The traditional New Year´s Day Mummers Parade held in Philadelphia and considered the oldest folk festival in the United States, was tainted by a controversial racist incident that overshadowed the colorful display of this festive city celebration.
During its latest version, At least two “mummers” with the Froggy Carr Wench Brigade showed up to the event Wednesday donning the offensive makeup, which they defended as not racist.
In spite of their arguments for acting according to a tradition, Philly Mayor Jim Kenney denounced the incident as “abhorrent” and hinted at “additional penalties.”
“The use of blackface by someone affiliated with Froggy Carr today was abhorrent and unacceptable,” he tweeted. “This selfish, hateful behavior has no place in the Mummers, or the city itself. We must be better than this. The group was disqualified and we will be exploring additional penalties.”
The use of blackface by someone affiliated with Froggy Carr today was abhorrent and unacceptable. This selfish, hateful behavior has no place in the Mummers, or the city itself. We must be better than this. The group was disqualified and we will be exploring additional penalties.
— Jim Kenney (@PhillyMayor) January 1, 2020
While participants were wearing different variations of face paint: orange and black, orange and white, etc., the two accused marchers wore only black paint.
Mike Tomaszwski, one of the men who whore the controversial mask told reporters,“Oh, blackface and all , it ain’t about that.”
Kevin Kinkel, who was also in blackface said, “Black and orange, getting Gritty with it,” referring to the Philadelphia Flyers mascot.
And when they were asked why they chose to wear blackface, Tomaszwski replied, “Cause I like it. Yeah, why not? I know it’s a shame to be white in Philly right now, yeah, yeah. It’s a shame.”
Kinkel on his part, tried to separate the racist implications of the colored face by describing it as a traditional instance. “It has nothing to do with being racist to the black person or the white person or the yellow person. It’s our tradition.”
Officials said both men were banished from Froggy Carr and all Mummers activities.”We’re going to approach the other division and make sure these people don’t ever march in the mummers again,” said George Badey, an attorney that represents the Mummers.
Blacface origins can be traced to minstrel shows in the mid to late nineteenth century when actors would use black grease paint on their faces when depicting plantation slaves on stage. The practice gained popularity during the 1 and contributed to the spread of racial stereotypes which dehumanized African-Americans. In the United States, blackface had largely fallen out of favor by the turn of the 21st century, and is now generally considered offensive and disrespectful,
It is not the first time racism plays a role in the celebration.
Last year, city leaders blasted mummers believing one of them had dressed in blackface as rapper Jay-Z, but it’s turned out that he was actually black.
Philadelphia banned blackface from the parade in the 1960s.