Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has precluded a mummers team after, in any event, two individuals wore black face paint to the city’s yearly Mummers parade on New Year’s Day.
CNN offshoot KYW talked with two of the men in blackface who said they were dressed as Philadelphia Flyers’ mascot Gritty, the team’s theme.
“It has nothing to do about being racist to the black person or the white person or the yellow person. Whatever. It’s our tradition,” one man told the station.
When inquired as to why wear blackface, another man told KYW, “Cause I like it … Why not?”
CNN has not had the option to arrive at the men in KYW’s video.
Kenney said in a tweet on Wednesday the use of blackface 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,” Kenney said.
As per the parade website, mummers are costumed entertainers that praise the new year. The Mummers Parade dates back about 120 years in Philadelphia.
Blackface invokes a racist and painful history. It’s origins date back to minstrel shows of the mid-19th century. White performers obscured their skin with shoe polish and burnt plug and put on tattered clothing, misrepresenting their features to look stereotypically “black.”
The first minstrel shows mirrored subjugated Africans on Southern ranches, delineating black individuals as sluggish, fearful, oblivious or hypersexual, as per the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The performances were expected to be amusing for white crowds.
“Given the choice to use orange, white or black face paint — or any combination of the three — they chose to do a full face of black paint. In 2020 there is no excuse for not understanding why that is a problem. It is blackface, plain and simple,” Lauren Cox, a spokeswoman for Kenney’s office said in a statement.
CNN contacted the coordinators of the Philadelphia Mummers Parade and to the Froggy Carr club, however, he has not yet heard back.
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