Due to some inquiries surrounding a particular performance in the Comic Division from yesterday’s Mummers parade, we thought it would be a great idea to publish a letter from Darrel Young, a member of Finnegan’s New Year’s Brigade as it appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
January 2, 2019
To the Editor:
My name is Darrel Young. I am a black American male mummer. Yes. 1 am a mummer;
and a proud member of the Finnegan’s New Year’s Brigade for the last two years. In the
2019 Mummers Parade I happily accepted a prominent role in my club’s theme. I
portrayed Jay-Z, another black American, in a skit that poked fun at Mayor Kenney.
Most of us remember the situation involving the Mayor’s cancellation 0f the Made in
America concert. After Jay-Z intervened, Mayor Kenney reversed his decision. There
was a political cartoon that showed Jay-Z walking a dog on a leash with Mayor Kenney
as the dog. It was political satire. It painted the Mayor as the Jay-Z’s lap-dog.
Now, City Council President Darrell Clarke issued a press release that says that our skit
“brought shame and embarrassment to the City of Philadelphia” and that our skit
involved a “blackface Jay—Z walking a long nosed Mayor Kenney like a dog.” Mr.
Clarke claimed that our good-natured skit “was offensive, racist and not even a little bit
amusing.” None of that is true. Here? we portrayed a prominent black celebrity treating
the mayor as his lap dog.
First: There was no blackface involved. I am black.
Second: Mayor Kenney was portrayed by a white man with a Pinnochio-nose.
Third: It absolutely was not racist.
Fourth: It was a satirical criticism of our Mayor Kenney (who happens to be white)
caving to pressure from Jay-Z (who happens to be black).
Fifth: The City, including Mayor Kenney’s ofﬁce was aware of, and did not
object to the skit.
The fact that the Mayor’s ofﬁce never objected says great things about Mayor Kenney.
He gets it. A primary purpose of mummers is to poke fun at our elected leaders, and,
given the backlash, this obviously worked. I’d love to see more people of color get
involved in mummers. l have a lot of fun and it’s a great Philadelphia tradition.
It is bad enough that our nation is plagued with a president who constantly lies in order
to fan the ﬂames of racism for his own political gain. Please don’t let that happen here