Yesterday, I received a letter from someone who claimed to be the maker and puppeteer of the large mammy-looking thing that participated in the Solstice Parade on June 17. Though he did not provide his name, the president of the Fremont Arts Council (FAC), Susan Harper, confirmed the authenticity of the email. It was written by the man who made the puppet that many, including myself and FAC, see as racist. Harper, however, would not release his name. She thinks that is his business; and that their business, as an organization, is to figure out ways to prevent puppets of that nature from participating in future events. "I want to have a conversation with Black Lives Matter and other groups," Harper said over the phone, "so we can figure out a process, a way to check puppets that are deliberately racist as well as those that are not."
As for the letter from the anonymous puppeteer (who is white), Harper said he clearly isn't asking for forgiveness; he is only denying what he did. She has invited him to participate in the racial sensitivity training that FAC wants to institute.
And now, the letter:
Hi Charles Mudede,
I am the anonymous puppeteer who had the large black puppet in the Solstice Parade, and got such a public drubbing for being racist. I tried to post something on Facebook but it was deleted. I fully intended for my puppet to portray in the most positive and upful way the contribution of people of color to the celebratory spirit of humanity.
I danced hard for 2 hours and gave as much positive energy as I could to this quest.
One lady (white) came up at parade beginning and said that because I was white my puppet was racist—I was hurt surprised and shocked. I thought she was maybe a little nuts (from that Trump guy being president, all the shootings of black people, and the general rise of open racism recently). I told her I did not share her perspective on my puppet but she was having none of it: called my puppet trash, said I should drop out or I would be in big trouble, etc, and stormed off.
I met another woman who said I looked like "Eve Biologic"—the (African) mother of all humanity.
I liked this opinion much better needless to say. It reinforced my determination to make a positive contribution to the parade.
95% of the people I interacted with along the route were with me in the spirit of celebration. I traded "Happy Solstice!" and high 5s with my big foam rubber hands.
Behind me a bare assed Trump statue was flipping everyone off—was this why people thought I also was disrespecting them?
I never felt so misunderstood in my life.
I sadly have left Poquita over by the powerhouse with a note explaining my real intentions.
I wish you all the best in your struggle to fight racism and help the environment. I just hope in the future to stay out of the crossfire from reactionary liberals who are determined to see evil everywhere!
(remaining anonymous from fear of unearned reprisals)
As you can see, this man is totally clueless. He still thinks he knows better than anyone else how to represent a positive image of blackness (does this ring bell? Rachel Dolezal?). He even enjoyed being black (danced/shuffled his feet off) for a predominately white audience. As Harper said, he is in a state of denial (but it's also possible that Harper is in a state of denial, as the name of the puppet, Poquita, means "weak of mind and body" in Spanish). The puppeteer could be just a plain old racist.
Poquita was dumped outside a FAC storage facility with a Black Lives Matter sign in its hands.