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Law firm partner apologises after wearing blackface to work fancy dress party

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Exclusive: Turned up to 2016 event as Mr T

Kevin Horn as Mr T at the 2016 work fancy dress party

A law firm partner has issued an apology after a photograph surfaced of him attending a firm fancy dress party in blackface.

The incident took place in 2016 when Kevin Horn, a family law specialist in the Fareham office of Hampshire outfit Warner Goodman, wore blackface while dressed as 80s TV icon Mr T.

The firm’s managing partner, Andy Munden, said his colleague had now apologised for his actions and that he “deeply regrets any offence he may have caused”. Horn also “accepts his behaviour was an error of judgement”.

“We want to make it clear that this incident does not in any way reflect the culture of Warner Goodman LLP where diversity and inclusion are cornerstones of our core values,” Munden told Legal Cheek. “That said we will now be redoubling our efforts to embed these values into the culture of our firm.”

Munden confirmed the firm will not be taking disciplinary action against Horn, but that it would prioritise building on its existing diversity and inclusion training.

This, he continued, will include an additional programme of diversity and inclusion education for “each and every one of our staff members”. The firm has also reported the incident to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

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49 Comments

WiseCounsel

Presumably at the time the other partners in attendance did not think it worthy of comment?

(49)(4)

Pongo

I wonder when we are going to see the first “It was OK in the 2010s” TV series.

The reality is that , at that time, comedians on mainstream TV we’re doing things like this.

Think Little Britain.

OMAD Djalili would say that race based comedy was “not racism- it’s playing with race”.

It might be wrong now, but it wasn’t seen as wrong then.

Maybe the 2010s were a blip in the moral progress, a throwback to the 70s, but it seems wrong to pillory him for it now.

(13)(6)

Anon

This event took place in 2016. Little Britain aired from 2003 to 2005, not that it would have made it okay for someone to to put on blackface and perform a caricature of black people. His behaviour and lack of judgement is made worse by the fact it was a work event and that he is a senior lawyer.

(14)(11)

Anonymous

He apologised because he was caught and called out, not because he actually felt bad for what he did

Shameful

(42)(35)

Anon

Would you rather he didn’t apologise then?

(10)(5)

Growapair

Yes.

(7)(4)

Anon

Apologising is easy and, as Anonymous points out, apologies are often only made when people are caught. They are rarely proactive.

More than a verbal apology is needed in this case and similar cases. Has he taken any action to show he has educated himself (e.g. by completing meaningful training), engaged with and made reparations to people who might have been hurt by what he did? Or has he just said “I’m sorry (because I got caught)”?

(4)(11)

Anon

This is not ‘blackface’, which is offensive and racist. This is someone dressing up as a character that happens to be black. Is that offensive and impermissible for anyone who is not black? Wouldn’t it be far more offensive, and to appropriate the character, to dress as a white Mr T? Surely, faithfully replicating the character is appropriate and respectful?

(87)(43)

LOL Wrong Audience

It is indeed offensive and inappropriate. Welcome to the 2020’s, it may seem tricky in here.

(32)(45)

Stop pls

Please take your logic elsewhere. This is a time for irrational opinions only.

(49)(8)

FFS

‘This is someone dressing up as a character that happens to be black. Is that offensive and impermissible for anyone who is not black?’

Yes – yes it is offensive. And you don’t have any ‘right’ to tell a Black person what they should or should not be offended by.

(38)(59)

Anon

Two points.

Firstly, this is not objectively offensive.

Secondly, the commenter did not purport to tell black people what they can and cannot be offended. Anyone of any skin colour is free to be irrationally offended by this if they so wish.

However, the point is this: why should those of us who value logic, reason and critical thinking care about your irrational offence taking?

(21)(5)

Anonymous

Because if anyone publicly criticised The Queen, Prince Andrew or Captain Tom, you would be furious and wouldn’t defend that person’s right to ‘logically’ and ‘reasonably’ criticise them.

It’s one rule for one group, and a completely different rule applied to minorities.

(7)(17)

anon

Comments like these always make me wonder how many of the white ‘NiceGuy’ associates I work with are secretly this inane and subconsciously prejudiced/anti-PC.

(42)(24)

Anonymous

It is a million times worse in barristers’ chambers, I promise you

(6)(2)

Growapair

One can be anti-PC without being prejudiced. Your mindset conflating the two speaks volumes of the assumptions of the woke.

(11)(6)

Anon

Lol the statement itself doesn’t imply the terms are interchangeable actually, but your inference and reaction speak volumes 🙂

(7)(1)

You are a joke

Your argument makes absolutely no sense. To even suggest that a white person dressing up as a black character without covering his skin in black or brown paint. Is worse or just as bad, than the racist and terrible past that comes with black face. Is just ridiculous.

You need to educate yourself in the extremes of blackface and racism of the past. Then you will understand why it is not acceptable to do this today.

My main point. Is that there is absolutely no need in making yourself black. If he had worn the outfit as a white man, I can guarantee that people would still know what his costume is. He is also not disgracing the character by being white, because everyone knows that Mr T is played by a black man.

There is no “honor” in playing into racist and derogatory past of racism. You have 0 right to decide what is and isn’t offence for people of colour. Therefore if people of colour do find it offensive, and there is 0 need to do it. Then no one should be doing blackface.

(13)(16)

Anon

How can you fail to see that a white man in a position of power dressing up as a caricature of black people, at a work event no less, is extremely offensive? One of the most common tools of racism is perpetuating stereotypes and harmful tropes so that, as a society, we only see people from racialised groups as one thing, which often conveniently subjugates them as objects of ridicule.

What Black man shall I pretend to be at a work event today? Oh, I know, Mr T because black men always wear tracksuits and massive gold chains. I wonder how that will make my colleagues feel, especially my Black junior colleagues who have no doubt experienced racism, possibly in the workplace.

What Asian woman shall I pretend to be at a work event today? Oh, I know, I’ll dress as a woman in a hijab or a Geisha from that movie I saw once.

(10)(17)

Beermonster

Warner Goodman or Wernham Hogg?

(21)(0)

LPC '07

Definition – Blackface: used to refer to the practice of wearing make-up to imitate the appearance of a black person. And why did the other partners including the managing partner let this happen??

(24)(15)

Long Memory Man

Because it was the 2010s and for some bizarre reason it was OK then (not having been OK bin the several decades before).

(2)(4)

Bro

Anon @11:14am.

You’re completely ignoring the racially insensitive context and (well-known, I might add) history of individuals painting themselves black to imitate black individuals (including characters) to make your point in a vaccum.

Anyone in the real world with basic social skills/emotional intelligence who isn’t tryig to make faux-philosophical arguments to justify something widely noted as racist will tell you that this is offensive and inappropriate.

(26)(27)

Anon

Ignoring the racially insensitive context of true ‘blackface’ that I specifically identified as racist and offensive? Blackface portrayed deliberately harmful caricatures of black people that were fuelled by offensive stereotypes. It denigrated and sowed continuing division. It’s a phenomenon that does not deserve to be watered down by application to the photo in this article, where the individual had plainly attempted a faithful recreation of a well-known, celebrated character.

If I may say so, this is too important and charged a topic to rely on ‘basic social skills/emotional intelligence’. It deserves to be freely discussed and rationally argued, not dismissed as ‘something widely noted as racist’. Argue, reason and debate. Engage your brain and don’t just submit without thought.

Are you seriously suggesting it would have been appropriate for this individual to have dressed as a white version of that iconic character? To blindly deny that it is a black character played by a talented black actor? Or are you suggesting that black characters can never be replicated by white people, with it following that white characters cannot be replicated by black people? So was it wrong for Anne Boleyn to be black in the recent miniseries? Or is it better for famous historical and celebrated characters to be faithfully recreated? I tend to think that it pays rather better homage to faithfully, accurately and respectfully recreate people. But if you think ‘basic social skills’ and ’emotional intelligence’ mean we can’t share each other’s history and culture, then I think society is all the poorer for it.

(42)(16)

Anonymous

Thank god ppl like you still exit 👏

(16)(18)

Shameful

Yes – it would have been better to be a white Mr T than to perform a blackface act. You have no right to tell black people what they can and can’t be offended by. Maybe if your ancestors were enslaved and debased for centuries you would have an issue with this.

(19)(30)

Harvey Specter

Or, he could just pick another (white) character to dress up as, rather than being so racially insensitive…

(18)(16)

Anon

I think it’s generally considered offensive to “black up” (whether that takes the form of minstrelry or not) and one would be far better off simply using one’s own skin, or selecting a different character.

I for one have no issue with a black woman playing Anne Boleyn, or any other portrayals of real-life figures being portrayed by actors of different ethnicities – most of the time the skin colour of the individual concerned is probably not contextually relevant. In circumstances where the character’s racial background is specifically stipulated or otherwise germane to the actual understanding of the performance, then cast an appropriate actor in the role.

(8)(8)

Noanon

No, it may be “generally considered offensive” by the woke and the left, but the vast majority of the ordinary population have no problem with it. I know that is hard for the urban woke bubble to grasp which is part of the problem as to why they they think can speak for everyone else. Instead people are modifying behaviours not because they consider something offensive but because of the risks of attack and persecution and general hassle associated with annoying the woke brigade.

(7)(5)

Bro

Anon @1.19pm

The crux of your argument is that if someone goes to extreme lengths (yes using products to paint yourself like a black person is extreme) then there is no issue.

Faithful representation =/= that the behaviour is acceptable.

E.g. there is a sikh character from India. Say a white guy British guy turns up to the party having painted himself in a deep brown, wearing a turban and mimicking an Indian accent. This may be a ‘faithful representation’, but let’s not pretend like everyone will see this as completely normal, acceptable behaviour just because he did his best to represent the character.

This is my point about basic social skills/emotional intelligence. Your argumentation is the kind of thing I’d expect from a uni student philosophising in vaccum divorced from reality, but in the real world painting yourself black is associated with blackface andracist historical connotations – whether someone goes out of their way to portray a ‘faithful representation’ is immaterial.

(6)(4)

LondonCounsel

How embarrassing.

(3)(4)

Alan

Bunch of snowflakes

(24)(17)

B.A. Baracus

I pity the fool!

(16)(3)

B.A. Baracus

I pity the fool

(12)(3)

Alan

Typical. Leftie woke police working around the clock looking for ways to kill the careers of those who they don’t approve of. This was years ago, and doesn’t cause offence. No one is safe these days from being cancelled it seems.

(16)(16)

James

You aren’t Alan. Fraud.

(3)(2)

Anonymous

My man is saying “nobody is safe” over blackface

(9)(3)

Davidoff

If you ever did the blackface, delete all evidence of the blackface.

(0)(0)

Alan

No. This was categorically not racist. I would not support any form of racism. Please tell me exactly what triggered you about someone honouring their heroes of colour this way? Should we ignore people of colour, isn’t that racist?

(2)(4)

Enoughofthistomwokery

I watched Trading Places the other night. Dan Ackroyd was in blackface. Should he be apologising and the film be pulled? It is still a great film.

(13)(7)

Alan

Don’t raise this in front of the whole brigade, he will be cancelled before you can say gender neutral tofu eater.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

Trading Places in September?? It’s a Christmas film!!! You are clearly someone who lives on the edge. A rebel without cause

(1)(1)

Trigger This

Personal I consider Trading Places like Die Hard. It has scenes set at Christmas rather than being a Christmas film. Though both were released at Christmas in the US which does tip them towards the Christmas movie pile.

I have to say this is a far more interesting issue than trying to reason with those that get offended by just about everything. Do you think the wokists would watch Trading Places to try to get it cancelled or just moan about it unseen and demand it is pulled or come with a trigger warning?

(4)(1)

Bro

Anon @1.19pm

The crux of your argument is that if someone goes to extreme lengths (yes using products to paint yourself like a black person is extreme) then there is no issue.

Faithful representation =/= that the behaviour is acceptable.

E.g. there is a sikh character from India. Say a white guy British guy turns up to the party having painted himself in a deep brown, wearing a turban and mimicking an Indian accent. This may be a ‘faithful representation’, but let’s not pretend like everyone will see this as completely normal, acceptable behaviour just because he did his best to represent the character.

This is my point about basic social skills/emotional intelligence. Your argumentation is the kind of thing I’d expect from a uni student philosophising in vaccum divorced from reality, but in the real world painting yourself black is associated with blackface andracist historical connotations – whether someone goes out of their way to portray a ‘faithful representation’ is immaterial.

(2)(2)

Illogical logic

Would the response be the same if he had dressed up as a woman? God forbid he goes to fancy dress NOT AS HIMSELF!

(3)(1)

State Of This Place

If a Black person put on make up and turned up to the party pretending to be one of the White partners, no one would have smiled and seriously thought it ‘pays rather better homage to faithfully, accurately and respectfully recreate people.’

You would have spent the night wondering what the heck was wrong with them and they felt they NEEDED to do that in public.

As a lot of us are here, wondering how many of the people we work and study with secretly care more about make up and wanting to be ‘liked’ at a party than to bother to see things from the perspective of another community.

It’s frightening.

(4)(8)

Melt Off Snowflakes

Some people are OK with having fun, enjoying life and not being limited by the prospect of annoying snowflakes.

Personally, I am OK with having fun, enjoying life and happily doing something that annoys snowflakes.

(7)(4)

Look, I HATE The Queen!!!!

Those who use the word ‘snowflake’ the most tend to be the biggest ones.

(3)(3)

Lose Your Livelihood? Be My Guest

You know what?

I’m perfectly happy for the defenders of this guy to wear blackface as Mr T for their next office Xmas party, for them to argue to HR that they are merely having ‘fun’ being ‘logical’ and ‘reasonable’, and then for their firm and the SRA to punish them accordingly.

(3)(5)

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