Black puppeteer sues after being accused of 'blackface' during Black History Month

 February 2, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

A black puppeteer is suing after he was accused of violating a social agenda standard and using a "blackface" puppet.

"Blackface," wherever it was originally found, was common during the days of comedians and minstrel shows in America.

It's when a character assumes the physical identity of a black, no matter the circumstances.

Under today's "diversity, equity, and inclusion" agendas that are roiling American standards, it is a violation of the worst sort.

But the case at hand has some unusual characteristics.

report from Politichicks explains that for years Franck Sylvestre has performed.

But this year he was canceled for Black History Month and he's suing the Red Coalition which berated him and made him a target.

"Sylvestre was born in France to parents from the French West Indies, he moved to Montreal and began putting on his own productions which combined music, slam poetry, dance and, this is where he got into trouble, puppetry," the report said.

"While Sylvestre’s previous black history month shows had gone without a hitch, he began presenting 'L'incroyable secret de Barbe Noire' or 'The Incredible Secret of Blackbeard,' meant for children, in which he acts out the part of a boy from his island home who on hearing a story from his grandfather discovers a treasure chest with gold from Cortez, of the famed pirate himself (while wearing a pink mask and wielding a wooden pirate sword) and a puppet," it continued.

Politichicks explained, "Sylvestre’s family had originated from Martinique, once the haunt of Blackbeard, and his shows had incorporated stories and legends from the West Indies. The puppet, named Max, is supposed to be a caricature of himself who steps into the story. Making lookalike and caricature puppets is common enough in puppetry, but the rules are different for Sylvestre and his face."

The puppet is black.

So the activists in Red Coalition condemned his sponsors for tolerating "a clearly racist children's play featuring a grotesque blackface puppet."

The group charged his show was "totally not acceptable."

Sylvestre said the puppet actually is a representation of himself, and his artistic license allows him to utilize a variety of comedic tools.

But a government agency in the Montreal area gave in to the pressure group and canceled his show.

So he's going to court, seeking damages for defamation, from the chief of the Red Coalition.

The report noted, "Sylvestre’s lawsuit mentions that Babineau had smeared him by derisively calling him a 'bon noir' or 'good black' and suggesting that he enables white supremacy."

The report added, "Sylvestre sees this as an issue of artistic freedom, but it’s also a question of who decides what’s racist. We used to associate racism with unthinking prejudice, but the response of Canada’s professional anti-racism class was filled with unthinking prejudice. On seeing Sylvestre’s caricature puppet of himself they immediately reacted with some very racist prejudices."

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