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Philadelphia mayor disqualifies Mummers group after two members wore blackface

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has disqualified a mummers group after at least two members wore blackface paint to the city’s annual Mummers parade on New ...
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Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has disqualified a mummers group after at least two members wore blackface paint to the city’s annual Mummers parade on New Year’s Day.

CNN affiliate KYW interviewed two of the men in blackface who said they were dressed as Philadelphia Flyers’ mascot Gritty, the group’s theme.

“It has nothing to do about being racist to the black person or the white person or the yellow person. Whatever. It’s our tradition,” one man told the station.

When asked why wear blackface, another man told KYW, “Cause I like it … Why not?”

CNN has not been able to reach the men in KYW’s video.

Kenney said in a tweet on Wednesday the use of blackface was “abhorrent and unacceptable.”

“This selfish, hateful behavior has no place in the Mummers, or the city itself. We must be better than this. The group was disqualified and we will be exploring additional penalties,” Kenney said.

According to the parade website, mummers are costumed entertainers that celebrate the new year. The Mummers Parade dates back nearly 120 years in Philadelphia.

Blackface invokes a racist and painful history. It’s origins date back to minstrel shows of the mid-19th century. White performers darkened their skin with shoe polish and burnt cork and put on tattered clothing, exaggerating their features to look stereotypically “black.”

The first minstrel shows mimicked enslaved Africans on Southern plantations, depicting black people as lazy, cowardly, ignorant or hypersexual, according to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The performances were intended to be funny for white audiences.

“Given the choice to use orange, white or black face paint — or any combination of the three — they chose to do a full face of black paint. In 2020 there is no excuse for not understanding why that is a problem. It is blackface, plain and simple,” Lauren Cox, a spokeswoman for Kenney’s office said in a statement.

CNN reached out to the organizers of the Philadelphia Mummers Parade and to the Froggy Carr club but has not yet heard back.