"Dear white people, how many times do you need to be reminded that black face is never appropriate," said Facebook user Patricia Slack.
Just months after the Africa Museum in Belgium launched a program to address racism and pro-colonialism a group of white elite held an “African-themed” party with the dress code of tiger stripes, grass skirts, pith helmets and blackface.
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“Explain to me how an event like this can still exist in 2019,” said an enraged Emma Lee Amponsah, a member of the Cafe Congo art appreciation organization, told Bruzz.
“Ethnic, exotic or African is not a costume that you can put on and take off,” she said.
Party organizers, The Dasant, which worked on behalf of an entity outside of the museum, staunchly defended their debauchery, saying their attire was not meant to offend and attendees were asked to dress colorfully and use African prints.
“Even if one person painted his face black, it was not meant to be offensive,” The Dsant event planner, Kjell Materman, told The Telegraph. “Many people of African origin were enthusiastic about the concept and were present.”
Images are circulating of a party held at the grounds of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium (close to the site where Leopold set up his ‘human zoo’)— Samira Sawlani (@samirasawlani) August 7, 2019
Everything from blackface to ‘colonial chic’ -activists are outraged.
-museum has distanced themselves from the event pic.twitter.com/08uR0YICRS
Primrose Ntumba, a museum spokeswoman, said, “I think it is very unfortunate that The Dansant does not see that an ‘African fancy dress party’ can cause angry reactions, and all the more so at this location.”
In a Facebook statement, the museum explained: “When the event was announced on Facebook, we noticed that the dress code suggested by Thé Dansant would likely encourage highly clichéd and stereotypical representations of people of African origin. The museum immediately contacted The Dansant to point out the potential consequences of this approach, and to ask the organizers to change the dress code.
“This measure turned out to be insufficient as some of the participants still chose to wear stereotypical outfits. A number of hurtful and humiliating photos taken during the event are now circulating online,” the museum said earlier this week.
One social media user, Patricia Slack, wrote: "Dear white people, how many times do you need to be reminded that black face is never appropriate, even at an African themed party," alongside a picture of a white man with a darkened face sitting along the museum's manicured lawns.