Spain has Not Entered 2023

         Spain, a very well known European country, sadly has not entered 2023 with everyone else. In their Spanish culture, there is a tradition of celebrating the Three Wise Men or also known as Three Kings. Nothing is wrong with the tradition with multiple events held on January 6th, beckoning the new year, to honor the arrival of the wise men for the birth of Christ. This is also like Christmas for them as they trade gifts in the evening! Where does Blackface fit into all of this? One of the wise men, referred to as Balthazar, is shown as a Middle Eastern or Black man.

     Economically, socially, and politically this puts Spain in a tight spot. In places like Alcoy, Valencia and Igualada, Catalonia, they insist on wearing Blackface to depict the tradition correctly. However, like many places, Spain is a beautiful country people would like to go vacation in. Now, if people educate themselves on the insensitive behaviors that the citizens engage in, it will deter tourists, especially African-American tourists! While this may not tank Spain’s bank account, it will eventually hurt their local restaurants/shops and it sure does leave them with less money than they could be receiving. Socially, this increases friction between races, anti-racist groups, and continues to hurt the political climate. Some television channels are refusing to broadcast from Spanish cities that engage in Blackface. In western society, Blackface is shunned and seen as racist. With this new year coming in, people would think Spain is aware of this. Well, they are, but it doesn’t stop them from carrying on the practice.

      There is an anti-racist group called Afrofeminas who are pushing for the practices of Blackface to be abolished in Spain. The history of Blackface was to perpetuate stereotypes of African-Americans back in the 1900s where white men color their faces Black and put on bright red lipstick. These minstrels would enact how they believe Black Americans acted for entertainment to the white parties. While the people of Spain argue that their particular tradition is only trying to depict the character, they ignore the painful history of Blackface and refuse to make it better. Why don’t they just allow a Black man to dress up as Balthazar… or is that a little too morally right?

      The controversial topic continues to rage on since the parade will happen this Friday, January 6th. According to CNN who were informed by “the organizers of the event in Igualada,” 1,000 volunteers will participate in the event. I know Blackface may not be important to others, but as someone who cannot paint on their skin color and take it off whenever they feel like it, I personally know the effects of it. Because my skin color could get me killed while other people wear it as a costume, keep their privilege and opportunities when the costume is off, and go on about their life. So, Spain, please understand the importance of Blackface, check your privilege, and join 2023 with the rest of us.