A puppet that appeared in the popular Fremont Solstice Parade has made, with good reason, a number of people very unhappy. The huge thing looked like a mammy wearing a Rasta hat. It's alleged that the person inside of it was not black. KEXP DJ Riz Rollins posted about it on Facebook at 11 a.m. this morning, and went on the radio and talked about it with the local artist C Davida Ingram.
It's now 5 p.m., and the organizers of the parade, Fremont Arts Council, have not made an official statement about the racist puppet on their website, or Twitter account, or Facebook account. Why was it in the parade? Who permitted this to happen? Who is responsible? FAC? Also, this is not the first time that something racist has been a part of the parade. In 2012, a group of white people walked down the street in blackface.
Comments on Rollin's wall, supposedly made by a FAC member named Jeffrey Pierce, says the racist puppet was not an official part of the event. It just slipped in on its own, and they tossed it out as soon as they saw it.
But on FAC's Facebook wall, this point is made in a comment for the most recent post, which was made around 1 p.m. and is only about how the organization is already looking forward to next year's parade:
If you spend time reading through the thread on Riz Rollins' wall, you'll find at least 7 different people who saw the racist puppet at various stages of the parade, many of whom took pictures (showing it at different stages of the parade), as well as the night before. So, the FAC claims that the puppet was "kicked out" of the parade are inadequate. It was seen by lots of people over the course of the weekend, and it made its way back into the parade over and over again. FAC needed to do more, and it needs to do more now than just claiming to have "tried."
The FAC has yet to respond to the questions I sent about this very ugly business, but it finally posted a response about the incident on Facebook at the end of the day.
The Fremont Arts Council is deeply sorry for the distress caused by the puppet that appeared at the Fremont Solstice Parade yesterday.According to Jeffery Pierce, who is listed as a member of the council, the organization does not know the identity of the man inside the racist puppet. Nevertheless, the slowness of FAC's response to the public's outcry suggests they did not grasp the seriousness of this incident and the insult.
We were disappointed and dismayed that someone wearing a giant puppet that looked like a blackface caricature joined the parade this year. Our volunteer organization prides itself on being welcoming and inclusive. The man with the puppet was asked to leave the parade when we became aware of his presence. Racist imagery has no place in the parade and we are taking measures to prepare and empower parade monitors to respond more quickly and effectively so something like this never happens again.
If you can help us make these changes, please let us know via our website: http://fremontartscouncil.org/
We'll be adding language to our statement of values as an arts organization and clarifying the rules on what art is welcome at the parade. If you'd like to participate in crafting that language we'd be tremendously grateful. Please contact us.
We’re proud of the thousands of artists and performers who work every year to make the parade a community celebration for all. And we hope that this incident does not overshadow all of their heartfelt contributions. Thank you all for your comments and we vow to do everything we can to never repeat this painful experience.