How to Deal With the Mummers: 4 Steps Inspired by Your Racist Aunt on Facebook
If you believe the Mummers, things will be different next year.
In a press release issued Sunday, parade organizers condemned this year’s antics — including brown face, signs referring to Caitlyn Jenner as a “tranny,” an attack on a gay man and This Unholy Specimen — and outlined an impressive, seemingly sincere plan to make next year a more inclusive event.
Newly minted Mayor Jim Kenney, for one, seems hopeful. “There’s been lots of strides that the Mummers Parade has made over the years, but there is always one dumb thing that happens that really does affect people and offend people,” he said Tuesday. “We have to try to start over, and we’re working on that with the human relations commission and our LGBT affairs leader Nellie Fitzpatrick.” And now there’s discussion of sensitivity training, pre-screening of acts, sanctions and more.
I like Kenney, and I hope he’s right. But at the same time, this is only his fifth day on the job. It’s easy to have hope less than a week into even the most impossible of gigs, to truly believe that a mix of hard work and know-how can bring about change and uncover truth. (I’ve never been mayor, but I have bartended at TGI Friday’s, so I feel pretty qualified to pass on this advice: When your blender shorts out during the middle of the Ultimate Mudslide happy hour that is Philadelphia, Mr. Kenney, just try to remember all of the reasons you don’t want to go to jail. I find writing them on a napkin helps.)
Personally, I’m not holding my breath. While I believe that Mummers leadership genuinely understands the concerns and wants to improve next year’s parade, I spent New Year’s Day on Second Street with Mr. “Mummers Lives Matter.” The view from the cheap seats, well, it doesn’t look good.
And that sucks. But at the same time, it’s not as daunting of a problem as it might seem. Because although this city has built January 1st up to be both a mythical hallmark event and a shameful black-eye, in truth, it’s far less complicated: The Mummers Parade is, quite simply, your Most Racist Aunt on Facebook. From the polyester suits to the clueless Caitlyn Jenner memes, she’s nothing more than a basic biddy with a shaky grasp of the First Amendment — and as such, she can be dealt with.
As they say, you can’t choose your family and you can’t choose your Mummers (at least as long as SugarHouse is footing the bill). So here, inspired by your Most Racist Aunt, is how to deal with them next year.
Remember: These jokers are on the complete wrong side of history
It’s infuriating to watch racism, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia parade through our streets under the guise of “tradition.” And it’s mind-boggling to hear that Caitlyn Jenner skit defended as comedy after Mummers allegedly attacked a gay man in Center City and one yelled “fuck the gays” into a camera. (So tell us again … how do you really feel, guys?) But here’s the thing: These guys are simple hicks, and their place in the world gets smaller and smaller each and every New Year. See also: Your Most Racist Aunt on Facebook who shares anti-Muslim memes during Mike & Molly commercial breaks.
Don’t try to explain #BlackLivesMatter
It’s 2016. 2016! At this point, if someone doesn’t understand why a #MummersLivesMatter sign is offensive, they never will and it’s not worth your time. I’m beginning to think it’s like cilantro — you either have the gene that appreciates the nuance, or you don’t. (For the record: Cilantro is King of the Herbs, and defending a sign that reads #MummersLivesMatter in a world where 12-year-old black children die in the streets and heavily armed white terrorists take over government buildings without incident makes you an asshole.)
Try to see the good …
Nothing is black and white. Just as your Most Racist Aunt on Facebook dutifully shares Amber Alerts and is good for a casserole link or two, there’s a bright side to the Mummers Parade. Far from backwards bigots, most of them are talented musicians, ambitious entertainers, solid neighbors, loving parents and good kids. All of them know how to throw a party. There’s a reason this city loves them, and understanding that is understanding a part of Philadelphia.
… But don’t let them pull this again
Hopefully, the Mummers clean up their act, get rid of the bad apples and do a better job representing Philadelphia in 2017. The city deserves it, as does the Mummers’ legacy, and it looks as though we’re going to give them another chance whether we want to or not. But should we be forced to spend another year at the table with their usual crap, remember: Excommunicating family members is a long and time-honored holiday tradition. There’s no time like the New Year to kick bad habits, and, well, the Mummers might just have to be one of them.
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