Use black people for Spanish Magi processions

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An African cultural association says Caucasians with ‘ridiculous’ painted faces should not dress up as King Balthasar in Christmas processions.

Madrid – An African cultural association Thursday urged town halls in Spain to use black people to portray King Balthasar in their Christmas processions instead of Caucasians with "ridiculous" painted faces.

The traditional processions and gift-giving on 6 January to mark the arrival of The Three Kings, or Wise Men, are the highlight of the Christmas season in Spain.

Each of the kings, or Magi, who according to the Bible came to worship the Baby Jesus guided by the Star of Bethlehem, represent a different continent, with Balthasar from Africa, Caspar from Europe and Melchior from Asia.

But Spain's Pan-African Centre, which is dedicated to promoting African culture, complained that Balthasar is often portrayed by Caucasians with their faces painted black.

Spanish municipalities "insist on making fools of themselves and shamelessly insulting black children by portraying Balthasar as an absurd scarecrow.

"Making matters worse are often council members and public figures who lend themselves to such a ridiculous and unnecessary parody," it said in a statement.

"We want to warn the authorities not to abuse the trust of the children or continue to insult the black race, presenting sordidly painted characters, while we commend those who have the good sense to choose real black Balthasars."

The association invited visitors to its website to sign a petition calling for black people to be employed in the Balthasar role.

AFP / Expatica

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