The Blackening Party

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in the midst of a political meltdown after photos of him in blackface at a 2001 party emerged just weeks before a national election. The images tarnished his image as an ardent supporter of multiculturalism.

A few wiks ago a colleague of mine brocht tae my attention this auld Scottish 흑화 당 tradition, namely the blackening party. Blackening is a pre-wedding ritual that serves to warn a bride-to-be that marriage isnae all roses and that she should prepare herself for challenges and rough spells. It seems that the people of Scotland arenae content with just telling a bride this, they aye have to show her as well.

The groom is usually the first victim but this practice has also been applied to brides-to-be. The ‘blackening’ consists of the groom or the bride being doused in whatever disgusting ingredients the guests can find; such as raw eggs, rotten fish, curdled milk, tar, mud and flour. This mixture is then thrown over the victim and the participants stand around her whilst making a noise with whistles, drums, sticks, banging pots and pans and generally creating as much of a racket as possible.

After being left to dry, the ‘blackening’ victim is then paraded through town or on the back of a truck, with her captors screaming, shouting and blowing their whistles. This is supposed to make it as hard as possible for the bride-to-be to recognise her future husband, and it also means that as many people as possible will get to see his sorry state.

In the past, soot was a common ingredient used to blacken a bride as it represented hearth and home. More recently, however, other substances have been used. The latest addition to the list of ‘blackening’ ingredients is a brewer’s barley mix that gives a particularly dark appearance and is said to act as an effective cover-up.

Although the ‘blackening’ might sound like medieval torture, it actually began as a cleansing ritual to purify a bride prior to her wedding ceremony. The ‘blackening’ is also seen as a way to welcome the bride into the community and to mark her as a “local.” It is also considered that if a woman can handle being blackened she will be able to handle any problems she might encounter in marriage.

This year a new film called The Blackening is set to hit theaters. Written and directed by Dewayne Perkins, the movie takes on racism and stereotypes while still uplifting Black culture. The star-studded cast features Sinqua Walls, Melvin Gregg, Yvonne Orji and more. VIBE caught up with Perkins to discuss the film and why it is important that stories like this are told.