Sunday, February 17, 2019
When one of New Orleans' most cherished parades rolls next month, float riders -- African-American and white -- will greet the screaming throngs wearing lofty feather headdresses, crinkly grass skirts and the sort of black face paint that most anywhere else might draw gasps and cries of racism. Some 1,500 men and women, their faces blackened, will ride along 4.5 miles of the city's most storied avenues in the full light of Mardi Gras morning as part of the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club's annual parade. They'll mug for TV cameras and snap social media selfies, all while sporting makeup similar in appearance to the kind that in recent weeks has sparked a national firestorm.
After resurfacing in long-buried archives, photos of white officials -- Virginia's governor, Florida's secretary of state and police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana -- in blackface drew swift mea culpas. So did clothing gaffes on the theme involving singer Katy Perry and the fashion houses Gucci and Prada. Calls for resignations and boycotts are still going strong.
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