian Pagan times. There has been excellent input to this thread from both sides of the pond. Lets not lose track of our love for our fellow man!


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Cats
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 07:42 AM

Well said Guru.

Now onto serious matters... welsh rugby... YES!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,milk monitor
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 08:14 AM

cats, channel four could also have been there doing a harmless doc on Brit traditions. I'll see what I can find out for you.

If, as you say the songs and costumes have changed because some found them offensive, then you probably have more of an issue with your own local paper describing the event in the words I quoted above.As I said that quote is ten months old.

And also the recently published book, I put a link to, that reported on the event in the same vein. If that is the information being put out, and you disagree with it, challenge it with those putting it out, because it goes towards what you will be judged upon. Fairly or otherwise.

As to the rest of the posts, since our own, I think what had been a very interesting discussion was abruptly ended by those who had no interest in discussing. Why?

And I also agree that it was very rude and did no favours for those trying to uphold a tradition they clearly hold dear.

This is a worldwide forum, and as such not everybody knows or is interested in who breezy is, all they will take from his post is that his self importance made him think he had the right to jump in and call a halt to proceedings. Further supported by a few others who also had no interest/ability in discussion.

There was no need for it and all it showed was their own narrow mindedness. It is that very attitude that undermines your cause.

To those affected by racsim it is a serious issue. Those who ridicule the issue are part of the problem, not the solution.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Villan
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 08:45 AM

Nobody is ridiculing the Issue MM. As far as us folkies are concerned, morris dancing etc is related to tradition, not rascism.

You seem to be hell bent on trying to make it a rascist issue. I have yet to meet somebody in the folk world in the UK who is rascist. Can you tell me who they are?

Is the folk scene in America Rascist?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: breezy
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 08:57 AM

Hello El greko

I take it ,thats a No then?

Cheap at the price.

Thanks to all my friends here who yet again have come out on top.

werent all the slaves that went to the states from cornwall white prisoners who were 'transported 'for their crimes?

One story has emerged in song ,called 'Transportee' written by a Padstonian. To my knowledge Moses knows it well enough to perform.

Then if I maybe so bold as to point out that slaves were from many ethnic origins ans not exclusivly one race.

When was the last time the States played an international match against another country! It happens all the time here -and I'm talking sport -? perhaps they ought to get away more!! Come and visit us and experience our folk clubs and hear some really good writers of songs.

which reminds me that we have Britains leading greek singer songwriter appearing tonight at ....well you know all that anyway.

Now, who saw the tsunami comic show last night and what did you think about the closing act?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: breezy
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 09:06 AM

Les, wait your turn next time. Its not a race.

'Milk Monitor' , that name alone in some circles will be interpreted by some through word association as 'White Overseer' or some such.

Isnt that a daft thought?

While all the time you were a milk monitor when at school.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Villan
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 09:11 AM

:-)


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 09:14 AM

Villan, I don't know whether the Padstow Darkie Day business is based on morris dancing, or morris dancing gone wrong, or somethingelse entirely. But according to Cats, it was once overlaid with racist bells and whistles and now is not. Where and what is the traditional bit in all this?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: breezy
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 09:19 AM

*****
   /   \
G <> <> Q
   \ o /
    [o]
    *#*


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Villan
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 09:29 AM

Peter I put my comments earlier about what the event should be about. 26th feb 7:25am.
I wasn't there so I can't really comment on what the press has reported.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 10:47 AM

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2003/09/277884.html


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 11:35 AM

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cornwall/3665066.stm


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 11:46 AM

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,439681,00.html


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,WYSIWYG
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 11:54 AM

What I see here are a lot of good people trying to have a meaningful discussion in good faith, but it does not seem to be actually working.

A couple of observations:

1. All human beings are affected by racism, in direct and indirect ways. ("Affected by" and "targeted by" are not the same thing.)

2. Racism means many things to many people, and not everyone means the same thing by the word. It can mean discriminatory behavior, violence, discomfort, rekindled memories.... all sorts of things. Until one learns what it means to the one using the word, discussion (underneath the outer layer) is about... apples and machine oil! :~)

3. Respect for someone else's culture gets to be a tricky thing in a multi-cultural setting. We all have hot-buttons of one sort or another that make it hard to "hear" one another. Yet we yearn to understand one another, and to be understood, so we often rush ahead of the resources to actually DO it.

4. "Culture" is not a pure, pristine thing devoid of patterns of wrongness toward people of other cultures. It's a mix, and sometimes, a mess. We acquire it from people we love and respect. Taking out the things we decide, later, were wrong, is very hard to do, and it can't be forced on people except as regards behavior.

5. "Respect our UK traditions and culture" has as much value as "respect our US traditions and culture." Around Mudcat it has too frequently become the fashion to judge first, then attempt to sort out the cultural issues. The balance tips back and forth across the pond, usually with little or no undersanding being gained.

6. I have spotted as many as six separate and distinct on-topic conversations going on in this thread, with people responding to what one person has said as tho it were directed to one of the specific conversations in progress-- but usually it had been aimed at a different conversaton! The usual reaction seems to be, "I didn't mean that" or "I didn't say that" or "You don't understand." This defensivenss should not be a surprise in such loaded-with-distress topics.

7. In diffucult areas like this topic, it all often boils down to, "No-- YOU should have understood ME, MY hurts, MY fears, MY values." But once it gets difficult, usually no one is thinking differently! No one is listening to YOU, tending instead to listen to themselves.

8. It turns out that topics like this can be handled more effectively in PMs or email. Some of y'all might want to try it there, one on one. Another good place to handle them is in Chat, where whatever is misunderstood can be cleared up before the reaction gets too far away from one.


Just some things to think about. Not a judgment or a criticism. Just the stuff I see after years of working with groups that are trying to discuss hot topics.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 12:12 PM

what I see is a thread started by a post to a discussion forum. anyone who chooses to go off topic has the facility of pm's and email. anyone who wishes to reamin on topic has the thread. anybody uninterested can ignore the thread.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,WYSIWYG
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 12:30 PM

Yes, and that would be lovely, really. But that isn't how people actually TICK. They (we) react, and then misunderstanding abounds. I bet a lot of people here think they ARE on topic but actually, they are on a subtopic that's running amok.

I think it's a fear thing. In a discussion in person, I would ask each person to quietly name what it is they are afraid of in this topic, and I would ask the others to just listen, take it in, not repond, and share what THEY are afraid of. From there it would all be an entirely different discussion, but it still would be on the topic.

In an environment like a thread, tho, people tend not to get to that basic level first and work from there, but to start from the most outward layer. Then one wonders why it's not going well, as the inward stuff keeps cropping up in disguise.

Just something to consider. If anyone posting everyone in this thread picked ONE other person from it, to discuss some aspect via PM, I bet they both would come back with some very valuable insights about the topic.

I'm NOT saying "you should do this" or "this thread ought to be closed." I'm just saying, if the topic really interests anyone, there is an effective way to get at the issues and obtain some mutual understanding, and having done this myself on a number of occasions, I can recommend doing that.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 12:42 PM

i think the posts sent to derail this thread by not even assuming to have any relation to it speak volumes. they ended sensible debate and lost their casue in one foul swoop. give 'em enough rope and they can't fail to swing. i also doubt if anyone originally interested in the debate wishes to continue. their point of view has already been put across. and the responses recieved give them their answers.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 01:00 PM

Pay attention, people:
The United States of America is NOT the world. Other people have different customs.
Get used to it.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 01:33 PM

wysiwyg perhaps linking this thread to any decrying the demise of folk clubs in UK would be more suitable. :^))


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 05 - 02:57 PM

Who was that masked man?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Cats
Date: 28 Feb 05 - 02:44 AM

Peter - show me where I have said it was 'overlaid by racist bells and whistles'. Never. Please do not attribute to me something I have never said. What I did say was that some years ago it changed because they did not want to offend anyone.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Feb 05 - 04:19 AM

Cat's opening post 'Two or three years ago Bernie Grant MP tried to get it stopped as he considered 'blacking up' was racist.'

Bernie Grant died FIVE years ago.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Cllr
Date: 28 Feb 05 - 04:45 AM

yes and Grant got involved in it by calling for a ban in 1998 as I refereered to earlier don't believe me check on google its well documented. Trying to say that cats was wrong because her timing wasn't specific enough for you is is just pedentry.
I used to work for the the Crown Prosecution service on special cases which included among other things "incitment to racial hatred" all cases in Engalnd are dealt with in one office to assure a equality of treatment throughout the country (the same is true of "indecent publication")
I have been to padstow for the the may day celebration and while I ealise that does not make me an expert and I avoided getting involved in the debate specific because a lot of the points I would make have already been made.
Blacking up for guising mumers is not I repeat not Racist while dressing up as black men singing "polly wally doodle or whatever" is at best distatseful and worst Racist.
The issue in england is basically in Padstow mummery OR minstrals.

One thing I can catagorically say without a shadow of a doubt and no hesitation is that cats is not in any way shape or form, by act deed or thought, racist. Cllr


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Feb 05 - 05:08 AM

On Darkie Days the local people in Padstow, as in so many other places across the UK and beyond, black up and go Guising.

This issue is ONLY about Padstow. Cornwall has enough race issues without adding to them.

The style of make up and words to songs which may have been deemed offensive were changed quite a few years ago because the people of Padstow didn't want to cause offence to anyone.

Guising isn't what has caused the offence and media interest. Padstow's ignorance on what guising is meant to represent has done the damage. Independent reports from those with no vested interest in the tradion or axe to grind against it, do not support Cat's opinion that their make up and songs changed 'a few years ago'. (or does she mean Bernie Grant years?)

The police consulted with the organisers this year, before any filming took place. So the good people of Padstow had plenty of notice to ditch the afro wigs and ni**er songs. Why don't they accept their errors in good grace.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 28 Feb 05 - 05:49 AM

Cats, "bells and whistles" was my paraphrasing and was too strong, for which I'm sorry. Perhaps you could explain in what way the custom changed, and in what ways it might previously have been causing offence.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,Cats
Date: 28 Feb 05 - 05:57 AM

Thanks, Cllr. Those who know me know that I could never and would never support anything I considered to be racist in any way shape or form. I would be the first to stand up and try to get it stopped and have done in the past. If you look at everything I have said I have reported what is going on as I have concerns that, if it is events such as Rochester Sweeps could also be considered racist. It is something that we need to watch. I have never come down on one side or the other. I have tried to right some perpetuated myths. E.g. It is conveniently forgotten that the story, and it is a story as there is no truth in history to support it, of the people of Padstow seeing the slaves and blacked up was to help them escape by everyone blacking their faces and hiding the slaves amongst them! Now, if by saying that you think I am a racist then that is your problem and not mine.

Yes, I know that Cornwall is the third most racist county in the country behind Northumbria and Devon and I am trying to change it - and I am putting my name to it. At the launch of the policy document 2 weeks ago it was spelt out, in no uncertain terms, that the way to combat racism is to educate our children. That's what I am trying to do. Now, if you think that having Darkie Days is the whole reason behind the problem in Cornwall, which some 'guest' seems to imply by putting in the links to it, then you are way off the mark. Hardly anyone down here even knew about DD before it hit the press.

Now, I'll get on with doing my bit to combat racism, and I'll also get on with making sure all the rich traditions from all over the UK are not forgotten by the next generation - and that they understand their origins.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Feb 05 - 06:43 AM

So, to repeat Peter's question, what were the changes made to song and costume and why?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 28 Feb 05 - 07:27 AM

Like Spot earlier I appear in a Pace Egg Play every Easter - Same one in fact! We have had the discussion on that topic before. I am quite happy to defend that tradition but I am very unsure about Afro wigs and minstrel songs. I think I said in the thread on Mumming (AKA Pace Egg) that there was a world of difference between the UK style of Mumming and the potentialy offensive mimicry of the Black and White minstrel. The Padstow 'tradition' has got me wondering if that is always true.

I would not dream in a million years of wearing an Afro wig or singing 'de Camptown races' while I was in black face. I have no idea whether the people doing such things are racist or not. I must however agree with Azizi on this one. I seriously question the sensitivity, and possibly inteligence, of anyone who does don full minstrel 'guise' thinking that they will cause no offense. What is more the afro wig and minstrel song has nothing whatsoever to do with the tradition that pre-dates these affectations. Why on earth have th egood people of Padstow allowed this sort of nonsense to infiltrate there otherwise excelent piece of local colour? (Pun almost intended but withdrawn on grounds of taste:-) )

If this tradition has become a tastless piece of mimicry then yes, by all means put a stop to that side of it. But please don't tar all traditions with the same brush. (Sorry - bad taste pun again...)

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 28 Feb 05 - 07:40 AM

I would be more than interested to know whether the Padstow tradition started like the other Morris and Mumming traditions and then became 'hijacked' by the people wanting to act like Al Jolson? If so it is something we will have to watch for. Wonder if this happened in the US as well - Which is why the Mummers parade there has become the minstrel mimicry whereas the Mumming play here has not yet been infected?

Perhaps we have a Black and White minstrel virus travelling across the Atlantic? Wonder if Symatec know about it...

:D


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Doktor Doktor
Date: 28 Feb 05 - 08:55 AM

Anyone got a spare teacup?

Mines broken ...

....... appears to have suffered a localised hurricane ............


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Compton
Date: 28 Feb 05 - 09:00 AM

I think the crux of the matter is the (perhaps) unfortune title "darkie days!"..Putting on a black face, ergo; Border Morris, Coconut dance, Mummers Plays have no relevance to racism. It is and always was purely to disguise / "to be unrecognisable". all Padtoww have to do to escape the Racism Police is to (slightly) rethink the name of the day...then (almost) EVERYONE will be happy!


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Snuffy
Date: 28 Feb 05 - 09:41 AM

Almost all the traditional Mummers plays collected in and around Warwickshire seem to end with a minstrel song: Camptown Races, Old Bob Riddley and Not For Joe are the favourites. This is because they were collected in the late 19th or early 20th century, long after the minstrel craze had swept Britain. The old songs previously sung were simply swept away by the new craze.

We would love to sing the songs that pre-1840 mummers used to sing rather than sing the minstrel songs, but there is no evidence for us to go on. We have been looking for some possible mummers songs for a while now with no success.

In the meantime, for lack of anything more traditional, we are forced to stick to the songs given by the collectors. Can anyone help with old material?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Doktor Doktor
Date: 28 Feb 05 - 11:00 AM

Got nothing old - but our calling-on song is an adaption of the pace-egging song (if that helps)- see
http://www.beerfordbury.co.uk/BBTWTA/stgeorgetxt.htm
& http://www.folkplay.info/ for useful info & links. That nice Mr Shuttleworth might have some ideas ....


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: mg
Date: 28 Feb 05 - 09:42 PM

Here are my suggestions for the situation. I am in the US, so please feel free to make suggestions about any traditions we have here likewise, many of which we have had to revise etc. I think it is just one of those things where the origins are lost in history, no offense is meant, but yet....I would suggest some sort of committee be formed that communicates with various parties, and regardless of other suggestion, rename the event to something like "Padstow Olden Days" or something....anything..eliminate entirely any use of the word "n...", and change the blackface to other colors, purple, whatever, and inform the community of the reason for the changes. mg


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Shambles
Date: 01 Mar 05 - 03:29 AM

The Cornish wouldn't treat them any differently from any other outsiders. *Smiles*


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: breezy
Date: 01 Mar 05 - 04:28 AM

I know the Padstow people.

If you dont like it do let them know and they will tell you.

It is not good manners to talk behind peoples backs.

'Who do you think you are?' is the attitude it tends to engender.

And Sod off

There is absolutely nothing racist in the activities in Padstow and to imply such is to to cast a slur on a communty which is how divisions occur and maybe this thread was begun as a 'flamer'

The tunes that these good people play on their accordions and drums as they pass from pub to pub demanding money -with menaces i.e. give us money or we'll stay and play some more!! are well known, popular and now fairly recogniseable!!!

Its a close knit communty, rarely found these days and very protective and proud of their trads so outside interference is not always welcome, as they say.

Anyone moving to the area finds it very difficult to be accepted.

Do they need educating? or is it the way we all act.Is Padstow a microcosm. If you go into someones home you may not agree with what goes on so do keep yourself to yourself.

All decent Padstonians will heed and listen and no doubt will adapt.

At least they celebrate, share a communty spirit and have something to offer.

No slot machines in penny arcades there -yet, just overpriced retaurants.

May day this year will be celebrated not on the 1st , because it falls on a Sunday, therefore celebrations will take place on Monday 2nd May.

That fact says much for the respect of the town.

The day is for Padstonians many of whom return for the day, but visitors are always welcome.

Little Lise??? or Little Eyes. Why isnt it another Cornish Anthem!!!

Well it is now.

We all absorb influences from different cultures, I play a guitar.

Storm over? teas gone cold.

'Going to build a mountain'


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: IanC
Date: 01 Mar 05 - 04:29 AM

Snuffy

It's traditional for mummers to sing popular songs of the day, or slightly old ones. That's pretty much it, as far as I can ascertain. Traditional is often how you behave, rather than a particular song, I think.

:-)


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Snuffy
Date: 01 Mar 05 - 08:29 AM

Ian C

So would you recommend Britney or Gareth Gates? Or Franz Ferdinand? Or J-Lo?

But presumably not Whitey who's at #67 in the UK singles Chart this week. :>)


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Cats at Work
Date: 01 Mar 05 - 09:56 AM

This wasn't started as a 'flamer' but out of concern that a part of the tradition of the UK was under investigation.
The Merrymakers removed all words such as n****r many years ago, they only black their faces or put St Pirans cross on. Curly wigs..maybe, but the red or blue ones they wear on May 1st. As for the songs, it has all been said by others, not a racialy motivated song amongst them. Darkie is a very old westcountry word meaning the dark times, roads and streets that have been here for centuries are called Darkie Lane. As others have, so rightly, said, some people have put their own interpretation on them and made it something it is not.
see you on May day.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 01 Mar 05 - 07:41 PM

The Lancashire Pace Egg traditions have specific calling on songs. Ours goes.

We actors are the best of men that ere trod English ground

We never are faint hearted our voices are full sound

We never are faint hearted but boldly tell our tale

And if in time you like our rhyme

You may give us cakes and ale.

For drink and jovial company we prize above all gold.

This easter time We act our rhyme

And drink good ale and old

There are others in similar vein but I have never heard one that uses any form of minstrel song in their play.

I am not conversant with the mumming plays of Warwickshire.

Spot


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Snuffy
Date: 02 Mar 05 - 08:38 AM

Spot,

We're looking for songs at the end of the play, not the start. Most of ours start with Father Christmas bursting in "A room, a room, a roust, a doust" or similar. We do occasionally start using a version of the pace-egging song "We're 1-2-3 jolly lads, all in one mind..." using either the tradtional tune or Villikins.

Most Warwickshire plays seem to have ended with a song, but which song? It is either unspecified or a minstrel song. We want to find what they sang before the minstrel craze.

The Cotswold Shepherd's Song is well known round here, and indeed Blockley is one of our regular performance spots, but I've never previously heard of it being adapted to Mummers' use. Which play is that? Perhaps we could do something along those lines.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: IanC
Date: 02 Mar 05 - 09:50 AM

Snuffy

As I've said, they're usually popular songs (i.e. popular with the audience). The versions collected from Nottinghamshire mention, for example '"A Farmer's Boy" and other popular songs'. "A Farmer's Boy" is circa 1830. I haven't come across a great deal of mention of songs from "The Minstrel Craze", though they'd come under the category of popular songs.

Somewhere, I have a set of 3 songs as sung after the play from one of the Notts villages. I'll try and drag it out.

:-)


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 02 Mar 05 - 11:58 AM

Seeing as it's Christmas how about the Wren? I'm sure you could change "12th night is the last" to "This Mumming's the last" :-)

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 02 Mar 05 - 04:46 PM

Snuffy

The play is the now known as the Abram Pace Egg play. Essentially it is a composite of Lancashire Easter Pace Egg plays. Dave the Gnome has found an (almost) word for word script in a 19thC book on the Legends of lancashire (I can't remember the exact name of the book) that describes the play being done in a Manchester town centre pub. This play however is based on Christmas and even though the body of the script is almost identical , the calling on speech references Christmas

Eddie Cass writes that it "owes much to the chapbook traditions of Lancashire".

We end the play with your "we're 1-2-3 jolly boys all in one mind" etc.

Our play is only performed during the week before Easter and on Good Friday.

Sorry to all for thread creep but it's constructive thread creep.

Spot (A.K.A. Dave Wynn)


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Mar 05 - 06:19 PM

For what it's worth:

My step-daughter is black African. She's very aware of racial attitudes in the UK, having lived here more than a decade. She has seen Bacup and other blacked-up morris sides on numerous occasions, and thoroughly enjoys them because she clearly understands the traditions and the context. Early on as a young teenager she had a long conversation with one of the Bacup guys who explained the various historical theories behind this tradition - guising to prevent being recognised by bosses in the Industrial Revolution, dancing by sweeps or miners, warding off evil spirits - and when it came to the latter she immediately said "ah yes, we paint our faces white in traditions in my country to do that". Oh and she's actually rather amused by the "Moorish dancers" theory and wants to be one - though god knows what the Ring will make of a black female morrisperson.

When she saw the cutting from the Times last week about the Padstow situation, she was astonished and thought the whole idea that the tradition could be taken as racist was ridiculous and political correctness gone crazy.

. . . for what it's worth . . .


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Mar 05 - 06:26 PM

She should try living in the place.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 03 Mar 05 - 03:20 AM

I also think we sometimes need to examine whether our ignorance can be percieved as racist, albeit unintentionally.

I think we do. I also think that those who see this (ignorance or innocence) as being racist - should examine if this perception also stems from ignorance.

Somtimes it appears that more live bullets are fired at folk and practices where the cause of any possible offence to black people is largely unintentional - than are fired where the intention is overtly racist.

If the intention is for us all to move on and not turn those involved in what they may see as an innocent activity into racists - the approach to the activity in question should perhaps be proportionate and always informed?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: wysiwyg
Date: 03 Mar 05 - 02:01 PM

Easy to say what someone else "should" do, eh?

Racism, BTW is not limited to what people INTEND. Yes of course it's good to know what people intend, and it's good for people to intend good things, but racism has a way of snaking its way through our cultures all on its own. One of its most pernicious characteristtics is precisely that it happens DESPITE intention-- when people's attention is off on something else. Oppression works like that.

Did anyone here among us in this discussion, for instance, MEAN to wake up this morning and mistreat someone else because of some unexamined and inaccurate impression about them? Of course not. But if we are honest, don't we do this every day to some measure, toward someone we encounter?

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Villan
Date: 03 Mar 05 - 02:38 PM

You might have a point there Susan, but I am sure most of us don't do it intentionally. I think that is where the difference is.
There is a difference between somebody who does it with pleasure versus somebody who does it unintentionally.

I shouted at my daughter tonight because she was winding me up, and I was very tired. She was in tears. I didn't do it intentionally. I apologised and we cuddled and made up. It didn't mean that I didn't love her.

There is a difference. People who are judging Folkies are misguided interfering, uninformed about the traditions. Go find somebody who is really rascist and sort them out.

It makes my blood boil.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Shambles
Date: 03 Mar 05 - 02:54 PM

Things may not be what is deemed currently - to be politically correct - but things deemed not to be politically correct were initially well-intentioned moves to politely address possible offence and what may become full blown racism - before they do. Being non PC and being rascist are not the same thing.

To view events like this as anything other than perhaps having some clumsy or confused aspects that may give offence to some - as possibly being racist is not helpful. When (even the local) the media suggest this or use these terms - they are being a little irresponsible.

Blacking up for guising mumers is not I repeat not Racist while dressing up as black men singing "polly wally doodle or whatever" is at best distatseful and worst Racist.

Events like Rochester Sweeps Festival look to be OK but perhaps there is not enough evidence either way for current Darkie Days. But even if the latter were as described, and I am not sure that it is, in the above quote - there are perhaps other words than distasteful and racist that could more accurately describe it. I think we would agree that it is not exactly the KKK or existing in anything like the same envirionment or culture.

For IF the troublesome 'minstrel' concept was the case - and the participants do not agree with this extreme outside view being expressed of their activities - they are more likely to dig-in and less likely to see that there may be aspects that could possibly be addressed to avoid causing offence.

There is also the view that imitation is a form of flattery. But if the intention is clearly NOT mockery - perhaps seeing it more as flattery - is the way forward.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: wysiwyg
Date: 03 Mar 05 - 03:37 PM

To make a point about cross-cultural awareness (US/UK) as regards racism, here's something that might help explain why there can be such a level of concern expressed that it comes across as accusatory, especially toward you Brits--

The degree of racial violence here in the US was and sometimes still is extreme, and it has continued behind the scenes long after it seemed to no longer be considered acceptable.

A feeling-- frequently justified by developments (in the world, not here)-- has resulted that when the surface layer appears to be ambiguous, about "racial" matters, people of color are going to be hurt.

There has been such a lack, historically, of white folk owning up to what had been done and still is done, that people of color and their allies have gotten into a habit of assuming that wrong is either happening or just on the verge of happening. It's expressed as "sounds racist to me" and I am sure it feels very accusatory, but it's actually an expression of fear. "I'm scared, do I need to be?" It never quite feels safe enough to even name it as a fear. It masquerades as vigilance, but it's fear. And remember-- an often-justified fear.

When people react to that historically-justified fear by getting defensive that "we are not about that", it tends to reinforce the fear rather than reduce it.

Now, I understand that the UK is not responsible for US upsets. But we do see, here at Mudcat, quite a lot of transatlantic judgmentalism in both directions on a variety of topics, and a corresponding amount of mutual defensiveness and puzzlement.

What to do? Well, I for one would like to see a greater US awareness that British people here at Mudcat tend to be the ordinary working folk who've been held down in their own society-- not the folk who have made a fortune off the labor of others-- and that UK Mudcatters are under an onslaught in your own culture now, to be robbed of your culture by forces we here in the US cannot quite understand.

In that, UK Catters have something in common with people of color in the US-- who also were robbed of a culture. There's a wide patch of common ground there. Isn't there?

Commonalities can be harder to discover, but much more satisfying to note, than the things that tend to divide people.

I'd want to see UK folk tell us all about these traditions, and how and why they are valuable to you individually-- as a celebration, not as a defense against a perceived charge of racism. Telling us gets complicated, because reading the descriptions here, speaking just for myself-- I have NO IDEA what you're talking about! :~) I'm not even sure where to start, to form a question! :~)

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 03 Mar 05 - 04:21 PM

Racism, BTW is not limited to what people INTEND

Susan, sorry but I must object. Racism is purely and simply about intent. Racism is the crime of discriminating against someone or being deliberately hurtful to them on grounds of race. That CANNOT be done unintentionaly. It can be very deep seated, almost automatic, but it is still intentional. What has happened in this and countless other cases is that the tradition has not moved with the times. Whether it should or should not is a completely different argument to whether it is racist or not.

As to I'd want to see UK folk tell us all about these traditions, and how and why they are valuable to you individually-- as a celebration, not as a defense against a perceived charge of racism. Try and liken it to your 4th of July celebrations. It celebrates your vicory over the British. It is something you have done for over 200 years. If I was to move next door to you and complain of your racism towards me every July 4th would you stop doing it? Of course not, and rightly so. It is very simple. Independance day is not racist. St Patricks day is not racist. Bastile day is not racist. Celebrating one way of life in no way shape or form degrades another. Mumming, Morris, Darkie days, Nutters et al are simply celebrating a way of life that some people wish to keep alive.


Any clearer?

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: wysiwyg
Date: 03 Mar 05 - 04:40 PM

DtG, yes, that is a helpful start for me, but please-- I am speaking from a good amount of experience actually working with a variety of groups on eliminating a variety of oppressions-- and it DOES operate below the level of intent. It is a form of racism when it operates that way. It is different in DEGREE from crimes of racism, but an ism is an ism is an ism, and they get buried inside us in our enculturation.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Mar 05 - 04:50 PM

Susan.

You wrote that:

"There has been such a lack, historically, of white folk owning up to what had been done and still is done, that people of color and their allies have gotten into a habit of assuming that wrong is either happening or just on the verge of happening. It's expressed as "sounds racist to me" and I am sure it feels very accusatory, but it's actually an expression of fear. "I'm scared, do I need to be?" It never quite feels safe enough to even name it as a fear. It masquerades as vigilance, but it's fear. And remember-- an often-justified fear."

As a person of color speaking for myself, "fear" didn't and doesnpt at all factor into my response and analysis of this tradition.
Though I appreciate your intent,if I understand you correctly, I'm not sure that your fear premise is valid for people of color and our "allies"

In this thread I wrote that I found the customs described about Afro wig wearing, faced blackened, minstrel singing folks to be offensive and insensitive..

You will note that in none of my previous posts have I ever said nor have I implied that these people were racist..I don't think they are..

And I'm not afraid.

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Mar 05 - 05:04 PM

Cornwall's race problems have put them under scrutiny. Why don't they address them instead of whinging?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: wysiwyg
Date: 03 Mar 05 - 05:10 PM

Azizi, no, you did not say that, nor did I imply you had. I am talking about what people have shared said at a variety of workshops, etc., specifically on racim, sexism, classism, etc., in which I have participated and which I led for many years in a variety of settings. If you feel their expeience is not relvant for you, that's fine. A generalization synthesized from group input is not usually completely accurate to any one individual, nor should it be assumed to be.

Azizi, BTW-- do you agree that only crimes of intent are racism?

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Mar 05 - 09:27 PM

Susan,
I am not an expert on racism, nor do I want to be..therefore I defer to others to answer that question or speak to that issue.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: LadyJean
Date: 04 Mar 05 - 12:38 AM

In the mid seventies, when I was going to Ohio University, I saw several students in blackface for the annual Halloween orgy. They were mimicking, very crudely, African Americans. (One girl was dressed as Aunt Jemima.) The idea was to offend people. Lots of the students wore offensive costumes. One young man dressed as a prengnant nun. Another had on a trench coat, a pair of sneakers, a pair of socks, and a pair of shorts to which he had attached a large loofah sponge. He was standing in a doorway flashing people. A group of young men wore striped convict uniforms, and chanted, occasionally "We're from----Prison where men are men, women are scarce and sheep are nervous!"
As I said, the idea was to offend people.
Blackface, and the term "darkie", in the U.S. are associated with some rather unfortunate stereotypes.
I understand Harlequin's black mask was, to show that he came from the coal mines of Bergamo, Italy. Just an aside.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Mar 05 - 02:36 AM

Perhaps we should specify the exact nature of the supposed offence and to whom? Is it just the dressing-up as black people?

I asked Mrs Shambles for her thoughts on men dressing-up as women for entertainment and on high days and holidays and if this dressing-up was offensive.

She did have a bit of a problem with the pantomime dame and the larger than life high-lighting of female stereotypes like the mother-in-law or verbal attacks upon women in general from this role. She did not seem to take offence at just the act of men dressing-up as women for a bit of fun (or any other reason).

So perhaps it really is the intent (or the percieved intent) of all of this dressing-up that is the real issue? If this is the case then those who think that particpants in traditional events like Rochester Sweeps (where there clearly is no intent to offend black people) should use some colour other than black or otherwise modify things - can think again?

If these events and the dressing-up involved - have nothing to do with race - it does not seem to be sensible to risk them out of over-sensitivity and it is not as if there are not enough real race issues for us all to address?

And even in events that may appear to be a little more questionable - perhaps the benefit of the doubt can also be given there? We should all take care and work as to not to cause offence to others but perhaps should not risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater - for no good reason.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Azizi
Date: 04 Mar 05 - 02:43 AM

Shambles,
How about throwing the dirty bathwater away and not the baby.

See Dave the gnome's post of 28 Feb 05 - 07:40 AM.

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 04 Mar 05 - 11:53 AM

In the case of events like Rochester Sweeps - there is no dirty bathwater that needs throwing away. Or do you think there is?

There must even be some question whether there is any dirty water to throw away in Darkie Days for I think we need more information before many of us express an opinion either way. Without this information - it would be equally as bad to defend it as it is to attack it.

There would appear to be differences in these traditional events and as it would be quite wrong to read any racial aspects into events like Rochester Sweeps it would be quite wrong to risk this type of event - or are you saying that they all look the same to you?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Mar 05 - 12:34 PM

Rochester Sweeps Festival


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: breezy
Date: 04 Mar 05 - 12:44 PM

Here are few facts and observations I have made during extensive anthropological research over 35 years of living very close to padstow

The Cornish are not racist, they are Cornish, and its not easy to get a job there unless you are and or have Cornish connections.
Immigration restrictions have been removed and border crossing only costs as you leave via the Tamar.
The Prince of Wales depends on the area for his allowance.
Padstow ,or Padstein as it known in certain circles, is a beautiful little harbour town where during the sumer evenings you can be nearly run over by the young lads as they scooter around the quayside and consume quantities of canned brew in the surrounding shelters.
This behaviour shows how well they fit the description of most towns in England as a whole.
The price of property has meant most local young people cannot afford to buy homes as more properties are bought up as holiday homes. this was always bound to cause a reaction.
The enforced decline of the fishing fleet has compounded the problem.

At the same time the people are genuine, warm and friendly and as a community they are very close and protective of their own.

Music plays a key part in their lives, its not high art, its fun, for it to be taken in any other way demonstrtes a total lack of understanding and ignorance on the part of any accuser.

When was the last time your town had a knees up? It happens most of the time in Padstow where people know and care for each other.

The best pasties at the Chough.

Music in the Red Lion and the Ship

Sometimes the London

Best Leather craft work at Bagend

Speed boats    Cyclone    well I chipped in for it.

oss oss wee oss


Tonight Graeme Knoghts's CD launch at the legion in St Albans


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Azizi
Date: 04 Mar 05 - 12:54 PM

Shambles, I like that witty comment
"or are you saying that they all look the same to you?"

I'm not EVEN going to go there..

Thanks for the link..It was interesting reading.

My immediate comment about using black face paint to represent chimney sweeps could be a relatively modern interpretation for an ancient custom the meaning of which may be lost in antiquity {and could have had something to do with the Moors-meaning dark skinned people.. Or it could have not had anything to do with the Moors.}

I am curious as to why a kiss from a chimney sweep was considered good luck..

I know in the United States there was a folk custom that patting the hair of a Black child [or person] was good luck..I find that custom offensive too..

But, this is not to say that that custom and getting a kiss from a black face painted child or man are in any way related [heavens forbid that there would be any promotion what so ever of interracial sexualized conduct!!-I'm sure [and I'm not being facitious at all] that this is the furthest thing from these folks minds...

Now in America, the reaction to Black faced men kissing White women would be far different.. As I'm sure you know, not that long ago Black men and Black boys were mutilated and lynched for even LOOKING at White women. I can't imagine that Americans living with such 'traditions' would tolerate the public exhibit of men or boys in Black paint kissing White girls and White women.

So yes, the history is different..

I look forward to reading more about Guising.

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Mar 05 - 01:13 PM

I'm not EVEN going to go there..

Very wise...........*smiles*

But you did see the irony in that remark. A judgmental approach to different races and cultures from a position of ignorance is what I hope we are all trying to get away from.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Azizi
Date: 04 Mar 05 - 05:34 PM

"A judgmental approach to different races and cultures from a position of ignorance is what I hope we are all trying to get away from."

Oh, is that so?"

I'm glad to hear it. But "all" is a big word.

I'm not convinced that all or even most people who guise care about the implications of some of the 'modern' additions to their ancient traditions.

And with that statement, I bid everyone on this thread so long.

And will say that I have appeciated the level of the discussion and have learned a lot also.

Peace,
Azizi


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 04 Mar 05 - 05:54 PM

Don't leave Azizi. You have brought clear and reasoned argument to what is not clear and often unreasonable. I don't always agree but I have listened and learned.

Spot


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Azizi
Date: 04 Mar 05 - 05:59 PM

Thanks Spot, I appreciate your comment.

But..okay..same as everyone else, if I have anything else that I feel compelled to say,I'll say it..

Well, actually I'll write it...

;o))


Azizi


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Mar 05 - 06:32 PM

I'm glad to hear it. But "all" is a big word.

It is perhaps as big a word as "hope".

I'm not convinced that all or even most people who guise care about the implications of some of the 'modern' additions to their ancient traditions.

If I were to unintentionally offend someone by being 'blacked-up' as chimmney sweep or/and by playing the (modern) banjo for a rapper side - I would not be happy at causing this offence - but I would think that possibly not all the lack of understanding in this case - would be due to me.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Azizi
Date: 04 Mar 05 - 11:53 PM

Here's a bit of information that seems to explain why kissing a chimney sweep was considered lucky.

"A chimney sweep's lucky as lucky can be..."
Many people will be able to sing along with that song from the Walt Disney version of Mary P. Travers' "Mary Poppins," but not as many know that In Germany, Austria, Hungary, and contiguous regions, the chimney sweep is considered a particularly auspicious omen of good luck if you meet with him on New Year's Day.

The postcard shown here is inscribed in Hungarian "Boldog Ujevet" (which, according to reader Marcell Revisnyei, means "Happy New Year"). It was postally used on January 1st, 1938. It is typical of Central and Eastern European New Year's postcards in which a chimney sweep -- often a blond child -- is shown frolicking in the snow, tossing out lucky talismans by the basketful.

The imagery on this card is unusual to American eyes because the slipshod young chimney sweep is not only sprinkling the ground with four-leaf clovers, he is equally generous in his distribution of toxic red and white Amanita muscaria mushrooms. This is not as strange as it seems, however, for while the four-leaf clover is considered lucky throughout Europe and North America, the Amanita muscaria or "gluckpilz" ("lucky mushroom" in German) is deemed fortuitous in Central and Eastern Europe, where there are remnants of respect for its ancient use as a shamanic hallucinogen.

When i asked my mother Lilo Glozer, who was born in Germany, about the chimney sweep as a bringer of New Year's luck, she replied:

New Year's was not celebrated in Germany until the l7th century, according to an old book I have on German folklore, so originally, this took place on Christmas or Saint Nicholas' Day, but anyway, gifts were given on New Year's Day to people who delivered bread or did household chores that were not performed by live-in servants. In exchange, these purveyors of services often handed out little cards with a blessing or good wishes.

Meeting a chimney sweep -- called a Schornsteinfeger or Schlotfeger --at New Year's meant good luck for the year, especially if he would give you his card. However, by the time my sister and I were children, in the 1910s and 1920s, chimney sweeps were sufficiently rare that meeting one at any time of the year was considered lucky.

Chimney sweeps can also be found in the form of silver bracelet charms, small figurines, Good Luck Semi-Sweet Chocolate labels like the one shown here (which also depicts a lucky horseshoe), and even edible mid-winter gifts in which the chimney sweep's body is made of dried prunes.

Other European postcards in my collection show chimney sweeps giving people money bags, riding in toboggans with lucky pigs, and strewing about prodigious amounts of four-leaf clovers and Amanita muscaria mushrooms.

Perhaps i am fingerpainting here, but i see in this sooty New year's mushroom-bringer the folkloric remains of a shamanic Winter Solstice tradition now long lost to history. "

This article is accompanied by a photo here Luck & Chimney Sweeps

****
This is an example of how historical information found on the Internet can be used to help explain present day customs..

The photo that accompanies this article is of a white faced blond haired boy. It's interesting to note that in this article the chimney sweep was not considered lucky because of a 'sooty face' but because of the good luck charms that he distributed.

Certainly one article is not good research. But if the tradition of the chimney sweep emphasized the distribution of good luck charms more than the 'skin color' of the sweep, how did the color become more dominant as my readings thus far of the modern day customs suggests? Are there other articles that might support a belief that 'black' color itself was good luck? This would be counter to the tradition in the United States, at least, that [for instance] seeing a black cat is bad luck...But am I correct that in financial terms, 'being in the black' is good? And Europe does have Chritian traditions of Black Madonnas..[which may or may not have anything to do with this guising tradition]

In summary, as a result of reading this one article on chimney sweeps, I have a better understanding of the reasons behind the traditional custom of blackening up. The chimney sweep explanation sounds more believable to me than the disguise explanation [which as I understand it from this and other Mudcat threads is that lower class people who were going door to door begging at a particular time [New Years?]used cork to blacken their faces as a means of disguising themselves from their upper class masters. However, it seems possible to me that the black face disguise explanation/customs were grafted onto the older chimney sweep good luck traditions..

That being said, given MY history, I still have a negative gut reaction when I read about White folks with cork blackened faces froliking around the streets [especially white folks with cork blackened faces who are wearing afro wigs and singing minstrel songs].

I still think the modern day additions to these traditions [afro wig, minstrel songs] should be ditched..

I also think that people around the world [and not just Guisers]need to do a MUCH better job of researching their traditions and teaching the ancient reasons for these traditions.


Azizi


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 01:02 AM

One up for the armchair historians - thanks for the info Azizi.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Shambles
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 04:40 AM

I still think the modern day additions to these traditions [afro wig, minstrel songs] should be ditched..

You are entitled to your opinion and many may agree - (if or where these are a reality of a particular event - and there must sill be some doubt if these are) - but there are many other 'modern day additions' to a constantly evolving traditon - should these be ditched also?

In the good old days of the British Empire - we just accepted the whole package and did not impose our views and morality upon the customs, religions and traditions of the countries that we showed a better example to - when ruling over them. *Smiles*

Attempts to impose a different morality and religion upon a invaded culture have met with mixed success a good example is in Central and South America. The original motives for high-days and holiday celebrations tend to surface inside the imposed religions. And over time the indigenous population tend to influence the imposed celebrations until they resemble little - the original ones still taking place in the home countries.

I also think that people around the world [and not just Guisers]need to do a MUCH better job of researching their traditions and teaching the ancient reasons for these traditions.

I have fund that visiting Americans or usually very interested in the extent of UK and European traditions. Perhaps these traditions should not be tailored to meet the morality of visitors but honestly reflect those of the participants? And perhaps the participants should be permitted to get on with the celebrations and the research left to researchers and the teaching to the teachers?

The Padstow shopkeeping lady quoted - said she would not have anything to do with Darkie Days if she thought it had anything to do with racism. Perhaps those of outside should leave the alleged offences to the participants to sort out?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Villan
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 04:55 AM

Sooty and Sweep :-)

http://members.lycos.co.uk/SootyandSweep/


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Shambles
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 04:56 AM

As a Londoner myself - and although I cannot number a sweep as one of my many professions - many Londoners could have taken deep offence at an American (Dick Van Dyke) playing a sweep in Mary Poppins. His jolly 'cockenee' accent was head and shoulders above the many other terrible movie accents and reinforced a questionable racial stereotype.

Londoners could make a big fuss and say that the portrayal of cockney sweeps by American actors should be ditched - but this was taken as a joke.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,The Shambles
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 11:08 AM

This was posted by Terry Redmond on uk.music.folk

http://www.an-daras.com/music/m_tuneindex_p_begonewindow.htm

The following from the above site.

Begone From The Window / Gwra Mos Dyworth An Fenester Words English, Cornish, French REFERENCES
Old Cornwall Society Magazine April 1927 p 14 - 15


From singing of Jas Thomas NOTES

" This curious old Chorus is evidently the original of the darkey (*Darky)chorus:-

Go away from the window my lover my dove

Go away from the window! Don't you hear?

Come again some other night

For theres going to be a fight

And the razors will be flying in the air


This however misses the meaning of the song which is kept in an old French one sung in Burgundy:-

Qui frappe,qui frappe

Mon mari est ici

Il n`est pas a la campagne

Comme il l`avait promis-

Parle (voix d`homme)

Quest-ce que tu dis donc la ma femme

Je berce le petit mimi, je berce le petit"

(OCS April 1927) The term Darky or Darkie refers to people who black up their faces in disguise as part of Geese (pronounced geez) or guise dancing and is a tradition still extant in Padstow in 2003.

There has been recent and erroneous linking with the "Black and White minstrels" and some unfounded concerns about racist overtones. The origins of darkie day in fact go back a long way through generations of people disguising themselves so that they could get up to greater mischief back to a point in time where they may have had some significance in pagan ritual.

Whatever the background it has nothing to do with skin colour or the tradition would not have survived the vehement anti slave trade movement in Cornwall. (Merv Davey)


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: wysiwyg
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 11:15 AM

I think we have the "razors in the air" song posted around here somewhere, too-- it's a fun tune, with more verses. Is it a lady singing to a visiting guiser? Why would there be a fight then?

And.... might this be where the term "geezer" comes from?

~S~


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 11:53 AM

Perhaps these traditions should not be tailored to meet the morality of visitors but honestly reflect those of the participants?

These traditions, in some places already seem to have been tailored, in a way that very much reflects the morality of the participants.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Shambles
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 03:08 PM

That being said, I acknowledge that I am very prone to be sceptical of assertions that 'darkie' refers to the dark days, or the only reason why black paint was used was as a disguise so that a worker's boss would not recognize him.. These seem to me to be more like contemporary, politically correct reasons for ancient customs whose original purposes may not ever be totally known-or whose members want to defray accusations [warranted or unwarranted of their insensitivity...

Yes you are sceptical - but this rather assumes that there was some form of insensitivity in the first place. I am not so sure that there is - especially when we are talking about children 'blacking-up' as a sweep! If you do something in and as part of your own culture - innocent of any intentional mockery to any other culture. Should not that innocent intent (or lack of intent to offend) first be taken by somone in a different culture at face value? If not - why not? Perhaps not being prepared to do this - is the more insensitive approach?

Should any further historical explanation given - be accepted without any sceptism unless or until some evidence for this sceptism is found or provided? It would seem clear that in your culture 'blacking-up' and the playing of banjos will automatically suggest to you only one thing. In our culture (and that includes all the British black people) - it does not mean the same thing. You seem to ignore that the practice in our culture seems to pre-date the practice in your US culture. You only seem to be prepared to tolerate our culture as long as it does not incorporate any modern aspects (especially those not to your persoanl taste, arising from your culture). When it comes to customs and traditions - I don't think that you can't really pick and choose like this or impose upon another culture - what you consider to be politically correct.   

For it should be no surprise - for what it is worth - that I am equally sceptical of judgemental insensitivity based on (an admitted) lack of knowledge - that appears to be set on set on looking for and seems determined to find offence - where there is (or may be) none and imposing a view based on this. I do not see that this sceptical approach is helpful to anyone.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Shambles
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 07:12 PM

This site has some information on the 'Blackface' legacy in the USA.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1919122

If you do a search - you will also get a lot of sites on the Blackface Sheep.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 07:59 PM

It seems to me that the Padstow event has been a victim, not of cultural differences or racial sensitivity, but rather of the current guidelines, which compel police to treat as racial any occurrence which is perceived as racial by persons who feel offended by it.

This, coupled with the inflammatory language of the True Brits (definitely not a joke, not the least bit funny) article, has blown a bit of harmless fun out of all proportion. The only pictorial evidence in the article is one photo, which could be any black face morris side in the world, in which one person is playing melodion.
No sign of any Uncle Tom, ar similar. Surely the reporter could have produced pictures of any offensively dressed protagonists, had there been any such.

The police presence seems to have been the trigger for this interest, and as I said, they have no latitude under present legislation. It will be interesting to see their response to what actually occurred, rather than going off at half cock, and expanding a small molehill into a rather large mountain.

I would campaign tirelessly for the instant abolition of any tradition, however old, that was genuinely racist, but I want more than one reporter with an axe to grind, and an anonymous complainant to the police, before I accept that the Padstow event falls into that category.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,wmlbrown@earthlink.net
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 03:20 PM

Hi, i've been following this issue on the Morris Dance Discussion List, which has is similar to this one. I'm cross-posting this:

I recommend reading the discussion of this subject at http://www.blackchat.co.uk/theblackforum/forum32/9073.html amongst (apparently) Carribean-African people living in England.

You may be surprised.

The reaction ranges from outrage ("I couldnt believe that this actually happens... And that the locals see nothing wrong with it. The mind boggles"), to dismay that the CRE is wasting its time ("I think this is a classic case of The CRE having no serious role or not wanting to take on serious work.")

I particularly like the positive suggestion (the only one I've seen on this issue) that "if they had any sense they would  have advertised in the VOICE subsidised coach parties for West Indians to liven up the proceedings.  Complete with stalls selling spicy JAMAICAN PATTIES"

It would be a nice gesture of good-intentions and I'm sure all parties would find it enriching if indeed the sponsors of Darkie Days invited some people of African descent to attend and bring some authentic cultural entertainment. It would be particularly interesting if they could find a Jonkannu troupe (a Carribean-African blend of mumming and African tradtions).

--Bill


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: BB
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 03:21 PM


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: BB
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 03:22 PM

Sorry about that!

It was on our local news tonight that it has been decided that 'no offence was committed'. Suggestions have been made about changes which should ensure that there are no problems in the future. What those suggestions might be was not forthcoming in the very brief report.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Villan
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 03:33 PM

Hey Bill I like your idea. It sounds really great. Inclusion. I am all for that. Got something coming up in our neck of the woods for June (It's a charity event) and it would be brilliant if anybody of African descent could attend and bring some authentic cultural entertainment. It would be particularly interesting if they could find a Jonkannu troupe (a Carribean-African blend of mumming and African traditions. PM me.


Barbara, I am really glad that it seems that there isn't a case.

Lets get back to it. :-)


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,wmlbrown@earthlink.net
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 05:56 PM

Villan,

I'm afraid I've no idea where your neck of the woods is. I'm in the US, myself, so if you are in the UK, my contacts wouldn't do you much good - not that I have any for Jonkannu troupes. A couple of years ago I met a member of a troupe which had disbanded, and we had a fascinating discussion about identical features of Jonkannu and Morris/mumming: short trousers, white shirts, baldricks, bells at the knees, Christmas-play, and cadging. (Joncannu is a Christmas/Boxing Day tradition, by the way - I doubt you'd find it in June). The play characters are different - apparently based on African cultural characters/mythology - but the idea is the same: "entertain" the upper-class at Christmas-time to get some cash (to go away).

From what I've read on this, Jonkannu (there are various other spellings, including "John Canoe") has eveloved in some places such as the Bahamas into a carnival parade spectacle with elaborate costumes, and it has lost the mummers play aspect (much like the Mummers Parade in Philadelphia, PA, USA).

I suggest you contact the folks at that site I mentioned in my last post if you are looking for Carribean-African entertainment contacts in the UK.

Good luck!

--Bill


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Mar 05 - 06:18 PM

Here's the website of the Bathampton Morris Men, with their Bagman, Idris Roker, who was mentioned earlier in the thread.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Villan
Date: 11 Mar 05 - 01:44 AM

Cheers
Bill

It is the UK


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Flash Company
Date: 11 Mar 05 - 10:16 AM

Apparently the CPS decided yesterday that nothing of a Racist nature had taken place on the videos produced by the Devon & Cornwall police department at Padstow. Case dismissed.

FC


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Mar 05 - 11:06 AM

The organisers were informed of the filming and changes took place to songs and costumes beforehand, according to those taking part. So, well worth the police intervention.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,Guest - Terry Redmond
Date: 11 Mar 05 - 11:30 AM

Date: 11 Mar 05 - 11:06 AM

"The organisers were informed of the filming and changes took place to songs and costumes beforehand, according to those taking part. So, well worth the police intervention"

Yeah, right. The police tip the organisers off so no racist charges can stick - then film the now cleaned up event?
You have evidence for this?

Darky day evidence?

Which one is 'cleaned up'?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Mar 05 - 11:36 AM

still in denial?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 11 Mar 05 - 11:40 AM

Great idea indeed, Bill. Don't stay a guest, btw, come and join the madhouse...;-)

I dunno how it works there in the US but I would love to find out. The issue I have always had here in the UK whenever I have tried to get other groups involved is A) Finding them and B) affording them! Ours isn't a tradition - just a small music festival but I do look for diversity where I can. We can get a Morris team for expenses usualy. When we asked for a Bhangra dance troup they were asking hundreds of pounds! To a little festival like ours it does make it difficult. I suspect the same is true of the little regional traditional festivals like Padstow and Bacup.

There was only one occasion when we managed to get a bit of variance. We got extra funding from the arts council and managed to book a Ghanaan story teller and a Ukrainian dance troup. If the 'powers that be' could do something about creating ethnic diversity in this way rather than just criticising we may be well on the way to racial harmony:-)

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: robomatic
Date: 11 Mar 05 - 11:46 AM

Never heard of "Darkie Days." Sounds like a considerably different tradition from the US Minstrel shows.

By coincidence, I recently viewed an early Hitchcock Movie, "Young And Innocent" from 1937 which has as a plot device one of its characters performing in blackface in a veddy British minstrel jazz combo (good music, too). Took me back because I'd never imagined such a thing. By additional coincidence, at this very moment on NPR, a black DJ is explaining how he has taken the historic and historically racist 1915 American film, "Birth Of A Nation" and re-mixed it with modern audio and video effects to make it into a self-commentary: "Re-Birth of A Nation". It's normally done as a live mix with the DJ there.

The English have a very different perspective from Americans: England outlawed slavery far earlier than the US, and used its navy to restrict or eliminate the slave trade where feasible. And of course, England never had a large population of slaves itself. The word 'nigger' cropped up in Gilbert and Sullivan quite 'innocently' (The Mikado) and was replaced with 'vigor' possibly within G & S's lifetimes, and probably to satisfy the American market because the word never packed the pungency in Britain that it did over here. I believe they mainly considered it a reference to color (as opposed to race).

It is possible to see Darkie Days as a homegrown folk tradition that can be tolerated by minorities who have an understanding of its origins and intents. But it may also be perceived as an inherently flawed activity in the light of current population.

In Anchorage about fifteen years ago, one of the better and more enlightened high schools had a series of student rendered paintings on the sides of its hallways. One of the paintings depicted a figure hanging by a noose from a tree, below which the word "Prejudice" was printed. The figure was faceless and, as I recall, purple. The mother of one of the students, who was black, maintained it was a racist illustration and wanted it removed. It became a "letters to the editor" issue and went on for a few weeks. Most people thought it was a good "anti-racist" message and tastefully displayed. This one woman was adamant. In the end, the image was removed.

Toleration doesn't always mean the same thing at the same time.

The discussion of the issue is a good thing. It is more important than whatever the conclusion turns out to be.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Cats
Date: 11 Mar 05 - 01:24 PM

I've just got back home after 4 days in the frozen north (Scarborough) at the Womens TUC Conference. It was good to hear the news that there is no case to answer and that CPS have dismissed it. What is worrying is that the Asst Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall made a written statement to the Western Morning News in which he indicated that he disagreed with it and therefore would be policing it to make sure there is no rowdy behaviour. As a public servant I would have thought that he could have said that as an individual but not as a police officer, especially as there has been a CPS ruling.
As for what has been cleaned up... well, the minstrel songs and afro wigs disappeared years ago, so it wasn't that, so all that I can see is that the Merrymakers weren't so rowdy this year. The video wasn't cleaned up either, it had to go just as it stood so... There again the CRE found it to be not racist when Bernie Grant complained. The Merrymakers did exactly the same as they do every year.
CPS have said that 'the blacking of faces' is not racist so all those morris and molly sides, as well as Rochester Sweeps, can breathe again. So, folks. lets celebrate. Go and support the Britannia Men when they are out at Easter, in fact, let's all celebrate all out British Folk Traditions for what they are. Our Heritage.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Mar 05 - 09:15 PM

"according to those taking part" - more vague gossip and rumours. Who are the "those taking part" cited, where does the information come from, etc.

................

Incidentally, here's a picture (from my flickr photostream, and our family album) of a group of their neighbours in London celebrating the end of the Great War outside their decorated home - the reason I put it in here is because of the young man in Blackface Minstrel with the banjo. Except he looks more like a Pierrot. It's a strange picture in several ways - there's a melancholy about it. Appropriate enough.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,Hugh Jampton
Date: 12 Mar 05 - 04:45 AM

Bearing in mind CPS judgement the Asst.Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall would be better occupied in deploying his force against criminals and anti-social behaviour rather than those innocent participants and spectators on Darkie Days. It sounds as if he is saying he`ll have his way regardless.
Let sanity reign.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,GUEST - Terry Redmond
Date: 12 Mar 05 - 05:43 AM

Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Mar 05 - 11:36 AM

still in denial?

I'm not in denial, I'm puzzled - what is your point?

The article you refer to is dated 10th March and says that after consultation with the organiser and some minor changes had been agreed-presumably to avoid accusations in future-there was no case to answer.

The original investigation report was published on the 25th Feb. So if the changes had already been made there would have been no point in filming, if they hadn't been made then a crime had been committed.

A prosecution would have had to have followed.

So I ask again- are you really saying that the changes were contrived between organisers and authorities before the Police videos were made, that despite these changes nobody thought to simply make a sworn declaration "This is NOT what normally happens" which would have forced the CPS to take the matter to court?

This was first investigated SEVEN years ago with the same result. A Press Complaints enquiry took place on the reporting. The CPS took evidence from MP's, the CRE and the Police- no evidence of racist content.

In SEVEN years, not one of the complaints of RACISM has had the intelligence or the moral courage to video the event or put their name to a complaint.
IF IT'S RACIST - IT SHOULD STOP. And I promise that I'll take no further part in the guising activities for the museums, churches and civic processions that I have been participating in for the last five years.

These traditions go back at least a couple of hundred years.
Hasn't ANY one of the complainants got the guts to stand up to present the case and substantiate this 'evidence' without a mask of anonymity?

Terry


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,Lodenek
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 03:15 AM

I'm a Padstonian who grew up with the Darkie Day custom. I understand that the hearts and minds of the people of Padstow aren't racist. However, this celebration is definitely politically incorrect. Just because the Crown Prosecution Service has determined that Darkie Days celebrants aren't breaking the law, doesn't mean that these celebrations are acceptable today. It is my earnest hope that the people of Padstow will recognise this and voluntarily discontinue this tradition, and replace it with another one. I suggest that they sing and dance in the streets of Padstow to celebrate our diversity and call that celebration D Day (Diversity Day). How would the people of Padstow react to people mocking their ancient tradition of May Day, when the Padstow Obby Oss (Hobby Horse) lives again? How would they feel about the ancient culture of their ancestors being mocked? How would they feel about their ancient Cornish (Kernewek) language, music, dance and Celtic customs being ridiculed? I know that they would find this to be extremely offensive. That's exactly the same way black people react to the Padstow Darkie Days celebration.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: The Shambles
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 04:21 AM

And I am a Dutchman.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Azizi
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 08:32 AM

GUEST,Lodenek,

Thank you.

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 10:54 AM

You're welcome St. Francis.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,Lodenek
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 11:00 AM

Forgot to identify myself. It's nice to find that the blessed Saints are watching over Padstow's Darkie Days.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,Lodenek
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 12:33 PM

The Shambles wrote: And I am a Dutchman. Does this suggest doubt that I'm a Padstonian? If so, I would be happy to identify myself.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: wysiwyg
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 01:24 PM

Lodenek, it is not necessary to identify yourself. Here, relationships of trust grow between site members, because there are private-messaging options to use when things need to be clarified privately. For instance, I wondered what you meant about "St. Francis." But it is something I would prefer to discuss privately, not in the thread.

In any event, welcome to Mudcat!

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Peace
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 01:28 PM

It was a play on words: St Francis of Assisi. I think so, anyway.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Snuffy
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 01:28 PM

I think its just a pun on Azizi's name - St Francis of Azizi?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 02:33 PM

That's right, it was a play on words. Turning Azizi into St. Francis of Assisi. I'm going to check into membership here. Perhaps that would reveal who I am? Lodenek by the way is the original Cornish (Kernewek)name for Padstow. That name was used prior to the arrival of St. Petroc when the name changed to Petrockstow and later corrupted by common useage to Padstow. Stow is the Cornish word for Place, hence the place of Petroc. I intend to write to the Padstow Echo, and include a similar letter to the one I wrote in this Forum. Frankly, this will not make me any friends in Padstow. In fact, it will probably alienate me from many friends and also from my two siblings. That's unfortunate, but I have to stand up and be counted on the subject of Darkie Days. The citizens of Padstow really need to think carefully about this politically incorrect celebration, and do the right thing, euthanize it. Gorguytheugh...Cornish for Take Care. Alexander


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: breezy
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 02:33 PM

or Sister in this case??

She is still with us after all.

The folks I spoke to in Padstow last week end were very mindful that they do not upset anyone

Then the cornish man wouldnt be as considerate seeing as the cost of houses has been pushed beyond the reach of the locals and the Spanish are poaching in the waters.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: GUEST,Lodenek
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 02:35 PM

Forgot to identify myself again. Alexander


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Azizi
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 08:06 PM

Lodenek, I liked the pun on my name.

However, I must confess that I'm no saint.

Actually, the name "Azizi" [ah-ZEE-zee] is the KiSwahili form of the Arabic female name "Aziza" which is a form of the male name "Aziz".

The name "Azizi" means [one who is] rare & precious.

I strive to live up to my name.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Alexander
Date: 03 Apr 05 - 06:30 AM

Azizi? I'm glad you liked my pun. I just became a member and so GuestLodenek is now Alexander. I tried Alex but somebody is already using that. This thread appears to have run out, but I'll try to start one about the Padstow Obby Oss, hope to see you there.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Apr 05 - 10:25 AM

Welcome to Mudcat, Alexander!

Azizi-sometime called Ms Azizi; sometimes called sista Azizi; sometimes called sister Azizi; never called Saint Azizi! **BG**

I'll 'see' you around the Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: BB
Date: 04 Apr 05 - 04:56 PM

I never knew the origin of the name 'Padstow' - Petrockstow's in Deb'n!

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: mandoleer
Date: 04 Apr 05 - 06:08 PM

Never heard of the Darkie Days, but the idea of it reminded me of two things. At Scarborough Weekend once, we were intrigued to find that when one member of a Border Morris side had his blacked-up face washed, he was black underneath. And the other thing - has anyone raised any objection to the Britannia Coconut Dancers from Bacup yet?


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: Alexander
Date: 05 Apr 05 - 06:01 PM

Final message on this thread. Earlier I promised to write to the Padstow Town Council and the Padstow Echo to state that they should consider euthanizing the Darkie Days celebration. Since then I shared my message with my two siblings in Padstow and they both have begged me not to post that message. They state that they're the ones who will have to live with the fallout, while I'm safe and secure six thousand miles away in Washington State, USA. After giving their request some considerable thought I have decided to let the cards fall where they will without outside intervention, even if it does come from a fellow Padstonian.


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Subject: RE: Padstow Darkie Days
From: LadyJean
Date: 06 Apr 05 - 12:47 AM

I was in England in 1986, and I liked the Cornish people best of all! They were the nicest, and the most fun of all the people I met there. I didn't hear any racist comments in Cornwall. One or two at a very elegant dinner in Shrivenham. But not Cornwall.
With regards to Chimney Sweeps, the lady who taught German at my high school was a Czech. She said, in her youth, kids in Prague would go off in search of a sweep on the day of a big test, and try to get two fingers covered with soot from the sweep for good luck.
Now, the kids who put on blackface at O.U. for Halloween were, deliberately trying to offend African American students, which was stupid and mean.
The guy who dressed as a pregnant nun, and the "flasher" with the loofah sponge were trying to offend everybody, which is normal behavior for undergraduates.


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