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blacked up morris dancers abused in uk

Related threads:
Shrewsbury FF to ban 'blacked up' Morris (264)
All Black Tup (7)
Black-faced Morris dancers (286)


The Sandman 09 Jan 17 - 12:56 PM
Snuffy 09 Jan 17 - 01:06 PM
Dave the Gnome 09 Jan 17 - 01:14 PM
keberoxu 09 Jan 17 - 01:32 PM
David Carter (UK) 09 Jan 17 - 01:32 PM
Dave the Gnome 09 Jan 17 - 01:38 PM
Bonzo3legs 09 Jan 17 - 01:43 PM
GUEST 09 Jan 17 - 01:47 PM
Dave the Gnome 09 Jan 17 - 01:54 PM
meself 09 Jan 17 - 02:03 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Jan 17 - 02:42 PM
Joe Offer 09 Jan 17 - 02:59 PM
David Carter (UK) 09 Jan 17 - 03:24 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Jan 17 - 03:43 PM
GUEST,Senoufou 09 Jan 17 - 04:11 PM
Steve Gardham 09 Jan 17 - 04:49 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Jan 17 - 04:52 PM
GUEST,Senoufou 09 Jan 17 - 04:59 PM
Joe Offer 09 Jan 17 - 04:59 PM
GUEST 09 Jan 17 - 05:07 PM
GUEST,Joe G 09 Jan 17 - 05:13 PM
Senoufou 09 Jan 17 - 05:15 PM
GUEST 09 Jan 17 - 05:25 PM
meself 09 Jan 17 - 05:37 PM
Steve Gardham 09 Jan 17 - 05:43 PM
Thompson 09 Jan 17 - 05:47 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Jan 17 - 05:48 PM
Thompson 09 Jan 17 - 05:49 PM
GUEST,Senoufou 09 Jan 17 - 05:56 PM
Thompson 09 Jan 17 - 06:20 PM
meself 09 Jan 17 - 06:24 PM
GUEST,Senoufou 09 Jan 17 - 06:36 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Jan 17 - 06:37 PM
GUEST,SB 09 Jan 17 - 06:40 PM
GUEST,Senoufou 09 Jan 17 - 06:45 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Jan 17 - 06:48 PM
GUEST,Senoufou 09 Jan 17 - 06:55 PM
Big Al Whittle 09 Jan 17 - 07:28 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Jan 17 - 07:43 PM
Jim Carroll 09 Jan 17 - 08:26 PM
Gurney 10 Jan 17 - 12:13 AM
meself 10 Jan 17 - 12:38 AM
GUEST,Brenda 10 Jan 17 - 03:19 AM
punkfolkrocker 10 Jan 17 - 03:41 AM
The Sandman 10 Jan 17 - 03:53 AM
GUEST,padgett 10 Jan 17 - 04:29 AM
David Carter (UK) 10 Jan 17 - 05:12 AM
banjoman 10 Jan 17 - 06:26 AM
Steve Shaw 10 Jan 17 - 07:24 AM
GUEST,Senoufou 10 Jan 17 - 07:47 AM
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Subject: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 12:56 PM

I understand that Blacked up Morris dancers were abused in Birmingham uk, does anyone know if this is the truth?


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Snuffy
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 01:06 PM

Yes, it happened


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 01:14 PM

I have no reason to doubt the reports, Dick, in the same way I have no reason to doubt that this will turn into another of those 'PC gone mad' stories that inflames and divides with no real benefit.

For the record, I used to black up for the Abram Pace Egg play but I will no longer do so as I believe that it could be offensive to some and there are better alternatives. I do accept all the arguments about tradition and so on however and would never dream of preventing anyone else from doing just as they wish in this area.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: keberoxu
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 01:32 PM

"Plough Monday." Shows how ignorant I am, never heard of it.
Would be nice not to get too emotional here. Good luck with that though.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 01:32 PM

I have only one reason to doubt the reports, which is that they were in the Telegraph which has form in this area.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 01:38 PM

It is also in the Birmingham Post or some such, David. Mind you, they could both be using a dodgy source!

DtG


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 01:43 PM

If people find blacking up offensive then they are stark raving bonkers.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 01:47 PM

It seems to me that the Morris Dancers have been assaulted and that Peace has been breached. The assailants should be prosecuted.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 01:54 PM

Seeing it is close to Christmas maybe they are wassailants?

:D tG


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: meself
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 02:03 PM

Funny though, in this day and age, that although they provide photos and video of the Dancers dancing and everyone enjoying themselves, they don't provide any indicating any kind of trouble ....


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 02:42 PM

Well the idea offends me, though I have no right not to be offended. However, attacks on participants are just wrong. A good, paganistic, Celtic solution would be to use woad instead. What's not to like!


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 02:59 PM

Probably a good article to copy and paste:

Morris dancers forced to abandon performance after being accused of racism over traditional black face paint, witnesses say

Telegraph Reporters
8 JANUARY 2017 • 4:23PM

A group of Morris dancers were forced to abandon a performance after they were accused of being racist and threatened over their traditional black face paint, it has been claimed.

The Alvechurch group were heckled by a handful of onlookers during performances on two city centre streets near the Bullring in Birmingham on Saturday, witnesses said.

The dancers were one of more than a dozen groups which were there to celebrate Plough Monday, the traditional start of the agricultural year.

They arrived at 11am and had performed without incident in pubs, to groups of local and visiting football fans and to shoppers.

But a source close to the group said: "The atmosphere had been great with the vast majority of people, but I was absolutely amazed by the vitriolic abuse they started to receive.

"The issues began when they started dancing near to the Bull outside the Bullring and later near to Marks & Spencer. They were roundly abused and threatened with violence.

"One lady was particularly angry and a group of young men started to become very abusive and confrontational, accusing them of being racists, which of course they are not.

"They started jumping in between the dancers and knocking off their hats. The dancers tried to explain why their faces were painted black, but they would not listen.

"They tried in vain to explain but things took such a turn for the worse that the performances had to be abandoned."

The group formed in 1989 and its dancers dress in black with black painted faces. Morris dancers have performed with black face make-up since the origins of the dancing tradition in the 16th century.

Known as "Border Morris", the tradition sees performers wearing a full-face of black paint in order to disguise themselves.

One theory is that it started when impoverished 16th-century farm workers had to conceal their faces to avoid being recognised while begging during winter, as asking for money was illegal.

The alleged incidents come after Shrewsbury Folk Festival bosses announced last year that it will no longer book acts who wear full black face paint.

Equality group Fairness, Respect, Equality Shropshire (Fresh) said the ban showed sensitivity "to a changed social climate". But Morris dancers say there were "no racial connotations" and they had "never wanted to upset people".


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 03:24 PM

Sure Joe, but another theory is that the blackface was developed in the 15th century as mimicry of Moorish customs. The Wikipedia page on border morris gives several possibilities. So there could have been racial overtones in medieval times, we really don't know.

This is what annoys me about the Telegraph, it picks out "One Theory" which accords with its own worldview, and ignores others which don't.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 03:43 PM

Funny that we should castigate the memory of the ghastly Black and White Minstrels yet defend this. As I said, carry on. Just use woad.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 04:11 PM

I agree with Steve. If black offends (I don't think it should, as it's not the intention, but no-one wants to hurt people's feelings) then another colour would do just as well. Woad or red (like Red Leicester Morris) or dark green.
I also think that if people were assaulting the Morris dancers in Birmingham by knocking their hats off etc and causing a disturbance, it's a matter for the Police.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 04:49 PM

I'm with Senoufou on this. Doing something just because it's traditional and for no other reason lacks sense. Traditions that are worth anything at all should be adaptable and evolve with the times.

However to put another point of view entirely, for something to offend it has to actually be offensive, i.e., be demonstrated to be derogatory in some way. The only part of the performance that could be in any way construed as racist is the colouring, the rest of the costume, the dances themselves, the equipment, have nothing to do with any form of racism. If any racism was intended surely the people taking offence would be able to see other evidence in the costume, the dances etc. Are actors on stage and in operas being racist when they put on make-up? I think lack of understanding is part of the problem here.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 04:52 PM

It was Birmingham.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 04:59 PM

What do you mean "It was Birmingham." Steve? We know it was.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 04:59 PM

Hi, David - I have mixed opinions, myself. I did get a chuckle out of the Telegraph's "which of course they are not." I certainly wouldn't express myself with such certainty.

I just don't know. I don't think much would be lost by removing the tradition of blackface from Morris. When I was a kid in Detroit in the 1950s, we would dress up as "bums" for Halloween and blacken our faces with burnt cork. I don't think we imagined ourselves as mimicking African-Americans, just dirty bums (American usage of the word "bum."). But I'm sure kids wouldn't do that now.

For too many people in two many cultures, blackface is associated with minstrel shows, which systematically demeaned African-Americans in very cruel fashion for decades. Maybe Morris blackface has different roots (and maybe not); but for many people, all they can think of is demeaning minstrel shows when they see blackface, no matter how much others try to deny it. So, is it worth it to fight to preserve the blackface tradition?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 05:07 PM

Doing something just because it's traditional and for no other reason lacks sense. Traditions that are worth anything at all should be adaptable and evolve with the times

On that logic an awful lot of traditional songs need bowdlerising.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 05:13 PM

Well said Joe and others. I used to be a staunch defender of blacking up but do not think this position is defensible any more. Time to move on. Lots of other options available that would not cause offence


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Senoufou
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 05:15 PM

I often fantasise that my (very) black husband and his many brothers took up Border Morris dancing and formed a side together. They could dance out in Birmingham and thoroughly confuse the 'Offended'.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 05:25 PM

Two of the musicians in the photo clearly don't have 'full face' blacking, the other two have none on their necks and none have any on their hands.

A larger concern to me, for the future and in many contexts, is whether or not the 'offended' were a social media co-ordinated mini mob.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: meself
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 05:37 PM

Any photos or video yet?


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 05:43 PM

Hi Guest,
Absolutely. An awful lot of traditional songs do need bowdlerising and we do so frequently unless we're particularly presenting historical accuracy in an academic way.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Thompson
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 05:47 PM

Yup.

Speaking as an absolute cultural outsider on this, so you need pay no attention to my gut feeling, the blackface used in the video makes me feel queasy and cringe.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 05:48 PM

Birmingham is a city of massive ethnic diversity. Doing silly dances pretending to be black men quite possibly isn't the ideal thing to be doing in Birmingham if peace and quiet is your target.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Thompson
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 05:49 PM

I'm just imagining going past these guys with my friend's two little grandchildren by the hand - one whose skin is the colour of black coffee with a tiny dash of milk, the other with caramel skin, green eyes and red hair. I don't think I'd feel at all comfortable trying to explain what was going on.

Perhaps when society has matured enough that black skin is no more remarkable than blue eyes it'll be ok, but that's then, this is now.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 05:56 PM

Ah, I see Steve. So when the Sheringham Potty Festival of Morris dancing takes place in July, the reason there isn't any kerfuffle about 'blacking up' is because Norfolk hasn't much ethnic diversity. That's a very interesting point. I'm wondering if the 'offended protesters' in Birmingham were black themselves though. I bet they weren't!

I always wish potential 'offended parties' would ask the folk on whose behalf they protest if they mind. They probably aren't terribly bothered.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Thompson
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 06:20 PM

I think they were, though the faces are blurred out in the video I posted, Senoufou.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: meself
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 06:24 PM

Thanks for the link. It does indicate some unpleasantness, obviously - but no assault. Not saying that there wasn't any, but .....


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 06:36 PM

Yes Thompson, I've just watched it and I think you're right.

They did sound very upset, but wouldn't listen to the Morris dancers' attempts to explain. As Steve has said, using blue or another colour face paint would have prevented all this unpleasantness.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 06:37 PM

It's the same here, Senoufou. Hardly a black face to be seen in Bude. But I have lived and worked for more than half my life in inner cities in which sensibilities may be very different. A lot of this is to do with wanting to behave with respect. It doesn't really hurt to ditch "standing on principle on behalf of the tradition" and use woad instead, does it? Actually, tradition dictated that we hanged people for sheep-stealing if I remember rightly! Why not subject Morris blacking-up to the folk process? 😉


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: GUEST,SB
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 06:40 PM

Photos are here:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4100032/Traditional-Morris-Dancers-forced-abandon-city-centre-performance-accused-racist-painting-faces-black.html

There's a video on YouTube - somewhere.

The assailants have been described as 'Asian' - this is UK mainstream media code for 'Muslims.' It is evident that Morris dancing is deemed a pagan ritual and therefore 'haram.' It is therefore well against Sharia Law which takes precedence over UK Law, so active protests are allowed and tolerated.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 06:45 PM

Well my husband is a Muslim and has danced with many different Morris sides after being invited to do so while spectating! He's never said it's a sin or 'haram'. He has said he felt a right wally, but that's just because he's a bit shy.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 06:48 PM

Yes, careful how you go on this one, Guest SB.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 06:55 PM

Joe posted for me some photos of aforementioned husband posing with blacked-up Morris folk on the previous thread about this matter. I wonder if anyone could be a technological wizard and transfer them to this thread, just to show the obvious goodwill on both sides?


No, Senoufou. I did that as an exception....once. As a rule, embedded images are not allowed at Mudcat. Feel free to link to the thread (I couldn't find it).
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 07:28 PM

A L Lloyd advanced the idea in Folksong in England was that it was about the spirits riches of the earth. the black faces of miners, black imps...the dance as a fertility ritual for the mineral riches of the earth - and how they are mined in darkness by men with black faces, who are friends to the darkness.

the PC bullies have done so much damage to England - making the labour party unelectable for reasons of ideological purity that morris dancing is small potatoes, i'm too old to care.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 07:43 PM

Maybe, Al, but what it looks like to ordinary people is pretty important too. When you do Morris, or folksong, or sculpture or photos or paintings (see Lewis Carroll thread), you are speaking to ordinary people, the layman if you like, who is probably not familiar with the history of the tradition like we are. They are not ignorant but they are simply not steeped. That communication done without obfuscation is what art is all about. You don't have to make it easy but you do have to provide a path. I've never believed that there's any such thing as PC, just common decency and sensitivity.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Jan 17 - 08:26 PM

"the PC bullies have done so much damage to England -"
Not really Al.
While I have never had a problem with blacking up for Morris (though I always did find the Bacup Nutters a bit bizarre,) I understand that some people can take genuine offence from them.
For all the pseudo-academic claims about Wizards, many of these "traditions" date no further than the nineteenth century, when the Empire was in full swing and it was commonplace to take the piss out of "darkies" and "coons" and the older ones go back into the slavery period when blacks were no more than beasts of burden.
More recently, we've had Brexit being immediately followed by a sharp rise in racist attacks and people of "colour" being asked when they are "going home".
Try putting yourself in an immigrant unfamiliar with these practices before you start throwing your "PC"toys out of the pram - explanation goes miles further than outrage, in my experience.
I'm often surprised why some of these traditions haven't gone the way of The Black and White Minstrel Show or "The Nigger Minstrels" or even Andy Capp or Punch and Judy (a bit of good old traditional comic domestic violence and abuse - always good for a laugh)
Something being old or "traditional" doesn't mean it isn't offensive to some people.
Wonder how we would raect to an Asian comic act showing a stereotype flat-capped Englishman staggering home from the boozer and kicking the shit out of his wife and kids - not well, I suspect
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Gurney
Date: 10 Jan 17 - 12:13 AM

The last time I saw The Black and White Minstrels I realised that one of the guys WAS a negro.
Didn't bother me at all. Amused me slightly.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: meself
Date: 10 Jan 17 - 12:38 AM

And you're Black - right?


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: GUEST,Brenda
Date: 10 Jan 17 - 03:19 AM

It was on the local BBC news and they did interview some people. The concensus on that was about 50/50. THe morris side in question are yet to make a statement.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 10 Jan 17 - 03:41 AM

We've done this to death on previous threads..

but.. if a blackface morris is so stupid enough to believe it can transplant it's dubious tradition from rural conservative Cowshitshire
to the metropolitan multicultural centre of 21st century England's 2nd city..
at such a time of post brexit intensified 'us versus them' mistrust and tensions...
... without attracting any complaints or protest...?????

Goes beyond sheer naivety.. to almost verging on deliberate arrogant willful provocation...????????????? 😬


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Jan 17 - 03:53 AM

"Wonder how we would raect to an Asian comic act showing a stereotype flat-capped Englishman staggering home from the boozer and kicking the shit out of his wife and kids - not well, I suspect"
It depends how well the comic act was performed, i might laugh i might be bored.
There is absolutely no need for morris dancers to be attacked or violently abused, on the other hand if they covered their faces with any other colour it would stop the problem.
Some might argue why should they change colour, after all it is not racial discrimination, no one is being segregated or made to sit in a certain part of a bus, some people then argue it causes offence, but then it could also be argued offence is in the eye of the beholder.
    if we took these arguments to extremes....Should the New Zealand rugby team be prevented from doing their war dance, because it is a tribal war dance and therefore divisive and anti another tribe.
should the derby tup be stopped because it might be offensive to vegetarians., or an onlooking sensitive ewe or ram.
I leave this decision to those that have a direct link to god and communicate with him regularly, like Joe Offer.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 10 Jan 17 - 04:29 AM

Surely the tradition of blacking up was to do with being in disguise ~

from which the word geezer comes ~ whilst cadging drinks and money from

all and sundry and flirting with the ladies ~ if people are offended

they are lacking in knowledge of the tradition ~ not the same as black

and white minstrels by a good bit

The crowds apart from the pc brigade represented by the offended woman

(god 'elp us with pc people!) would probably be usual sort of football "fans" out for a Sunday drink ~ owt for a laugh" against this "dancers"

Ray


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 10 Jan 17 - 05:12 AM

Not sure about the Derby GSS, but there are a good number of people who would like to see the Grand National stopped because it is cruel to horses (too many of whom have died in the race recently).

padgett: that it is to do with disguise is a theory, but it isn't clear. Have a look at the Wikipedia page on Border Morris.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: banjoman
Date: 10 Jan 17 - 06:26 AM

senoufou - how would people react if your husband and his brothers were to "White up"
I think this PC business has really gone too far and some element of common sense is now needed urgently.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 10 Jan 17 - 07:24 AM

All well and good, Ray, but surely we don't expect everyone who sees Morris dancers to have comprehensive knowledge of the tradition. I love ballet and go whenever I can, but I don't know anything about the technicalities of the dance or the traditions involved. Nor is my duty to know, though I'm aware that a bit of knowledge would enhance my enjoyment. Morris dancing in the street is likely to attract mostly casual passers-by who can't be expected to deeply interpret what they're seeing. And what's wrong with woad anyway.


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Subject: RE: blacked up morris dancers abused in uk
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 10 Jan 17 - 07:47 AM

It would be a very interesting experiment banjoman! They do in fact 'white up' in Cote d'Ivoire for some traditional dances.

I think if woad or another colour were used, the Politically Correct Brigade would have the wind taken out of their sails. They'd probably feel a bit disappointed that there was no fight to be had.
I've often found in life that when someone gets on their soapbox looking for an argument, and one smiles, nods calmly and agrees with them, they look a bit downhearted!


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