Newell: Zulu blackface controversy - what really matters

Newell Normand
February 21, 2019 - 12:08 pm

There's a curious twist in this Zulu debate. Take 'Em Down NOLA, the organization that spoke out in support of former Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s action in taking down Civil War statues throughout the city, takes another controversial stand. Take 'Em Down NOLA now demands the elimination of the Krewe of Zulu’s decades-long tradition of wearing blackface while masking on Fat Tuesday.

Malcolm Suber, Take 'Em Down NOLA spokesperson, says, “It is no longer tenable for Zulu to pretend that wearing blackface is not reinforcing racist stereotyping of Black people.”

Zulu parade organizers say that the blackening of faces was done in lieu of wearing masks, because it was cheaper to do so. More importantly, the custom has no connection to “blackface” minstrel performers in the late 1800’s and 1900’s.

Obviously, Zulu organizers have made the case relative to the context in which they wear blackface and therefore have no intention of changing their policy.

INTENT and CONTEXT does matter!

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