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It Is 2017, Let's Finally Put Blackface To Bed

06/02/2017 13:13 GMT | Updated 06/02/2017 13:13 GMT

The comedic potential of blackface was realized by vice chairman of Belford Parish Council in Northumberland, Councillor Ian Carruthers. In an innovative and inspiring costume choice, the councillor decided to dress as a Golliwog for a costume party and post a picture on his social media. The golliwog is an icon now soaked with racist connotations towards black people. It's not 'political correctness gone mad' to hope that Carruthers would be reprimanded in some way. However, Northumberland County Council said that the costume was related to "the councillor's private life and not to his role as a parish councillor" and therefore there would be no punishment.

The decision is an unsurprising one, and in a way to be expected. Whilst it might not seem explicitly racist to Carruthers and co to dress up as a golliwog, the history of blackface shows that it is intended to make people of colour feel subordinate.

I'm the son of a black father and a white mother living in North Lincolnshire which is hardly a multi-cultural hot spot of the UK. Seeing blackface on Facebook is an issue that comes up time and time again. Recently, I saw somebody share a picture of a relative blacked up as the rapper Ice Cube with the caption stating how funny it was. The white man in question was coated in dark paint, wearing a tracksuit, and even had to accessorise with a name tag that said 'Ice Cube'. The easiest solution to avoid the potential mix up (and the racism) would have been for him to ditch the exaggerated use of fake tan and go as the white rapper Eminem.

Some people do not seem to understand is how offensive blacking up actually is. We should all feel bored of some white people using different skin colours as a comedic device - it's hurtful rather than humorous. It is 2017; Isn't it time to put black face to bed and leave casual racism firmly in the past?

In a worldwide political climate dominated by divide through Trump, Brexit and rising nationalism, we have to embrace diversity more than ever. The UK is a multi-cultural society and one that I am proud to be a part of, but I don't want to see people getting away with racist acts like blackface all in the name of humour. It's neither funny, nor shocking. It is an act directly linked with racism of the past and one that should not be passively condoned in the 21st Century.

Obviously, people of colour provide such inspiration that it might seem irresistible to engage with this through a fancy-dress costume, but maybe think again. Go as Ginger Spice instead of a Geisha, Ali G rather than Jay Z and if you are after something more nostalgic, Andy Pandy as an alternative to a golliwog. Just please, for your own sake, don't bring out the face paint.