THE DARK TRADITION OF BLACKFACE TAMBOURINE JUGGLING. Two men each simultaneously spin 16 tambourines. They (and presumably also their audience) believe that they belong to a distinct “race”—they are white—so an integral part of the act is that they are dressed up to look like men they perceive to be of another “race”.

The brothers Larry and Billy Freeze had great success with their act. For a period around 1900 they were engaged by Barney and Bailey Circus, and toured Europe with the show. They played 16 weeks at the Olympia in Paris. Blackface entertainment later went somehow out of fashion. Tambourine juggling, too.

 
Poster: Primrose & West’s Big Minstrels. Four blackface performers juggle tambourines.

© 1897 STROBRIDGE LITHOGRAPHY COMPANY / LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PRINTS AND PHOTOGRAPHS DIVISION

 

THIS ISSUE:

RACE and TAMBOURINE JUGGLING!!!

 

“The common definition of ‘race’ is based upon an arbitrary and superficial selection of external characters,” wrote Ashley Montagu in 1942: THE GENETICAL THEORY OF RACE, AND ANTHROPOLOGICAL METHOD

In 1962 Montagu wrote: “The chief objection to the term ‘race’ with reference to man is that it takes for granted as solved problems which are far from being so and tends to close the mind to problems to which it should always remain open.” Read on in THE CONCEPT OF RACE

 
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