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Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?

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Jeri 20 May 21 - 10:42 AM
GUEST 20 May 21 - 10:34 AM
Big Al Whittle 19 May 21 - 04:10 PM
The Sandman 19 May 21 - 01:30 PM
meself 19 May 21 - 12:33 PM
Jeri 19 May 21 - 12:25 PM
Jeri 19 May 21 - 12:03 PM
Felipa 19 May 21 - 12:03 PM
The Sandman 19 May 21 - 10:19 AM
GUEST,# 19 May 21 - 09:48 AM
GUEST,matt milton 19 May 21 - 09:33 AM
Jeri 19 May 21 - 08:42 AM
GUEST,matt milton 19 May 21 - 08:38 AM
Jeri 19 May 21 - 08:17 AM
Joe Offer 18 May 21 - 08:41 PM
Gibb Sahib 18 May 21 - 08:00 PM
The Sandman 18 May 21 - 05:18 PM
Rex 18 May 21 - 01:33 PM
cnd 18 May 21 - 10:12 AM
The Sandman 18 May 21 - 05:11 AM
Hrothgar 18 May 21 - 05:05 AM
The Sandman 17 May 21 - 01:14 PM
Jeri 16 May 21 - 06:22 PM
The Sandman 16 May 21 - 05:01 PM
Jeri 16 May 21 - 04:48 PM
Megan L 16 May 21 - 04:05 PM
GUEST,Guestibus 16 May 21 - 02:46 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 01 Aug 20 - 09:59 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 01 Aug 20 - 09:55 AM
GUEST 01 Aug 20 - 07:59 AM
The Sandman 01 Aug 20 - 07:53 AM
Severn 30 Jul 20 - 10:05 AM
GUEST,Gerry 30 Jul 20 - 06:12 AM
GUEST,anon 30 Jul 20 - 01:50 AM
GUEST,Gerry 29 Jul 20 - 07:51 PM
Severn 29 Jul 20 - 07:40 PM
Rex 29 Jul 20 - 02:50 PM
Acorn4 29 Jul 20 - 10:09 AM
Joe Offer 29 Jul 20 - 09:58 AM
Mrrzy 29 Jul 20 - 08:02 AM
GUEST,Gerry 29 Jul 20 - 06:01 AM
Waddon Pete 29 Jul 20 - 03:10 AM
hsempl 29 Jul 20 - 03:06 AM
Joe Offer 29 Jul 20 - 02:43 AM
hsempl 29 Jul 20 - 01:03 AM
Joe Offer 28 Jul 20 - 11:59 PM
hsempl 28 Jul 20 - 09:33 PM
hsempl 28 Jul 20 - 09:32 PM
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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Jeri
Date: 20 May 21 - 10:42 AM

Agree with that, GUEST.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST
Date: 20 May 21 - 10:34 AM

"Matt, I don't know that a black person would need to identify the girl as black. Why not just "girl"? I understand your point, though. I just don't know that I'd agree with it. In all cases."

Well whether he needed to or not, that's what the (black) musician Leadbelly sang when he recorded it.

It would be interesting to hear Rhiannon Giddens or Dom Flemons perspective on that song and those particular lines - it is a patriarchal/macho/threatening address ('black girl, black girl, don't lie to me, tell me where did you sleep last night?). But unquestionably much more so when coming from the mouth of a white person.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 May 21 - 04:10 PM

I always love the dance scene in Fort Apache.

First, theres the regimental march to St Patrick's Day.
Then Henry Fonda dances to Golden Slippers with the Sergeant's wife.
Fonda dances so daintily. Quite beautiful...


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 21 - 01:30 PM

It was a comment about the fact you're repeating yourself. quote
at least what i have to say is worth saying


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: meself
Date: 19 May 21 - 12:33 PM

"Are racist songs OK?" That's even worse - the other title suggests nuance or rationalization/justification, both for (performance of) the songs and the discussion.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Jeri
Date: 19 May 21 - 12:25 PM

Matt, I don't know that a black person would need to identify the girl as black. Why not just "girl"? I understand your point, though. I just don't know that I'd agree with it. In all cases.

#'s right too. I know some folks who sing what originally was racist songs, and they changed words. They did it so deftly that I sang along with the choruses for years before I looked up the originals.

But Matt's comment about the title "Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?" Could be shortened to "Are racist songs OK?" Not unless you're doing an historical program of racist songs. "Hey, people, folks used to sing this sort of thing in public." We adapt songs. Other's we may just make note of and forget about.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Jeri
Date: 19 May 21 - 12:03 PM

Matt, most sensible thing on here.

Dick. it wasn't a "snide swipe". It was a comment about the fact you're repeating yourself. Not that there's anything wrong with that.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Felipa
Date: 19 May 21 - 12:03 PM

I think too that the year of the Jubilo (Kingdom Coming) may be a deliberate send-up of the minstrel show songs and the Stephen Foster songs which also use dialect and show the "darkies" as contented. I think it's a good song, and Joe has made some practical suggestions.

is there anything we can do to encourage a bigger mix in the singaround participation? Although we do come from diverse backgrounds, every participant I can think of whose photo or video is shown on screen would most likely be described as "white" by their appearance.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 21 - 10:19 AM

guest948 am makes a good point about are you prepared to sing it etc, but it is not as simple as that, it depends how you introduce the song, if you say this is a song that was a song written by an abolitionist who was from a family of abolitionists. The family home was part of the underground railroad. Kingdom Coming was written in sympathy for the enslaved and gives them the upper hand in the song and modernise some of tthe lyrics it can be acceptable,
if you dont give that kind of introduction and use the darkie words it could cause offence., in other words it needs a carefully thought introduction and some lyric changing

Jeri come back in 10 years when you have something useful to say other than making snide swipes at another member


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,#
Date: 19 May 21 - 09:48 AM

The litmus test to me is this: If you are willing to sing the song in front of an audience composed of the people mentioned in the song, go for it. If not, then you've answered the question, "Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?"


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 19 May 21 - 09:33 AM

Well the thread title is more than unfortunate. If were black and I read the title 'Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?' I'd probably assume folk music wasn't for me. The answer to that very baldly stated question is screamingly obviously 'no'.

"Some folks here seem to think it's a song that merely mentions race (Black Girl), and some folks (I'm one) think it's what's said, or implied, about people"

The point about a song like 'Black Girl' is not that the song is inherently racist, it's that it is inappropriate for a white person to sing its lines. A black person can sing the line 'black girl, black girl, don't lie to me', but it's just crass for a white person to, because it immediately has a different power dynamic, way too many other implications.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Jeri
Date: 19 May 21 - 08:42 AM

I also think the fundamental problem with this thread (aside from the fact someone will refresh it again, so some of us, perhaps Dick, with have an opportunity to say the same things all over) is that I don't believe we agree on what a "racist" song is. Some folks here seem to think it's a song that merely mentions race (Black Girl), and some folks (I'm one) think it's what's said, or implied, about people. Then you get into whether it's really implied or not, and whether mentioning race is implying something, and on and on.
Yep, it'll be back in another 10 years.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 19 May 21 - 08:38 AM

"I hate for us to get too squeamish about language and songs that are now considered to be racist. I think these need to be sung pretty much as written in the context of historical presentations"

I don't see why they need to be sung at all, even in the context of historical presentations.

You can just read the lyrics, or show them on a screen. I don't think there's any need to sing them - what does that gain anyone? We all have the power to imagine what hearing them sung might have been like, hearing them sung is gratuitous.

I would leave it to those directly affected by such lyrics (ie black people) to decide whether singing them is worthwhile in terms of adding to our understanding of their impact. No white person should be doing so IMO.

As your further anecdote suggests, people may even find the reading (rather than singing) of lyrics to be offensive too. You would have to make a case by case decision based on the context.

Personally I think someone who voluntarily elected to attend a discussion about racist songs is being unreasonable in complaining about them being quoted - it is impossible to address them otherwise but I still wouldn't dismiss that complaint without giving it some consideration. How would that person have felt about reading the words on a screen, for instance?


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Jeri
Date: 19 May 21 - 08:17 AM

One of the most absurd things I've heard is a 78 RPM record of a choir from a famous black college singing "Joshua fit de Battle ob Jerico." I HATE dialect. I was disappointed to hear what sounds like educated black men singing like white people thought black people sing. When I was a small child, I used to ask my parents why they did that. I never liked the answer. I don't think my parents did, either. I don't know that it's racist, although I can see that it is (let's make black people sound stupid and incomprehensible), but I hate dialect.

I guess that's one reason for the "folk process".


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 May 21 - 08:41 PM

Wise words, Gibb.

I hate for us to get too squeamish about language and songs that are now considered to be racist. I think these need to be sung pretty much as written in the context of historical presentations, because people need to know the reality of the culture of our forebears.

A while back, I was discussing prejudice against Chinese railroad workers on the Transcontinental Railroad, and I read the lyrics of a couple "John Chinaman" songs to illustrate. One member of the group complained and said that he was highly offended by my reading the lyrics. I'm sorry, but I don't know how to illustrate the reality of history without quoting the actual words that were said.

When singing for entertainment, I don't think there's a place for racism in songs - but it's a different matter if the songs are meant to educate. I refuse to euphemize. Either I use the terms as stated, or I don't use them at all. And I won't use "negro dialect" because that doesn't work at all.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 18 May 21 - 08:00 PM

My two cents as just one person who reads a lot of 19th century writing and song texts:

"negro" was (past tense) an acceptable and neutral term for a Black person. It was used in polite speech. It sounds too formal in a "folk" song.

"nigger" was deemed uncouth by high-status speakers. However, it was part of vernacular speech. Sometimes it gave offense, sometimes it didn't. Depends on who was saying it and their intent. Black people used it as often as White people. In song, often it is a marker that the song was sung by a Black person (who spoke the vernacular) or else was a song meant to represent what a Black person might say (i.e. to put the song in an authentic "Black voice").

"darkey," even if not intending to give offense, marks a racist. Black people did not use it. White people who thought they were too classy to say "nigger" used it.

There are probably many exceptions, of course.

While "nigger" is obviously the most dangerous word today, I think there is some room for considering it *in historical context*, especially since its erasure can actually end up erasing Black voices and "vernacular" (and not intentional racist) White voices from history.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 21 - 05:18 PM

i asked a question please be positive and tell us why you think it is good idea to sing it
so the composer had good intentions, but it would imo be necessary to modernise the lyrics i woild replace darkies


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Rex
Date: 18 May 21 - 01:33 PM

Henry Clay Work was from a family of abolitionists. The family home was part of the underground railroad. Kingdom Coming was written in sympathy for the enslaved and gives them the upper hand in the song.
Yes, it seems that the author had nothing but good intentions in mind. This used to be a regular part of my presentations on the songs of the Civil War. One can clean up the dialect but "darkey" can't be ignored. The last time I sang it was in a lecture of 19th century songs for a graduate class of students of history. The song was presented to show that while the writer had good intentions, he still employed offensive language common in his day. The professor agreed with the song's inclusion and yet even in this context, some were offended. The melody is quite appealing and I play it on the fiddle. But I will sing it no longer.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: cnd
Date: 18 May 21 - 10:12 AM

While Kingdom Coming/Year of Jubilo are pretty clearly racist, I think the lyrics at the time were well-intentioned despite their racist characterization of African Americans and its stereotypes.

As long as you don't sing the lyrics in an offensive fashion and modernize some of the lyrics, it should be fine.

If you have the space, it couldn't hurt to do another slightly more obscure song Work wrote entitled "Babylon is Fallen"


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 21 - 05:11 AM

Kingdom Coming (Henry Clay Work)

Say, darkies, hab you seen de massa, wid de muffstash on his face,
    Go long de road some time dis mornin', like he gwine to leab de place?
    He seen a smoke way up de ribber, whar de Linkum gunboats lay;
    He took his hat, and lef' berry sudden, and I spec' he's run away!

    CHORUS:
    De massa run, ha, ha! De darkey stay, ho, ho!
    It mus' be now de kingdom coming, an' de year ob Jubilo!

    He six foot one way, two foot tudder, and he weigh tree hundred pound,
    His coat so big, he couldn't pay the tailor, an' it won't go halfway round.
    He drill so much dey call him Cap'n, an' he got so drefful tanned,
    I spec' he try an' fool dem Yankees for to tink he's contraband.

    CHORUS

    De darkeys feel so lonesome libbing in de loghouse on de lawn,
    Dey move dar tings into massa's parlor for to keep it while he's gone.
    Dar's wine an' cider in de kitchen, an' de darkeys dey'll have some;
    I s'pose dey'll all be cornfiscated when de Linkum sojers come.

    CHORUS

    De obserseer he make us trouble, an' he dribe us round a spell;
    We lock him up in de smokehouse cellar, wid de key trown in de well.
    De whip is lost, de han'cuff broken, but de massa'll hab his pay;
    He's ole enough, big enough, ought to known better dan to went an' run away.


can you ex-lain why it is needed in your repertoire


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Hrothgar
Date: 18 May 21 - 05:05 AM

We're working on a presentation of songs of the American Civil War. Is it legal to sing "Year ob Jubilo'?

The song fits the context and the times, but is easy to describe as racist. However, I think it would be a shame to leave it out, so we're doing it.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 May 21 - 01:14 PM

thankyou


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Jeri
Date: 16 May 21 - 06:22 PM

Consistent with what you said in 2011.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 May 21 - 05:01 PM

i think analysing content is important for me as a singer, it determines whether i would choose to sing a song.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Jeri
Date: 16 May 21 - 04:48 PM

It takes a bit of effort to cruise around and find a post nearly a year old to clutch one's pearls over. And Old Black Joe isn't racist. (Not unless you object to a fictional character referring to himself as "Black". But wouldn't "Old" classify the fictional character as ageist, too? It's so hard to keep it straight.)


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Megan L
Date: 16 May 21 - 04:05 PM

Everything offends someone so what do we do. I often find that those who are so offended on others behalf are so busy clutching their pearls and gasping in outraged indignation that they do little or nothing to actually help people.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,Guestibus
Date: 16 May 21 - 02:46 PM

[rant] Would anyone sing 'Little Sir Hugh' at, for the sake of argument, a Holocaust memorial event using folksingers? Of course not. It was a deliberately offensive, racist slander in the 14th century and always will be.

Historically it's significant, yes, and aesthetically it's superior to many other broadsides of the kind. But you wouldn't sing an overtly racist more modern song unless you had a specific purpose in mind - which might be scholarship, dramatic recreation, or actually to condone racism, let alone to make money.

I saw Eric Clapton at a private do a few years back, and was a bit taken aback to hear him do 'Old Black Joe'; which isn't overtly racist, but certainly carries Jim Crow overtones that the ignorant might think legitimise that attitude, especially when performed by someone from Surrey. He's obviously learned nothing; how many among millions of other songs might he have chosen? [/rant]


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 01 Aug 20 - 09:59 AM

I haven't studied the discussion leading up to the focus on people being offended/upset in detail, but it seems to me possible to trivialise the important issues by framing them in terms of people's subjective sensitivities/being 'upset'. Not saying anybody did this or tried to do it. But it can happen I think. It then leads on to the 'snowflake' insult line of attack. Just a thought, not trying to argue that people's feelings aren't important.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 01 Aug 20 - 09:55 AM

You cannot call Shakespeare an establishment lackey or allude to the extent to which he was influenced by his paymasters (eg the King) in my experience without Jim Carroll coming along flashing his I'm working class but I can appreciate Shakespeare. He told me I hadn't being paying attention to the plays when I said something similar!


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Aug 20 - 07:59 AM

i just make sure the play Shylock is not in my house

A spin off from the The Merchant of Venice, I presume. Must be a recent disccovery.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Aug 20 - 07:53 AM

a song i would not sing is Hugh of Lincoln, it is anti semitic
as is that play Shylock, written by the establishment lackey Shakespeare,
however that is easy for me i just make sure the play Shylock is not in my house, IT MUGHT BE WELL WRITTEN BUT ITIS ANTI SEMITIC


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Severn
Date: 30 Jul 20 - 10:05 AM

I have yet to hear anything that I might think of as offensive in an antisemitic way sung at the Mudcat sing and we have a good number of Jewish singers present who I am sure would let us know if such a song slipped in without a short bit of reference as to why the singer is including it and it's context, as there is a bit of the historian in most of us. Take Gerry's suggestion and join us
and be enlightened and entertained.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 30 Jul 20 - 06:12 AM

Instead of making hypotheticals, anon, why not come along to see for yourself what kinds of people are attracted?


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,anon
Date: 30 Jul 20 - 01:50 AM

i dont want to start anything, only to say as someone from the jewish faith it would make me supremely uncomfortable to have people uncritically singing antisemetic songs. If that's the kind of space you wish to cultivate, and those the kinds of people you wish to attract, fine, but don't blame those of us who are the subject of some of the more frankly offensive songs for staying away from those who wish to sing them uncritically


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 07:51 PM

"I'm not inclined to apologize for anything I do in good faith.... Maybe I have a wrong understanding of apologizing when somebody is offended, but I see no need for apology when I had no intention to offend or when I don't think my action was offensive."

Joe, I think all of us – you, me, Mrrzy, Heather – have the same goal: continuing the singaround without it being interrupted by a discussion that should take place elsewhere.

If there are two ways to achieve that goal, and one of them leaves one or more people upset, and the other way doesn't, then I think the way that doesn't upset anyone is the optimal choice.

Acknowledging that someone has been offended, expressing regret that someone has been offended, seems to me to be the way to achieve the goal without leaving anyone upset. Acknowledging that someone has been offended in no way accepts blame for causing offense, and doesn't even agree that an offensive act occurred; it just lets the other person know that you understand how they feel. People need that.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Severn
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 07:40 PM

One thing I found that I had to learn in a relationship/marriage situation was that even if you were right in the argument or dispute, if another party was hurt by the nature of what was said, be it tone of the manner you express yourself in trying to make your points, at some point, the right of wrong of things can become secondary to the fact that someone on one of even both sides of the dispute are hurt or offended, the were indeed hurt, and hurt IS hurt whether you feel you were right or proved your point. If one walks away knowing one was right in the argument leaving the other party hurting from something other the settlement (if you even reached one), you have to understand the hurt and you don't have to concede the original point to know that something beyond all that happened, some offense real or imagined has occurred, and if you ever want to be able to solve possibly more important problems, these sensitive points have to be identified to be used as tools (and hopefully not weapons) in the future. You have to be able to apologize for these offenses no matter who won the original point, as it is in the end, a completely different apology. Then you can move on and build on things in an open manner without dropping into set patterns each time something does go wrong or is disputed as a matter of habit. When communication goes, each party can hurt the other in ways they will no longer realize.

You were a bit rough on Heather, considering some of the other posts that get harsh, shrill of mean that will come up in threads like this one. I greatly appreciate and respect your skills as a moderator and count you as good friend, but I am surprised that these posts rather than some others could set things boiling over the top.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Rex
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 02:50 PM

I was presenting some nineteenth century songs at a symposium. The audience was almost exclusively historians. I presented The Yellow Rose of Texas, gave some of the background, pointed out offensive words, particularly "darkie" and then performed the song. The words are from a hand written paper in the archives of the University of Texas at Austin which I pointed out. Contrary to popular belief it's origins are not about cowboys. I was later confronted by some who were offended by the song leaving me to wonder what is the purpose of a symposium?
   Point two, I was asked to give a presentation for a class of graduate students at the University of Denver. The subject was songs that were popular during the beginnings of settlements in the Colorado Territory. A sub heading was the popularity of minstrel songs, America's first pop music and its rough edges. I pointed out a good example, The Year of Jubilo or Kingdom Coming. It was written by an abolitionist and is pointing out the rise of the former slave and the fleeing of his captors. But that word, "darkie" runs all through the song. I had to make sure that all cell phones were down and the students would simply see the song as it is warts and all. The professor was sympathetic and felt it was right to include the song as an example of what seems to be good intentions for the time by its writer. Not all the students agreed. In this place of learning some could not get past that word. Even if this is a good example of again, good intentions, I do not believe I will ever sing it again in any situation.

Rex


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: Acorn4
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 10:09 AM

It's a very thorny problem and can extend to areas like songs about whaling and hunting.

Can you disapprove of both and still sing the songs, as a lot of them are cracking songs.

In essence when you sing a folk song you are, in a sense, acting. In a play you could be acting the part of a Shakespearian villain, which bears no relation to your own beliefs or behaviour.

If you are an atheist you might be offended by religious references. We have a person who attends our local sessions who tuts at the end of a song with any religious connotations.

I've tried telling him "you don't have to be a psychopath to sing a murder ballad" to no avail.

We'd need to ban the whole of Kipling if you read the use of the "n" word in the "Just So" stories.

Not coming to any conclusions here but just a few thoughts and just saying that the implications are far reaching.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 09:58 AM

There's no doubt that offensive lyrics are a valid issue for discussion. It's a very hot topic in our San Francisco Folk Music Club. Last I heard, "I've Been Working on the Railroad" is now considered offensive.

Here in California, everybody is offended by everything, so I'm not inclined to apologize for anything I do in good faith. My temptation is to say, "Go piss up a rope" - but that, too, interrupts the flow of a singaround. Maybe I have a wrong understanding of apologizing when somebody is offended, but I see no need for apology when I had no intention to offend or when I don't think my action was offensive.

I think that after a person sings, it's appropriate to either make a positive comment, or to say nothing. It might be appropriate to speak briefly about the background of the song, and I admit to sometimes being too wordy in my attempt to discuss a song. On Zoom sessions, it might be appropriate to say something after the song if the singer's sound needs adjustment - but I think that only the host should interrupt in the middle of a song, and only when something can be done quickly to remedy the problem.

But if there's negative stuff, I think it generally should be discussed privately, as in the private chat. If further discussion is necessary, it can be done afterwards.

And yes, Gerry, Heather's first post was reasonable. Then she became insulting.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: Mrrzy
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 08:02 AM

I put something in the chat about kanaka rather than talking about it on the zoom.

I think Joe does a bang-up job running said zoom. Joe, you do great work on all of our behalves. Please don't stop.

Everybody else, please don't make him *want* to stop.

I was glad someone besides me brought up kanaka.

I was glad Joe redirected the singaround away from the about-to-erupt argument. He's right, not that people should sing unchallenged, but that *raising* the challenge was enough *for that medium* at that time.

My feelings. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 06:01 AM

Boy, that blew up in a hurry!

Joe, I think if you go back to Heather's first post, to the end of it, you'll find it makes good sense. If someone says she has been offended, apologize for whatever caused the offense, and move on. An apology is not an admission of guilt; it is not an agreement that what was done was in any objective sense offensive; it's just an acknowledgement that when someone says she was offended, she was, in fact, offended. Whatever past history you may have with the person, right now the person is offended; acknowledge that, and move on. If the person wants to continue the complaint after an apology, then it's perfectly justifiable to insist that the place for that is at Mudcat and not during the singaround.

It seems to me that, purely as a practical matter, this is the way to continue the singaround while ruffling the fewest feathers.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 03:10 AM

Well said Joe!

You run the singaround well and make a hard job look easy.

Pete


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: hsempl
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 03:06 AM

Joe,
What line did I cross?

As someone who has struggled with pitch, I am very aware that it takes guts to sing when less sure of oneself; it also takes guts to speak up about racist or misogynistic lyrics - doing so helps make singing spaces welcoming to all singers. I thought the person who did so was gentle and direct - complimenting the song and the singing, saying it's a fun song to sing and they'd enjoyed it, then mentioning the problematic lyric. It's a good model. I was glad they spoke up because I had been feeling uncomfortable but hesitated to speak because I was new to the sing and worried about hurting the singers' feelings.

As for the rest of your message above, there are several unrelated incidents being conflated, and I am disturbed by the violent imagery, which makes me think it would not be safe to be in a physical space that you were in. It also makes me not think it's productive to continue this conversation, at least on my part.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 02:43 AM

OK, Heather, I'm going to be brutally honest, because you've crossed the line. Most people are a little bit afraid and very much self-conscious about singing solo. It takes a lot of courage for them to sing a song. And there are other "my shit don't stink" singers who nonetheless pass judgment on them, thereby attacking what little self-confidence these "lesser" singers have been able to muster. These stinkless singers often seem compelled to attack or at least scold their inferiors. I suppose it's motivated by their own low self-esteem - but it stinks, nonetleless.

The woman who complained, humiliated me publicly a few years ago after I sang when she thought it was inappropriate for me to sing. There's another stinklessly self-involved Mudcat woman who sang over me while I was singing because she did not think I was singing the correct melody - and a second time, she talked over me and kept talking louder and I was singing louder. So, that's three times right off that I have been humiliated and suppressed by these two "shit don't stink" women who somehow think they have the right to control the singing of others. Oh, I can think of a third one, the wife of our old choir director - she jumped all over me because I did not adequately thank her husband on one occasion, and she kept up a pattern of putting people down for years.

It is all I can do to stop myself from jumping up and choking these women when I see them. And I'm certainly not the only person these women have humiliated. These women live to put other people down. So, yeah, the woman who complained is a woman who always complains and always suppresses. She is a squelch.

I can think of men who are squelches, too. They like to control threads at Mudcat and put other people down. These are people who like to be the insiders so they can push other people out.

Another example: I'm in a book club that was discussing a book about Chinese railroad workers in California. We were talking about prejudice against Chinese, and I pulled out a book and read three verses from "John Chinaman" songs to illustrate that racism and to explain that it still exists in people who come to Mudcat to say how "cute" they think the songs are. One of the participants was offended at my reading those verses, and he made sure I knew what a horrible person I was for offending him.

Well, you know, I read those verses for an honest and constructive purpose, and I really don't give a rat's ass that he was offended. And I don't see any righteousness in "shit don't stink" singers who are offended by the singing of others. So, yeah, when people attempt to pass judgment and suppress what others say or sing, it stinks.

And if they attempt to do that sort of shit in a song circle I'm controlling, I'm going to do my best to stop them.

So, yeah, put that in your pipe and smoke it.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: hsempl
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 01:03 AM

Joe,
The issue isn't whether or not the word is objectively offensive - I don't know, and opinions vary I'm sure among Hawai'ians and other Islanders as well. It's that if someone says something is offensive, then it is offending them. It sounds like you are saying you don't care about that. You say you expect people to be smart enough to realize you aren't meaning offense when you sing a historical song. But without context, in a jovial sing-around rather than a more formal venue, not everyone is going to be familiar with every song and know its history. You refer to giving context as an "apology." It's not an apology to give a heads up when a song is known to be possibly offensive. And when (as in the case at Monday's sing) it was clear the singers had not been aware of that fact, there's no need for anything other then, at that point, a quick acknowledgment and apology for offending - same as you would if you'd accidentally stepped on someone's foot - and then moving on. But it sounds like unless you personally believe something is offensive you don't believe it should offend anyone else.
Also, I understand "the deal" with traditional music. For the past four years I've been one of the hosts of a weekly community radio show that focuses on ballads and other traditional music. I think it can be assumed that everyone on Mudcat is aware that the songs our great-grandparents sang were more racist than the songs of today. That felt a little patronizing.
Heather


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 11:59 PM

Well, Heather, it's a difficult question, and not something that can or should be settled in a singaround. Each singer will make his or her own choices for personal reasons, and there will be a wide variety of choices. I don't think I "discounted" the objections to the song - I just said it was something that couldn't be settled at the time of the singaround and should be discussed at Mudcat.

That's the deal with traditional music. Our great-grandparents lived in times where racist ideas and language were common. Those songs were their reality, and they probably sang them without any particular hatred or any idea of offending anyone. And in general, when I sing an historic song, I sing it without apology and expect listeners to be smart enough to discern that these are the ideas of the time the song came from, and are not my own. I don't sing contemporary songs that have any hint of racism, but I give a little tolerance to historic songs rather than belaboring the point.

Last week was the first time in my life that I ever heard that the word "Kanaka" might be offensive. It's going to take me a while to believe that. I will respect all sorts of opinions, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to espouse them myself.

I don't particularly like "Going Down to Old Maui" and don't sing it myself because I am uncomfortable with the attitudes it expresses that are demeaning to women (although I will sing it without comment if people ask me to). But on the other hand, I'm not offended if somebody else sings it - that's their choice. On the other hand, I really enjoy singing "John Kanaka," and had no idea in the world until last week that anybody might find it offensive. And until I hear it from a Hawaiian that it's offensive, I won't put much stock in the assertion it shouldn't be sung.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: hsempl
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 09:33 PM

Whoa, I mistyped above - what i meant to type, instead of "but because I felt like the mention of offensive lyrics was offensive" was "but because I felt like the mention of offensive lyrics was discounted."


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Subject: RE: Tech: Hints for Zoom Singaround Hosts
From: hsempl
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 09:32 PM

From Joe, above: "Somebody yesterday wanted to discuss whether it was appropriate for another singer to use the word "Kanaka" in a song, and I nipped that discussion in the bud and said that we have to let people make their own choices about what they sing, and discuss that stuff in Mudcat threads."

I actually left the sing, not because of the discussion, but because I felt like the mention of offensive lyrics was offensive. I completely understand needing to move the sing along and not prolong verbal discussion during a sing, but I think Joe you said something like "we sing lots of different lyrics" and I was going to message you privately to confirm I had heard you correctly but from the above ("We have to let people make their own choices about what they sing"), I can see that I did understand you correctly. Of course, it is up to the host to decide how to run their sing, but if when someone points out something is offensive that is not taken seriously, then it's not a sing I feel comfortable taking part in. Discussions about lyrics and songs appropriateness (and that some songs might be appropriate in an environment where there is room to give them context but not in another environment) can be done off-sing, but if someone says something is offensive, IMO the only thing to do in real time is apologize and move on.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 06:04 PM

I also speak english as my first language , i am not sure i am fluent, although i do notice a lot of verbally fluent effluent   particularly below the line,
however the abilty to understand the words does not stop me appreciating gealic irish singing.
i appreciate all kinds of tradtional music including bulgarian and mongolian. i occasionally appreciate italian opera.
I would happily describe mudcat in many ways but parochial would not be one of them , a friend of mine today called it Mudlark, that forum mudlark is very useful for getting songs, i rather liked that ..mudlark, what mudlarks Pip old chap, with apologies to Joe Gargery in Great Expectations.


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Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 03:24 PM

I know songs in lots of languages I don't speak. Comes from growing up with the likes of Bikel!


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