In the News: The Mummers Parade and Blackface

It’s a wonderful fact: whenever I have no post planned for the day something always falls into my lap anyway. I’ve long been interested in Philly’s Mummer’s Parade, drawing as it does from Medieval folk traditions, and being the oldest such event in the U.S., predating even Mardi Gras. Held annually on New Year’s Day, It is, I believe, the mother of the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, and is also very much related to South Africa’s Kaapse Klopse, which I wrote about just three weeks ago. 

It made the New York Times today because of the ongoing controversy about the use of blackface. To be clear, the use of blackface in mummery long predates America, the importation of African slaves to the U.S., or American minstrelsy. But the fact is kind of irrelevant — it continues to offend people in the here and now, and efforts to shelve the practice are applauded, especially in this specific case, where public tax funds are involved. The parade should have been self-policed long before now. Now the city threatens to end it. They’d better get their act together — I’d like to see that parade some day! Read the full article here.