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White woman's use of Mardi Gras krewe blackface stirs debate

By KEVIN McGILL Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- There's blackface -- the racist, minstrel-show practice of whites imitating blacks. And there's blackface -- black Mardi Gras revelers donning outlandish garb to poke fun at that racism.

And then there's blackface -- modern-day whites wearing paint and accompanying New Orleans' black Zulu krewe.

But as New Orleanian Ann Tuennerman found out last month, that third blackface can still offend people in a big way.

It wasn't just the picture on her Facebook page showing her with painted face and Zulu Krewe regalia -- an image captured by her husband, Paul Tuennerman, as he made a video recording at the Zulu den.

There was also the accompanying comment: "As he said, 'Throw a little blackface on and you lose all your Media Skills.' He did his best as the interviewer."

Criticism soon erupted on Facebook.

"It is 2017," said one critical post. "No reason for adults or anyone to still be putting on blackface, even if tradition."

The Tuennermans, both white, are founders of Tales of the Cocktail, an annual event that draws thousands in the alcoholic beverage industry to New Orleans every year.

Both Tuennermans immediately accepted responsibility, acknowledged the racial insensitivity, and the pain it caused and tried to make amends.

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