Mummblings: An Afterword

>>> Here is video linked from Slate of the Ferko performance, which for our benefit, doubles as a horrible race argument all over the comments. [YouTube]
>>> Jonathan Zimmerman over at Philly.com breaks down the inclusion of “drag queens” in the parade, its history, and what it means for the future. [Philly.com]
>>> And here’s a clip of Bill Anderson and Byko talking about Ferko and Venetian on Fox29, where Byko gets all into the specifics of what color everyone’s face was. [Fox29]
>>> Finally, there is this, which, after all the hullaballoo, is… notable:


  • NateFried

    I’m not saying this definitely does not resemble black face, but I am saying that if you look at the HDTV version below, it looks a lot less like black face… and definitely not an act of blatant racism. Still, I’m pretty sure no one had the intention to actually do blackface, or even something similar. The mummers have a review committee appointed, and many many people would have had seen this before it was run. With this version of the video, it looks a lot less like blackface… and more like clown make-up that could even resemble a hobo-like appearance. There is even varieties of face colors throughout the whole group. And if you look closely, I think there are one or two black people in there! Not just white… albeit, I can’t confirm that final statement.

  • rk

    please just stop. please. there were sambo figures, it was titled “bring back those minstrel days” and a float said “minstrel” on it. whether or not they used coal is missing the forest for the trees. why are you trying to deny those facts?!?

  • NateFried

    OK. You got me. I did some searching to learn more about minstrel. Dates back very far, and could be referred to a number of things. But digging to the obvious string band origins, I come across this basic wiki article about “Minstrel Shows”.

    They were shows that were comedic in nature, featured skits, played by white people in black face before the civil war, and some black people in black face after the civil war. They almost always presented black people in negative ways… including making them look lazy, dim witted, and happy-go-lucky.

    When I first saw it on HDTV, it just looked to me as a bunch of guys looking like hobos dancing and playing an old string band song, wearing different face colors…. and all the anger and hatred of everything Mummers that exploded on this website made me think that this was a over-reactive PC reaction… especially concerning the native american skit.

    I ask you good sir, just as I ask others when arguing a point. Please, utilize an enlightening way to persuade, not one of anger. Even after the long conversation in the previous post, it took me googling two days later and trying to learn more to realize what the problem was. For someone who does not know the history of minstrel shows in America, it takes those more informed to not yell, berate, or freak out… but instead enlighten others as to why something like this performance is insulting, negative, and downright wrong to perform. Simply mentioning “minstrel shows” does not always teach those who have no idea what they are or where they fit into history.

    Still, I stand by my previous sentiment that while this performance may be wrong and greater steps should put into place to prevent future mishaps like this… the Mummers, mummery, its history, and its tradition is something I fully support. Regardless what race predominantly celebrates it, it is something that has been a Philadelphia Tradition for many decades. It is a wacky celebration that I am proud to say only exists in Philadelphia. And as Philadelphia’s population changes and grows, I hope that the Mummers tradition does so as well, being adopted and adapted to the new generation.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minstrel_show

  • rk

    You need to understand, I don’t come to philebrity to argue or discuss issues of race. I was flabbergasted that anyone would defend an homage to minstrelry.

    You ask me to enlighten and persuade, and not to express my anger. Consider that maybe that’s not what I need/want. Consider that that puts you in the position of authority over how and why this discussion should happen. Any time where minstrel shows and homages to blackface are in that discussion, I’m angry. It insults and offends me. I want to stop the offending behavior, I don’t want to engage in a conversation with it. It’s so beyond the pale and so hurtful to me that I can’t simply give a history of minstrel shows, of what the song Mammy is about (you should look up what the song Mammy is about), or of the stereotypical Sambo figure.

    It should be the person who does not feel insulted and offended who takes the task of learning, of asking questions, of being respectful of the pain others feel, because that person’s emotions aren’t already in pain and at risk. It should not be the burden of the offended to not only deal with that pain and frustration, but now also teach the very people who either offended or defended that offense out of ignorance. Should, but almost never is. The proper response to someone who is offended is not to ask for logic and reason, but to try to empathize and see things through their eyes.

    Some who are offended are better at quickly focusing on logic instead of their emotional reaction, but they’re not the ones who should have to do all the work. Clearly, I’m one who doesn’t do well with dividing my emotional response to racial insensitivity from my logical response. Or maybe I don’t write good blog comments. Either way, it’s not my job to teach you. It’s your job to educate yourself. It’s a great person who can empathize, be offended, and still try to persuade and engage. I’m just a good person :)

    I’d like a Philadelphia where the Mummers who don’t do homages to minstrel shows, who don’t insult native americans for a cheap joke and who love the city get that parade all to their damn selves. But for roughly 100 years, they’ve been mixing with another set of Mummers who out of racial hatred or racial ignorance do that over and over and over again. How many chances to fix that do they deserve? Why won’t other Mummer brigades stand up and say they’re disgusted and offended by an homage to minstrel shows, to Sambo figures, to the tomahawk chop, and to the rasta black(brown?is that how they got away with it?)face? That’d be a Mummery I’d be proud of.

  • NateFried

    Fair enough. May peace be with you. Thank you for the explanation and sorry for the defense out of ignorance.