LGBT activists have written an open letter urging Prides to stop booking blackface acts
“We must come together as a community and stand up to racism as well as homophobia.”
Following recent controversy over Durham Pride booking a white act who darkens her skin to perform as Beyonce, UK Black Pride have joined forces with other key figures in the LGBT community to write a strongly worded open letter to Prides across the country.
The letter states:
“We as LGBTQIA+ activists, organisations, individuals and allies are appalled to witness that Pride festivals across the country continue to book and promote acts that perpetuate racist stereotypes.
“Blackface is a form of racism that dehumanises Black people turning them into objects that can be ‘performed’. It is a modern form of minstrelsy and has no place at Pride.”
The letter describes the issue as “an embarrassing stain on the LGBTQIA+ community” and suggests ways UK Pride festivals can help fight instead of perpetuate racism. They encourage Prides to diversify their programmes to include BAME LGBTQIA+ performers, to sign up to the Stop Rainbow Racism Code of Practice and to attend UK Black Pride on Sunday 9 July.
The letter has been signed by hundreds of members of the community, including award-winning activist Chardine Taylor-Stone, UK Black Pride co-founder and DIVA columnist Phyll Opoku-Gyimah and DIVA publisher Linda Riley.
The letter ends by stressing the importance of this issue:
“In the last year we have seen homophobia and racism rise dramatically, these struggles are connected, they often stem from the same hatred of difference. The repercussions of this have been particularly felt by BAME LGBTQs. We must come together as a community and stand up to racism as well as homophobia so that every LGBTQIA+ person in the UK feels welcome at their local Pride to celebrate their love and lives.”
LGBT charity Stonewall has also issued a statement on the subject of blackface acts being booked for Pride festivals:
"It has no place in society, let alone at Pride events, where LGBT people and allies should feel free to be their authentic selves.
This Pride season, let’s learn from these lessons together, and ensure that all LGBT people feel proud, and that no one feels left out or excluded."
You can read it in full here.
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