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White people 'blacking up' at famous bonfire celebration

PICTURED: White people ‘black up’ as Zulus at the bonfire party each year (Photo credit: Wessex News)

A PETITION has been launched to stop white people 'blacking up' as Zulu warriors at the Lewes bonfire, The Daily Mail reports.

An annual celebration which takes place in Sussex, is one of the biggest in the country and many dress up as spear-carrying Zulus to mark the occasion.

Campaign group 'Bonfire Against Racism' has called it a 'racist act' and asked the Borough Bonfire Society to 'stop painting faces black'.

The petition has since gained over 1,200 signatures.

The petition said: "The decision of a small fraction of the membership of Borough Bonfire Society to engage in the offensive practice of blacking up runs counter to the overall spirit of the event.

"This public display of caricatured, negative stereotypes of black Africans within our community is racist and serves only to increase tension and division within our diverse community.

"We ask Borough Bonfire Society to consider the adverse effect this action has on members of the Lewes community, however unintended they might be, and call on them to cease this practice with immediate effect."

"Painting a face poster-paint black is very much a caricature," a spokeswoman for the group commented. ‘It’s important to show our children perpetuating racial stereotypes is nothing to do with Bonfire Night."

This year, the marchers are joined by Zulu Tradition, a group of dancer from the South African province of KwaZulu Natal.

According to the Daily Mail, Borough's Chairman Jason Winter said the views expressed on the site were 'ignorant and arrogant' and the Zulus had been part of the Bonfire tradition for decades.

He said: 'Just how far do you take 'political correctness'?'

He said the Zulu dancers from KwaZulu Natal 'certainly don't find what we do offensive'.
Writing on Twitter today Richard Lindley said: 'When the Lewes Martyrs were burned alive 460 years ago they were protesting against bigotry and intolerance.

"When white people black up now, it's exactly the kind of bigotry the Martyrs gave their lives to oppose.

"It's stupid, it's offensive, it's racist and it's the opposite of what bonfire is supposed to commemorate.

"When did bonfire stop being about true history and start being about what your grandparents wore? That isn't tradition. Help make it stop."

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