Claremont Insider: Mailbag: Pilgrim Place

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mailbag: Pilgrim Place

We received an email last week from a reader who also subscribes to the Claremont Courier. The reader expressed some shock at the Courier's coverage of the Pilgrim Place Festival.

The Festival included the annual Pilgrim Story play, and the Courier's coverage (not posted on the Courier's website) showed photos of some of the amateur actors in dress rehearsal. Our reader thought that the image of a young teenage boy dressed up as a Native American with a headband and feather was feeding a lot of dated stereotypes:

DATE: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 3:52 PM
SUBJECT: Pilgrim Place Festival
TO: Claremont Buzz

Dear Claremont Insider,

I am a Courier subscriber and was mortified, disappointed, and disgusted to see the front page of today's Courier and its coverage of the Pilgrim Place Festival. I wonder if Claremont would allow a racist masquerade starring African American slaves (in blackface, similar to the "Indians" of Pilgrim Place's "redface") and friendly masters; Jews in concentration camp uniforms and smiling Nazi guards; or another other racial minority?

Do you know of anyone out there who has expressed opposition to this festival in the past?

This all reminded us of the ongoing debate at Pomona College over the college's Alma Mater. We haven't heard of any discussion or debate about the Pilgrim Place event, but then Pilgrim Place, despite its progressive self-image, is really a pretty conservative institution, especially when it comes to traditions. So, no mention of untidy things like smallpox or Manifest Destiny in the Pilgrim Story. Realism hasn't quite made its way into Pilgrim Place's school of dramaturgy.

On the other hand, Pomona College alumni of a certain age might argue that tidiness has its place.