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CHIditarod condemns racist participants who wore blackface

The timing was almost too perfect.

Saturday saw temperatures in Chicago climbing to heights not seen in months as Chicagoans took to the streets for CHIditarod, a bar crawl/race benefiting the Greater Chicago Food Depository. DNAinfo Chicago reports that 139 teams ultimately raised $30,000 for charity while racing around the neighborhood, dodging each other and mounds of thawing dog poop.

Unfortunately, the dog poop wasn’t the only turd that surfaced Saturday.

OPINION

Despite it being the year of our Lord 2015, at least one CHIditarod participant seemed to think it was OK to wear blackface. Event organizers apparently told him to remove the makeup, but people who believe blackface to be OK do not strike me as the type willing to listen to reason.

The man was part of the #TooSoon team, a group that ostensibly dressed in an intentionally offensive manner. The man in question was dressed as Bill Cosby — why limit yourself to just blackface when you can make rape jokes in the process — and was joined by one man dressed as a Jackie Robinson West player and another dressed as Bruce Jenner. Jenner was involved in a car crash last month that left one person dead.

“We deeply regret that our inability to respond quickly to this unexpected behavior and come to a consensus about handling this team’s refusal to accommodate requests that the make-up be removed resulted in our inaction,” CHIditarod explained in a statement Monday. “Allowing this team’s participation marred the race day experience for our community.”

CHIditarod say they are working to clarify their policies.

Let me be real clear on this:

Stop. Wearing. Blackface. You. Idiots.

It is literally never OK.

Blackface, like the racist institutions it helped protect, is a blight on this country and humanity in general. Minstrel shows were a terrible cultural artifact that served to proliferate stereotypes designed to dehumanize black people. Do not participate in this slavery legacy.

You are an objectively awful person if you wear blackface.

It is worth mentioning that this incident came on the same day President Obama delivered a powerful speech to mark the Selma civil rights march.

“We know the march is not yet over,” Obama said at the site of a watershed moment in the fight for racial equality in this nation. “We know the race is not yet won.”

Clearly.

Read CHIditarod’s full statement below:

At Saturday’s race, a team with members in blackface was allowed to participate despite their refusal to comply with requests by board members and organizers that they remove the make-up. We deeply regret that our inability to respond quickly to this unexpected behavior and come to a consensus about handling this team’s refusal to accommodate requests that the make-up be removed resulted in our inaction, and that allowing this team’s participation marred the race day experience for our community.

CHIditarod’s core ethos encourages all participants to care for each other, make new friends, and take actions to improve our communities. This includes respecting each other’s humanity and taking accountability for our choices, an accountability that extends to CHIditarod’s Core Organizers. Our event participation guidelines and procedure to handle this situation fell short of what CHIditarod deserves, and we sincerely apologize for the harm this caused.

CHIditarod takes a firm stance that celebrating creative expression is never an excuse for cultural insensitivity or the perpetuation of systemic racial injustice. Such actions undermine CHIditarod’s mission to create positive, vibrant, and creative community engagement. The team in question has since been disqualified from CHIditarod X. Further, we are formulating a participation policy and event orientation program that will more clearly educate participants about what CHIditarod does and does not consider appropriate for any future events. We will also improve our standard operating framework for volunteers, staff, and organizers to address the communications gaps and procedural bottlenecks that contributed to this situation.

We thank the CHIditarod community, partners, and supporters for holding the event and its organizers to our stated principles of positive community engagement. CHIditarod owes its success to your hard work and dedication over the past decade, and we are committed to do better by you all moving forward. Please feel free