‘Blackface’ King controversy

Blacking up for Three Kings’ parades continues despite annual campaigns to do away with perceived racist tradition

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Roquetas de Mar was one of the few councils in Almería province that used a black man to portray King Balthazar

By Emma Randle

Three Kings’ parades across Spain have once again sparked a debate over the practice of ‘blacking up’ rather than using black residents to fulfil the role of King Balthasar, historically depicted as having dark skin.

In Almería province some councils, including Roquetas de Mar and Mojacar, made the effort to find black residents to participate in the parade, but others such as Almería city, Adra, Huércal Overa and Los Gallardos had white people wearing black face paint and gloves.

In recent years African and other racial minority group associations have regularly petitioned for councils to offer the role of Balthazar to black residents to help social integration of minority groups, as well as to dispel racist connotations.

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