When I set up Chrome Chronicles just over a year ago, I fully intended for the blog to be on the whole a positive and happy corner of the internet for all members of the pole community. One where we can compare our pole struggles, where I can fully employ my self-deprecating humour and just generally build a funny, chill little place on the web. However, last week in the pole community, some fucking disgraceful events took place. Events which have caused friends of mine to feel hurt, upset and generally isolated from the pole community thanks to the thoughtless and ignorant actions of others. This is not a subject I’m prepared to sit in silence upon, so if you were hoping for a jolly little post, you’re shit out of luck.
ICYMI a competitor at POSA Italy World Pole Art Championship performed a routine in blackface. I wish I didn’t have to write that sentence in twenty fucking eighteen but unfortunately it happened. A photograph of this performer was then shared on Instagram and various other fellow pole dancers and bloggers such as Toni ‘Misty’ Mansell and Peach Lee Ray were absolutely not here for that kind of bullshit and rightly wrote blogs, contacted the POSA and demanded answers and apologies for this disgrace. What then followed were, in my opinion a series of half-arsed, insincere, crappy “apologies” which were actually attempts to defend the performance.
Shit like “I believe the racism is just in your eyes”, “well the organisers said it was okay so it went ahead”, “no one was offended on the night” and “it’s no different to applying fake tan” are genuine statements I have seen floating around on various social media platforms about this incident. My response to all of the statements mentioned above and anyone defending the performance is simply WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!
First off, someone’s skin colour is not to be used as a fucking costume. End of. I’m not even going in to why that’s wrong. Secondly, the vile practice of blackface has been used for hundreds of years to exacerbate and enforce abhorrent, racist stereotypes within society. I am not a great social historian, so for further information on just how hurtful and damaging blackface is, please see this website. Putting on blackface make up and performing on stage is participating in the enforcement of these stereotypes and is harmful, vicious and spiteful.
What makes this whole situation even more fucked in my opinion is the way some arseholes have the damn nerve to defend what happened. A blog was even written in response to Toni’s defending the whole performance, which I will categorically not be linking to, as I am not giving any racist fucking views a platform here! The performance has rightly caused huge upset, offence and outrage amongst the right minded thinkers in the pole community, which is enough to signify that it is wrong. No defence is even required. You’re just trying to justify your hateful opinion, so stop it immediately.
What’s also infuriated me about this situation is the performers and POSA’s attempts to pass the buck on the whole thing. The performer used the excuse of checking with POSA in advance and they gave the green light for the piece to go ahead and the POSA consequently attempted to justify their actions by saying that nobody on the night was offended. Are you both not capable of thinking for yourselves? If the POSA told you it was okay to punch an old lady square in the face as part of your routine would you do it? Or if a routine in a competition or showcase that you were putting on involved the destruction of a holy text or book would you let it go ahead because no one appeared to be offended? We should not rely on the validation or approval of others for anything, nor should we use their opinions to justify our actions. Just because someone else doesn’t find something wrong or offensive doesn’t mean it isn’t. It is vital that we educate ourselves personally and not rely blindly on what others think, especially on an issue as important as racial equality (or any kind of equality for that matter) in the pole community.
I would like to finish this post, as Toni began hers, with an apology to all Black and POC pole dancers and performers. What was allowed to take place at POSA is categorically NOT the views shared by the majority of our pole community and I sure as hell am not going to let such divisive behaviour destroy it. I urge all pole dancers to unite against the POSA and work together to stamp out this racist bullshit once and for all.
I will leave you with the wise words of one of my pole sisters. Please save the images below. Read and re-read them to ensure you are a hundred percent crystal fucking clear as to why blackface never fucking okay to use. It is of paramount importance that we right all the wrongs that have been done here and make sure that it never happens again.