BRUSSELS (AP) — A Belgian street festival featuring a character called “Savage” played by a white person in blackface makeup has gone ahead amid objections from anti-racism activists.
The character moved through the streets of the town of Ath, southwest of Brussels, on Sunday, chained and wielding a wooden stick, as part of a parade of floats and giant effigies with biblical and historical connotations.
Anti-racism group Brussels Panthers has written to the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO, urging it to remove the festival from its intangible cultural heritage list if the character is not removed.
Laurent Dubuisson, managing director of the town’s tourism office, says, “We understand what they’re saying, that the blackface character is racist and instills fear of black people. This is not our view.”