In one of the blackest cities in the country, white people are trying to convince us all that Philadelphia’s minstrelsy-thick Mummers Parade is not racist by dressing in every color painted face they can get away with and verbally bullying #BlackLivesMatter protesters with insults and mudslinging rife with “the N word.” The racist backlash comes in response to the planned Philly Coalition for REAL Justice rally scheduled at the same time as the parade underway as of Friday morning. So far, three rally participants have been arrested, including two of its organizers.
— Walt Weber (@WaltWeberJr) January 1, 2015
“You know, compared to previous years the Mummers Parade hasn’t been nearly as offens—” pic.twitter.com/ag08ZReXyJ
— Dan McQuade (@dhm) January 1, 2016
— ::brittany:nicole:: (@brittanynb) January 1, 2016
Considered possibly the oldest folk festival in the United States, the Mummers Parade was started by Scandinavian, European and African immigrants in the mid-17th century based on the tradition of Mummers (amateur actors) putting on performances in small clubs, salons and homes the day after Christmas. Eventually, the custom spread up through New Year’s Day, culminating in Philadelphia’s modern custom of the annual Mummers Parade on the first of the year, which takes place not merely in people’s homes or private clubs but largely right out in the open, in the heart of the city, and City Hall, on 2nd Street.
Being largely based in silliness and stemming from so far back in American history, many of the amateur actors, made up of average citizens, typically wore blackface. The practice was allegedly curbed in 1964 after protesters led by the NAACP pressured the city into giving up the formal inclusion of blackface in the parade, but the practice, while not officially sanctioned, still occurs year after year, even as recently as 2015. This year, one should not expect any different. The tradition of blackface goes back so far that even founding father and first president of the United States, George Washington, participated.
And Philadelphia’s Mummers Parade isn’t just vilely racist, it’s also misogynistic, too. “Wenches” have long been a comical element of the parade, almost always played by men. Women were not even allowed in the parade, themselves, until the 70s. In recent years, the Mummers Parade has mocked the #BlackLivesMatter movement in numerous ways, including many people carrying signs that read, “WENCH LIVES MATTER!”
But participants in the Mummers Parade want #BlackLivesMatter and the rest of America to know that their parade is not racist, which is exactly why they are filling the Mummers Parade Justice Rally’s Facebook event page, created by the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice, with N-bombs and other racist drivel, sprinkled with misogyny, and dumping all their white privilege right into the lap of irony. Underlining that point even further is that the justice rally isn’t even being hosted by #BLM. The rally only seeks to include #BLM as one of several issues protesters intend to focus on.
Furthermore, protesters hadn’t even said they were going to shut the parade down, but merely host their own protest during the parade. The Justice Rally’s page states, “Bring your signs, banners and noise makers to the Mummers parade and let’s represent for the issues that matter to our communities! Our goal is to pack the stands and the parade route around city hall with people representing for…” #BlackLivesMatter in a city 48% black, funding public schools, fighting for a $15 minimum wage, dumping Trump, immigration rights and explosive oil trains.
The page states explicitly that the goal is not to disrupt the parade, nor even protest the parade, itself, but use the occasion for showcasing the Coalition’s assortment of issues to as wide an audience as possible.
Yet somehow the majority of responses to those angry with the Justice Rally are heinously racist in nature and address the #BLM movement not only specifically, but by and large, solely. Many also comment as if they hadn’t read through the page enough to understand that no one is protesting the parade (though it is certainly a worthy target), or trying to block it whatsoever. Some commenters are even savvy enough to blend their racism with their misogyny by calling protesters “pussies.”
That’s not even close to the worst of it, though. Take a look below:
Need to see more to believe your eyes?
Criticisms of Mummers are so wide and well known it’s no longer well attended and openly mocked by Philly’s saner residents. Drunk white people in blackface acting out in public, pissing all over the place, on everything – enough is enough.
Imagine the consequences of a mob of drunken black people pissing all over downtown around city hall. This tired, antiquated parade needs to go the way of the history books. The bells are ringing and the death knell is near, especially when one considers the character of so many of its participants. Let’s make 2016 the year Philadelphia finally wakes up to its racist past and squashes the Mummers Parade once and for all. Those in love with parades can always come up with a new one that doesn’t spit in the face of not only black people everywhere, but what this country is supposed to be about. Time to grow up and take a step forward, Philadelphia. While your efforts to put immigrants right up front this year feigns the right direction, the parade is still backed up by plenty of anti-immigrant and racist participants.
Thankfully, there are some who have opened their eyes to the Mummer tradition in Philadelphia:
Philly, brown face and transgender jokes are racist, transphobic, embarrassing for the city and not satire #MummersParade
— Drew Grande (@grandrew24) January 1, 2016
— mindy isser (@mindyisser) January 1, 2016
— Ted Howell (@tedwardhowell) January 1, 2016
In the meantime, those inclined to take action can follow the links to the profile pages of some of the most vile racist offenders, below. Their place of employment may find their hobby hating on social media at odds with their commercial interests.