To the Editor:
In the wake of the Kate Smith controversy, the New York Yankees stopped playing her rendition of "God Bless America." The Philadelphia Flyers are also no longer playing the song, and even took her statue down due to racist songs that were recently brought back into the light.
The titles of the songs are self-explanatory in being named "That’s Why Darkies Were Born" and "Pickaninny Heaven." A pickaninny is a derogatory term used to describe a black child.
I cringed just by the title of the songs, but the cringe was unbearable when I heard the lyrics in which Smith sung “Someone had to pick the cotton / Someone had to plant the corn / Someone had to slave and be able to sing / That's why darkies were born."
I hope people can see why some people are offended. Although these songs were made in the 30’s, I find that irrelevant due to the nature we are in today in a world so diverse we must progress and get away from norms from back in an era where everybody didn't get a fair shake.
That's why I was surprised when Wildwood’s mayor took a strong stance on the matter. History can be an educator without being offensive.
It is impossible to "erase history" and it’s even harder to correct history, but we can progress by making all people feel loved and wanted, and by doing that we conserve America's core values.
This is not a crucifixion on Smith. In fact, I feel sorry for her because she is now being used as a tool for people to use against advancing our culture.
She sung a great version of “God Bless America,” but there are a lot of other renditions of the song that can be played and it wouldn't hurt anybody. But due to the controversy behind it, she is now being used as a symbol for a stagnant time when it was free to talk down on the oppressed and less fortunate.
We will never know what we can become if we stay stuck in such a time that is not genuine to today's value of rising all tides and making sure everyone is thought of.
We have come a long way from the 30’s, but that doesn't mean racism isn't around. In 2019, racism is way more.
It's not just the KKK and hurtful slander, it has subtle undertones, and when we support things like this we set off a message that is the opposite of free speech, hateful speech.
The last thing I want to do with this piece is throw accusations. What I would like to do is open others’ minds as well as opening their heart, so if no minds are changed, then at least they have an understanding.
The great Maya Angelou said, "We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike." If we can get that point through, then it's undeniable that God has blessed America.