Mandela Sanctions 'Blacking Up'

By Londonist_ben Last edited 133 months ago
Mandela Sanctions 'Blacking Up'

The phrase "it's PC gone mad!" usually comes from the mouths of those such as Bernard Manning, taxi drivers and the hairdresser who just cut this Londonista's hair who used the phrase with regard to immigrant children being allowed to go to 'our' schools. Yikes.

However, perhaps it applies with regard to an incident last week which left a Barnet councillor facing calls to resign after he 'blacked up' as part of his Nelson Mandela fancy dress attire.

The resourceful people at The Hendon Times got in contact with Nelson himself to see what he made of it all. His official spokeswoman Zelda la Grange told them,

We read the article with interest and I also discussed it with Mr Mandela who happened to be in the office this morning. We don't see any harm in this whatsoever. If it was a fancy dress party and people were expected to arrive as a character or famous person, we are convinced there was no ill intent behind this. Mr Mandela commented, however, about the choice of the shirt and said - tongue-in-cheek - that it was a rather awkward choice of shirt to resemble his usual shirts.

We're waiting for the headline in the Hendon Times,

Calls for councillor to be sacked after he takes the piss with an awkward choice of shirt

The thing is, Mandela knows his racism. Crudely 'blacking up', presenting a derogitory stereotype and taking the piss out of black people 'Black and White Minstrels' stylee is racist, but darkening your skin in order to dress up as Nelson at a party... it may be in poor taste but surely we've come far enough to get over ourselves a little bit. La Grange continued,

We are not oversensitive about matters like these ... we should try not to read racism into actions which may be completely innocent.

So next time you go to a fancy dress party, black up, go as Mandela and when someone looks up from their Guardian to tell you that you are a racist, proudly tell them that Nelson himself sanctioned your outfit and that they don't look at all like Sylvester Stallone.

Last Updated 02 April 2007


I don't understand why you say that it was in "poor taste"? If there was no ill intent (& I am convinced that there was not) what makes it poor taste? Anyone could find a reason why dressing up as anyone was in "poor taste" if they tried hard enough - toga party? Oooh no - dressing up as Romans would be insensitive to the Carthaginese whom they slaughtered a thousand years ago or so.............


While I personally agree that it is definitely not racist, the reason I said that it is in poor taste is that right or wrong, some people WILL find it offensive. While we all have the right to offend, in my view we should also steer clear from being gratuitively offensive.

Angry John

If you go around worrying all the time worrying about upsetting people, then you'll end up a very grey and opinionless person (I wasn't being racist there.. oops.. neither there... oh bugger.) My point is someone is always going to get upset when you say something about anything that people have an opinion on. This guy went to a fancy dress party as someone he admire, he was saying nothing negative about the person. if he went as a woman would that be sexist?


Alright Angry John you true maverick,

When do you ever go out into public doing something that is evident to everyone who looks at you that may offend many people?


But the point is that this saga hasn't offended 'many' people - I think most realise that it is nothing other than your opening line: 'PC gone mad'.

I think Angry John's comment about if he had been dressed as a woman whether that would have been sexist is spot on. It is all about the intent - otherwise Dame Edna Everage would have had a very short career span.


It's not about intent. Offense happens regardless of intent.

Angry John

I ride to work every day. I offend a lot of people doing that. I think I have both a persecution complex and I'm carist. I think this whole thing should be blamed on a slow news week... Journalists trying to whip up a storm over something