Who is with these debutantes?
August 31, 2006 7:45 PM   Subscribe

Can you explain this picture of debutantes from the recent 60 minutes interview with Ray Nagin? What's with the hoods and masks?
posted by Steve3 to Society & Culture (8 answers total)
Google searches imply that the men are part of a krewe, masked for the Mardi Gras parades.
posted by occhiblu at 7:52 PM on August 31, 2006

(My source for that.)
posted by occhiblu at 7:55 PM on August 31, 2006

This photo indeed appears to be from 'The Twelfth Night Revelers' krewe in New Orleans during Mardi Gras:
"...all of the adult males at the ball wore masks, and what appear to chef hats. In general the masks are strips of white cloth with eyeholes cut in them. So if you're flipping quickly through the paper, you a page of photos that on first glance appear to show very young women in fancy white dresses, posing with Klansmen. It's a little creepy."

posted by ericb at 8:46 PM on August 31, 2006

I'm glad someone asked about this. I thought it was odd CBS showed the photo without any explanation. My New Orleans friend said it wasn't a KKK thing, but couldn't explain what else it could be.
posted by Brian James at 9:15 PM on August 31, 2006

Response by poster: Happy to oblige. I knew what I saw just *couldn't* be what I thought it was, but I couldn't explain what was going on there either. I knew MeFi could.
posted by Steve3 at 7:06 AM on September 1, 2006

Whoever they are, they should come up with a new costume/outfit/uniform. That's provocative and even offensive.
posted by thinkpiece at 8:54 AM on September 1, 2006

FWIW, that black-and-white photo makes the costume look much more Klansman-like than they actually seem in real life. Usually the outfits are made of brightly-colored satin (with glitter and spangles worthy of Liberace), but this picture makes them look like white cotton.

Also, masking at Carnival is a pretty ancient tradition, dating back well before the Klan was even a twinkle in Nathan Bedford Forrest's eye. So although I can't defend some krewes' racial sensibilities, I don't find masking offensive.

This is speaking as a native Louisianian, however, and I can definitely see how people who aren't familiar with the tradition would find that photo kind of shocking.
posted by slenderloris at 10:22 AM on September 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

thinkpiece: "Whoever they are, they should come up with a new costume/outfit/uniform. That's provocative and even offensive."

Given that the Klan ripped this off from the Krewes, and not the other way around, it would appear, to the unbiased observer, that anyone who judges their outfits to be "provocative and even offensive" is simply uneducated and uninformed, and probably shouldn't look at photos of New Orleans, the South, and foreign countries in general, as they might be laden with 'painful' or 'incomprehensible' images.

posted by koeselitz at 12:23 PM on September 1, 2006

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