DN letters: Vaudevillains try to make Mummers Parade inclusive

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The Vaudevillains New Years Brigade performs in front of the judge's stand at the Mummers Parade in 2012.

STU BYKOFSKY ended his recent opinion piece by writing, "The Mummers Parade, first and foremost, is a show by Philadelphians and for Philadelphians." This spirit is why the Vaudevillains march in the parade each year, and this spirit is why the Vaudevillains work to make the parade welcoming to all Philadelphians.

Bykofsky argues first that there is nothing about the parade that needs to change and subsequently that we'd never be able to change the parade anyway.

Mummers themselves have been an instrumental part of the effort to eliminate skits that "punch down" and move away from performances that treat a marginalized culture's cultural symbols as costumes. As Bykofsky noted, Mummers voluntarily attended trainings. And the leadership of the Mummers Parade issued a public statement in January 2016 committing itself to dialogue. For all Bykofsky claims to know about Mummers, he is clearly missing that there is a Mummer-led effort that wishes to lift up and celebrate the best of Mummery and discourage performances that make many Philadelphians feel unwelcome at their own parade.

Gauging from his opinion piece, Bykofsky is supportive of some of the recent efforts to improve the parade (e.g., "The sensitivity training offered the Mummers a new way of looking at the world, which is welcome"). I would encourage him to rethink his naysaying and offer suggestions for how we can achieve our common goal (I believe) of an inclusive parade that maintains the Mummers' stick-it-to-the-man spirit.

Brooke Di Leone, Vaudevillain and Mummer since 2013

Philadelphia

An open letter to Christine Flowers

In your Thanksgiving column, you wrote of your impatience - it read like anger and annoyance - at your fellow citizens who are afraid of what a President Trump means for them. You described their hysteria, a word that derives from the Greek for womb and was once a word applied exclusively and derisively to women, who were thought to be overly emotional. You report that they've told you you don't get it because you're a white Christian, with variations on that theme.

Christine, plenty of white Christians understand the fear that Trump's election has engendered; their understanding gets me through the day. You don't get it because you're mean. You don't have to be mean - I know you work as an immigration attorney, and I don't believe it's your essence. It's a choice.

People are terrified of Donald Trump because he created a climate of hate so toxic that there have been hundreds of reported hate crimes since the election. I have LGBTQ friends who have applied for passports because they fear what will happen to their families, Muslim friends who don't know what to tell their children, Jewish friends who, like me, grew up surrounded by people with numbers on their arms who had no family because no one took Hitler's threats seriously. My daughter is black, but she has not yet realized that she, too, is at risk and that the hatred Trump encouraged is already hurting black people, as Trump's followers act out their rage and as he invites white supremacists into his inner circle. Instead, she comes home worrying about her Muslim classmates and her friends with gay parents.

It's hard to reassure her when Trump's nominees reflect exactly the positions he took on the campaign trail, but I try: I edit extensively. We write postcards. I tell her it will be OK. I don't mention the Confederate flag I saw flying just yards from the road as we traveled east on the turnpike, or explain what it means. Yet.

I know from your writings that you are a devout Catholic and that it informs your work. I have trouble believing that you approve of Trump and his language about women - he taught my 10-year-old a new word - but I don't read you often enough to know, because I find the contempt in your columns unsettling.

Your status as a white Christian should be no barrier to compassion. And what is the purpose of our shared liberal education if not to teach us how to see all sides of an issue, to understand a problem from all angles? What is the essence of your religion if not compassion, that same ability to see, to understand another's point of view?

Ellen Berkowitz

Philadelphia

Recount strategy

I don't know what Jill Stein's objective is by having recounts in three states. She's raised over $5 million to do this.

The election is over; Hillary Clinton conceded. You're beating a dead horse. Why don't we have a do-over and we'll spend millions more. You have homeless on the street, shelters overcrowded. Don't you think that money would be well spent to help out those who need it?

Martio Marchetti

Philadelphia

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