A 26 year old woman from Frauenfeld vented her anger on Facebook for Bechtelis Night. She was out with friends on Monday evening. What bothered them about the event were the chosen costumes of some visitors. In their opinion, some of them were racist. She found it particularly bad that white people painted their faces black. One speaks of so-called blackfacing. Stereotypes from other ethnic groups are used for their own amusement.
This is Bechtelis night:
The custom goes back to the Middle Ages. Shortly after the city of Frauenfeld was founded in the mid-13th century, the nobles and distinguished citizens met regularly for social entertainment in their own drinking room. Later the craftsmen also joined them. The tradition continued with a meal from 1811 and is still alive today. The meal begins for a chosen group at 6 p.m. in the town hall and runs according to fixed rules. Then everyone celebrates together on the streets or in the bars. Most restaurants in Frauenfeld remain open at night.
Consider each case individually
Dominic Pugatsch, Managing Director of the GRA Foundation against Racism and Anti-Semitism, says: “A costume can be racist during a carnival or an event such as Bechtelis Night.” For him, it is important that one looks at each case individually. Generalizations are difficult.
For him, a lot is related to stereotypes. “It’s about degrading other ethnicities and cultures and exaggerating stereotypes,” said Pugatsch. What is clear to him: “If a costume is degrading, then it is also racist.” But you also have to consider that certain objects are associated with countries and have nothing to do with racism, the expert says. “For example, we connect Sombreros with Mexico and Sennenhüte with Switzerland. If someone is wearing a sombrero at a party, there is basically nothing to complain about. »
Painting the face black on a carnival, however, unnecessarily reproduces racist fantasies, says Pugatsch. «It is important to be aware of where this tradition comes from. Namely from a time of colonialism in which racist stereotypes were developed. »
Zero tolerance for racism
In exactly one month there are many costumes in Frauenfeld again. The carnival begins on February 20. So far, racism has not been a big issue at Carnival, says Hans Brunner, spokesman for the Murganese women field. Racism is not tolerated. “In the event of an incident, we would immediately seek a conversation with the person concerned. We cannot accept if a costume is aimed at groups of people in minorities. »
It sounds similar to Bruno Bischof, the president of the St. Gallen Carnival Society. On the subject of racism, he says: “Clearly there is zero tolerance. Everything that is hurtful or provocative goes too far. »But one should not exaggerate, continues Bishop. Wearing a costume from another country shouldn’t hurt anyone.