It’s been decades of a tradition at the annual carnival celebration in the Northern French coastal city of Dunkirk. Every year there is a company that dressed up as ‘native’ to the costume play part. Against it are now different groups in rebellion.
Skirts of straw, and necklaces with bones, roodgestifte lips and big feathers in the hair. The annual ” nuit des noirs’ (night of the blacks), and in the meantime become a fixed part of the centuries-old carnival parade in Dunkirk, lures every time a lot of attention.
In the wake of the violent zwartepietendiscussie in the Netherlands, however, are also in Dunkirk action groups in which strong criticism of the traditional parade. They demand that the stereotype costume play to the past.
One of these is the Conseil représentatif des associations noires de France”, the Council of black associations in France. ‘Walk around as blackface is not only an act of racism, it is closely linked to crimes against humanity, such as slavery’, argued president Louis-Georges Tin last weekend in an open letter in the French daily Le Monde.
The French campaign groups have been asking for a meeting with Patrice Vergriete, mayor of Dunkirk, in which they have their point of view want to clarify. Who wants to be there, however, nothing of failing, and refuses to campaigners even received.
“During carnival we make of everything and everyone is a caricature, we mock each other. Women dress as men, men walk around in a dress and with a wig, workers pretend they are bankers, and atheists are for a day long clergy, ” wrote Vergriete, in turn, in a submitted piece in Le Monde. “That makes carnival just as much fun.’ According to him, there is no question of racism, but expresses the party just friendship and tolerance.
The answer is Tin not impressed. ‘Blacks are presented here as demonic cannibals. If this continues, we continue with our protests. How can you enjoy a party like that for others painful?”
The Northern French port of Dunkirk, taken together with Nice, as the carnavalstad, par excellence, of our southern neighbours. The highlight is the traditional procession on the 14th of February, in which the giants Reuze Papa and Reuzine together with the Visschersbende by the town.