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Blackface leads to shame face in Hawera
Photo Credit: D Ngarewa Packer

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Blackface leads to shame face in Hawera
Martyn 'Bomber' Bradbury

I looked at the photo, thought I must be seeing things, rubbed my eyes, looked again and just shook my head in disbelief. The photo of New Zealanders wearing blackface at the Hawera Community Parade outraged many righteously.

The grim and racist history of people mocking African-Americans using blackface is so well documented you simply assume that everyone knows it's utterly unacceptable in modern society. The ignorance displayed in doing it was one thing, the initial sorry response from officials was another and just as disappointing.

Lions Club retorted that no offence was meant and that people were being too 'precious' and 'politically correct'. Firstly, responding in outrage at such a blatantly ignorant display of racism isn't 'precious' nor is it an issue of 'political correctness', it is the obligation of every educated and socially conscious citizen, secondly, the right response when called out on something like this is to listen, not tell everyone else their anger is wrong.

I want to point out that the Lions Club do an amazing job at charity fund raising and that those involved weren't being malicious in the use of blackface and that what started out as an attempt at inclusion ended up doing the exact opposite. THIS is why including Māori at the table when these decisions are being made is so crucial and rather than all piling on with lots of anger, let's make this a learning opportunity rather than a condemning one.

The desire for inclusion by the Community of Hawera was an admirable one, but it can only find fruit if Māori were consulted at the beginning.

 

Martyn Bradbury

Editor - TheDailyBlog.co.nz

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