A Derbyshire band accused of racism after one of its members performed wearing black shoe polish has promised to come back “more in your face than ever before”.
As reported exclusively online by the Derbyshire Times yesterday, Natasha March – who is mixed-race – said she endured sleepless nights after the “racist” act by the Village Idiots band at a charity gig in memory of her late brother in Dronfield Woodhouse.
How dare they use black skin as a cheap joke in the name of charityNatasha March
The band said it despises racism and is hurt at the accusation – and will continue to perform its acts.
Last night the group issued a statement saying: “We are overwhelmed with all the support after the article in the Derbyshire Times.
“This has been a troublesome time with thoughts of us not performing again due to these horrendous and hurtful accusations.
“But we shall return bigger, better and more in your face than ever before.
“The real people of Dronfield know what we do and why we do it so next year get yourselves ready as we are going to blow you away with another routine to entertain you and make us look daft yet again.
“People of Dronfield we applaud you for your support, your values and your friendship.
“It just proves how good you all are and how high your morals are to see us for what we do and why we do it.”
Commenting on Facebook, Joe Gould said: “100 per cent support for you all. Carry on guys.”
Tracy Charlesworth said: “That article was a disgrace. The amount of money you have raised is fantastic so don’t stop doing what you are doing. How that was racist, I don’t know.”
Debbie Wilson said: “A hurtful thing for the person to do.”
Ian Cider said: “This is just plain ignorant of the band. You just don’t do that. But I wouldn’t brand them as racist and nor would I regard this as a newsworthy story.”
Natasha – who said she left Dronfield Woodhouse after suffering years of “systematic racist abuse” while growing up there – was adopted by Paul Dungworth’s family as a baby.
Paul suffered cystic fibrosis all his life and died aged 31 in 2008 after developing bowel, liver and lung cancer.
The Paul Dungworth Charity Music Festival has become an annual and popular event, raising many thousands of pounds for good causes in his memory.
This year it raised a grand total of £5,221.94.
Natasha, 36, who now lives in Manchester, said one of the band members was dressed as a black, blind jazz singer at the gig.
She said: “My sister and I walked off the premises until their racist show was over and we discussed how inappropriate and disgusting it all was.
“When I went back home to Manchester I was very upset.
“How dare they use black skin – never mind blindness – as a cheap joke in the name of charity.
“I did not sleep for two nights.
“I began to mourn for my brother again and recall my tormented childhood years.
“Paul would not want the band to behave like this.
“Do they realise how offensive it is?”
The Village Idiots said: “We decided to put on our dance to have some fun and give everyone a laugh and make it a little different.
“We despise racism in any shape or form and found it quite hurtful we were accused of this.
“Our act was organised and required one person to be dressed in this manner – this wasn’t a problem in our minds.
“Unfortunately this was not the view of the person who made the complaint and unfortunately they did not see the funny side.
“Unfortunately you can’t please everybody.”
Recalling her past, Natasha said: “Growing up in Dronfield in the 80s and 90s was tough if you were brown skinned.
“I suffered systematic racist abuse within the community and at school.
“My Afro hair was laughed at and chewing gum was thrown in to it.
“I was told to ‘f*** off back to my own country’.
“When I walked past classrooms boys would make monkey actions and sounds.
“They would chant ‘you’re ugly and your nose is large’ on a daily basis.
“I was beaten up on several occasions outside of school and threatened regularly.”
Natasha was left angry by the abuse and subsequently failed subjects at school.
However, she has gone on to carve a successful career in the human rights sector.
She said: “I travel internationally and have met many cultures around the world.
“Against the odds I was determined to never have a small mind like some of my peers.”