The late singer and performer Kate Smith, who is famously known for her rendition of the song "God Bless America" is now under scrutiny after some discovered she once used her voice to sing a couple of songs that were deemed racist. The songs came out in the 1930s, one of which was "That's Why Darkies Were Born". Now you have to understand while that song would be deemed inappropriate in today's world with lyrics like:
"Someone had to pick the cotton
Someone had to pick the corn
Someone had to slave and be able to sing
That's why darkies were born"
Unfortunately that was the norm back in the 1930s. Racist did exist or there was honestly no social awareness of it. Now I'm not condoning the song but merely explaining why someone like Kate Smith would sing that song at that time in history. Those who knew her said she was not a racist, in fact she was a very sweet woman. Smith's own niece, Suzy Andron, told the media: "Aunt Katherine was probably one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. She was certainly anything but a prejudice person. She loved everybody.”
The Philadelphia Flyers hockey team for years adopted Kate Smith's song & she even performed the song live numerous times before hockey games. The Flyers have a statue of Kate outside their arena in Philly. The New York Yankees also played her rendition of "God Bless America" during their 7th inning stretch for the last 10 years. Now, after this latest development into her past and deeming her 1930s material as racist, some feel as though any association with her is not appropriate. Mind you her song is "God Bless America" which is one of thee most patriotic songs of all time. The Yankees & Flyers have decided to do away with their tradition and the playing of her song along with covering up her statue outside the Flyer's arena because they do not want to offend anyone. The Philadelphia Flyers put out an official statement on the subject:
A spokesperson from the New York Yankees has also out on a statement on behalf of the team and their stance on Kate Smith's "God Bless America": “The Yankees have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information. The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity.”
The big question in all of this is why now & is this decision warranted? There needs to be some sort of cultural understanding that there is a big difference between racism that happened in the past & racism today. No type of racism is warranted or appropriate, however you can't just ban everything that might have been associated or connected to racist at one point in history or else honestly we'd have to ban the very teams that are banning this song and Kate Smith's statue. The Yankees, the flyers, why didn't they have black players sooner? Should we ban them because they used to only employ white players? Should we excommunicate everyone who is currently related to a former slave owner because of association? What about the Democratic party? The KKK was formed by Democrats & yet we still have that party parading around crying "racist" against others out of what most likely is reformers guilt of the party. I mean how much is enough? Kate Smith was a product of her time and what we now have to punish her & her tarnish the rest of her work for one song or two songs that were not even written by her, just sung by her at one point in history? We need to ask ourselves if we have gone too far. Are we taking things too far and living in fear of being marked as a "racist" for the sins of the past not present? Yes. I think so...The key is past not present. We can't change the past or make up for it no matter how many statues you take down. The only racism you can nip in the bud is present displays of racism by currently living people who are carrying out racism in front of you not from 50 years ago but right now! Times change and we either are a nation of forgiveness or we're not and right now based on society's actions, it's telling me we as a society are not a society of forgiveness.