independent

Monday 1 September 2014

Racism claim is 'bolt out of the black' for parade

JOE LEOGUE

Published 21/03/2013 | 05:26

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A man dressed as Olympic athlete Usain Bolt

ONE of the organisers of Ballingeary's St Patrick's Day Parade has described allegations that one of the event's sketches was racist as "ridiculous" after footage of a man dressed as Olympic athlete Usain Bolt went viral online.

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RTÉ were in Ballingeary on the day and broadcast footage from the village parade, including footage of a number of people dressed as celebrities.

The appearance of a man in black body paint depicting Usain Bolt, however, sparked heated debate on social media site twitter and a number of websites, including the boards.ie, Peoples Republic of Cork and Reddit forums and the broadsheet.ie site, which hosted a clip of the video.

'Did I see a blacked up man? What decade are we in folks?' one user on Reddit asked.

'A decade where racism still hasn't reached Cork it seems,' a reply read.

And there were rmany more along the same lines.

Others, however, argued that the representation of Usain Bolt was not racist as the parade did not set out to belittle the athlete.

'Racism is in the intention not the action,' a comment on broadsheet.ie read.

Sean O'Sullivan of the parade organising committee this week told The Corkman that the depiction of Usain Bolt was part of a sketch mimicking the Top Gear TV programme. The basis of the sketch, he said, was to see how many 'celebrities' could fit in the one car. The Usian Bolt character was one of 12 in the sketch, and there was absolutely nothing racist about his portrayal, Mr O'Sullivan said.

"Every parade up and down the country has had a Barack Obama for the last five years. The intent was not racist.

"The challenge had a man dressed as Angela Merkel, is that sexist? Usain Bolt is the fastest man on Earth, if he was white there would be no hassle about it.

"He got out of the car and ran up and down the route. If someone has an issue with using body paint to depict an African American man, then I would ask how do you do it?" he said.

"It is a baseless complaint. There were people dressed as the Pope, there were no complaints. There was absolutely nothing racist in that sketch and it is ridiculous to say so," he said.

To see the video, log on to facebook.com/CorkmanNews.

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