Critics of Social Issues1
This chapter discusses two elements of black women’s masquerade, dressing up and social commentary, in Trinidad Carnival and the efficacy of their performance. The Baby Doll masquerade character of the early decades of the twentieth century provides a portrait of the intersection of dress, commentary, and play. The beautiful and radiant Martiniquian-style dress enabled Black women to be visible as they took center stage in a performance of public shaming of men allegedly for non-support of their children. At times comic, the performance was also double-edged. Black women appeared to be both virtuous (as mothers) and deviant (whores who could not confirm a father’s paternity). In the end, the Baby Doll character was an inventive, carnivalesque attempt to right a wrong, but to no avail.
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