Morris dancers who black up to use green paint instead after racism row

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Morris dancers are to ditch their traditional black face paint over fears it upsets people.

The English folk dancers will trade their traditional colour for green amid blackface rows.

It is thought that Morris dancers originally blackened their faces with charcoal so that they could beg for money without being identified.

But black face paint was also historically used in theatres to ­dehumanise black characters.

Now a group in Ledbury, Herefordshire, has made the historic decision to ditch black in a bid to be more inclusive.

Silurian Border Morrismen held a vote and a majority chose to replace black paint.

Foreman Ian Craigan said: "We’re often asked why we wear blackface but in all my time here we have never been challenged by anyone on the grounds of it being racist.

"But we are aware of other sides [groups] who have experienced antagonism.

"We want to be a side that can turn up and dance and everyone feels comfortable watching and welcome new members from every spectrum."

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The Silurian side was inspired to take the decision following the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

They chose the colour green as it is a natural colour.

Their dances are original repertoires from historical records and first-hand accounts of dancers from the 1920s.

Morris dancing is an English folk tradition set to music that dates back to the mid-1400s.

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