Harmless costumes or cultural appropriation?

7 Nov

On Friday night I went to the famous bonfire celebrations in Lewes, just outside Brighton. The town has a really old and strange tradition of marching fire processions every 5th November, in memory of Guy Fawkes’ failed gunpowder plot. It was like being in a crazy, drunken war zone, with firecrackers going off everywhere and people dragging barrels of fire and tar down the streets. It is basically one of the weirdest and most fascinating things I have ever been to, in terms of social observation. One of the reasons for that is the costumes that each “bonfire society” chose to wear for the processions. There were pirates, medieval monks, regency figures, pearly kings and queens… and then there were zulus (blurry pictures above), native americans and even societies in blackface.

I had been warned that Lewes was quite – how shall I put it – “insular” before I went, so I wasn’t that shocked, but this incredibly open and unapologetic racism did make me uncomfortable. Other people have written on the subject of cultural appropriation much better than I ever could, so if you’re interested, please read this excellent post and this excellent post from truly awesome blog a l’allure garconniere. Also, good article on blackface here.

I would like to blog more about racism over the coming months, but I might have to work up to it, since I find it harder to talk about. But I’d really like to thank all of my readers so far who have been stopping by to peruse my posts! If there is any one particular topic or feature you would like to see more of, let me know! I am going to work on lining up some more Girl Swoons soon…

Thanks again and have a great week!

hanna ♥

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