The government has announced that, as of next year, ‘Black Face Friday’, a local event held every November in Luton, will go national, as a replacement for ‘Black Friday’. “This year’s ‘Black Friday’ was hugely disappointing, with no riots, or even punch ups, reported as frenzied shoppers fought each other for bargains,” explained a spokesperson for the Department of Trade and Industry. “This annual bout of consumer violence has traditionally been seen as the official start of the Christmas shopping season, providing all manner of lurid headlines, but this year it has simply failed to deliver, so we’ve decided that a new element is needed to reinvigorate it: racism.” The original event, which has now successfully been running in Luton for several years, involves shoppers being required to ‘black up’ if they want to claim the best bargains. “It helps to level the playing field,” local businessman Phil Catchpole told The Sleaze. “In the past it was always the fastest, the biggest or the just plain nastiest, who could always get to the front of the queue, punching out rivals if necessary. But none of that counts any more unless they are blacked up – it’s made a huge difference, with discount goods now being far more evenly distributed amongst the bargain hinting public.” As an added bonus, the event also traditionally sparks a series of race riots.

“You would have thought that everyone would have got used to the convention by now,” says Catchpole. “But no, every year someone gets bloody offended and it all kicks off.” Indeed, during the most recent ‘Black Face Friday’ a group of bargain seekers mistakenly entered an Afro-Caribbean grocery store, prompting a furious reaction from both staff and customers, who chased them out of the shop and into the street, where a furious battle ensued. “There was all sorts of stuff getting thrown around – one of the blacked up shoppers was felled by a pineapple while others were pelted with mangos,” recalls Catchpole. “They retaliated by hurling a fifty inch TV they’d bought earlier through the shop window, It all got pretty nasty, pretty fast.” The disturbance was ended by the arrival of the police, who arrested the shop staff. “Of course, that nearly started another riot, with a mob of liberal do-gooders surrounding the police station and protesting until they were released,” says the businessman. “Quite ridiculous, it was an honest mistake on the part of the police. I mean, they all look alike, don’t they? People in black face and real black people, I mean. If the police had realised that they weren’t in black face they would never had turned those high pressure hoses on them to wash off what they thought was the offending boot polish.”

It is the reaction of the police in this instance which has raised fears that taking ‘Black Face Friday’ national could be used by the authorities to provide a pretext for racial profiling and discrimination. “It would mean that for one day a year, at least, targeting black people with ‘stop and search’ for instance could be legitimised,” opines Dick Perch, Senior Lecturer in Race Relations at the Peckham School of Wool Technology. “I have no doubt that they would use it as an excuse to stop and search real black youths on the grounds that they suspect them of being blacked up white shop lifters, for instance, then arrest them for obstruction when they refuse to remove their ‘disguises’.” Perch argues that ‘Black Face Friday’ represents another example of the ‘normalisation’ of racism and bigotry which seems prevalent in modern society. “If you try to object to this sort of thing, you are characterised as a ‘kill joy’, overreacting to something that is just ‘a bit of fun’,” he says. “I’ve no doubt that the likes of the Daily Express would defend it as being no worse than the bloody Black and White Minstrel Show – all ‘harmless’ fun.”

Indeed, Catchpole claims that the black face has nothing to do with racism, but rather harks back to traditional English celebrations which involved blacked up characters representing the spirit of mischief. Defending the event, Catchpole argues that, far from being racist, it actually empowers ethnic minorities, giving them an advantage when it comes to bargain hunting. “It’s a form of positive discrimination,” he muses. “Something, incidentally, which has drawn the ire of various local groups such as the Bedfordshire branch of the KKK.” He also points out that the local newspaper, The Luton Leader last year published a foaming at the mouth editorial decrying the event as ‘positive discrimination’ for non whites and dismissing it as another example of how the ‘white working classes’ are being oppressed. “Besides, even if it does appeal to racists, so what?” he asks. “Surely even bigots are allowed to bag some bargains at this time of year, aren’t they?”

The Department of Trade and Industry Spokesperson has emphasised that the adoption of ‘Black Face Friday’ isn’t just a reaction to the apparent decline in ‘Black Friday’ takings. “The fact is that, for some time now, there has been unease at the adoption of an American tradition like ‘Black Friday’ in the UK.” they claimed. “Particularly as, without a preceding Thanksgiving Day, it actually made no sense whatsoever.” Consequently, the government has been searching for a replacement which better represents British traditions and taps into our culture. “What could be better than something that taps into our great British traditions of intolerance and bigotry, as recently revived by Brexit?” the spokesperson asks. “We feel that as the UK leaves the UK and slams he door on immigration, becoming ever more isolated and parochial, the general public will wholeheartedly embrace this new shopping event which combines racism with rampant commercialism. As for potential race riots, well, not only will they reinforce the idea that the UK is a ‘hostile environment’, thereby deterring potential illegal immigrants, they will also provide the sort of sensational headlines that have been missing from recent ‘Black Fridays’ . If greed and avarice alone can’t start riots in shopping centres any more, then we really have no choice but to add racism into the mix!”