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PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban

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PICK A BALE OF COTTON


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(origins) Origins: Pick a Bale of Cotton (55)
Chord Req: Pick A Bale of Cotton (16)


sapper82 03 Dec 06 - 11:12 AM
GUEST 02 Dec 06 - 09:54 PM
Goose Gander 02 Dec 06 - 09:35 PM
GUEST,MC 02 Dec 06 - 04:53 PM
Cool Beans 22 Nov 05 - 11:07 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 22 Nov 05 - 10:59 AM
Goose Gander 22 Nov 05 - 10:48 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 22 Nov 05 - 10:36 AM
Goose Gander 22 Nov 05 - 10:15 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 22 Nov 05 - 09:34 AM
dianavan 21 Nov 05 - 08:06 PM
Richard Bridge 21 Nov 05 - 05:45 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 20 Nov 05 - 07:06 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Nov 05 - 06:15 PM
dianavan 20 Nov 05 - 05:21 PM
Joybell 20 Nov 05 - 04:13 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 20 Nov 05 - 12:44 PM
Terry K 20 Nov 05 - 10:38 AM
dick greenhaus 20 Nov 05 - 10:23 AM
M.Ted 20 Nov 05 - 10:22 AM
mg 20 Nov 05 - 12:32 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Nov 05 - 11:56 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Nov 05 - 10:13 PM
Azizi 19 Nov 05 - 09:36 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 19 Nov 05 - 09:22 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 19 Nov 05 - 09:15 PM
Terry K 19 Nov 05 - 08:28 PM
GUEST,Catrinka 19 Nov 05 - 07:52 PM
M.Ted 19 Nov 05 - 05:50 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 19 Nov 05 - 05:08 PM
wysiwyg 19 Nov 05 - 04:19 PM
GUEST,D 19 Nov 05 - 02:36 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 19 Nov 05 - 01:57 PM
Terry K 19 Nov 05 - 01:45 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Nov 05 - 01:34 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 19 Nov 05 - 12:03 PM
dick greenhaus 19 Nov 05 - 10:27 AM
Ron Davies 19 Nov 05 - 10:11 AM
Jeri 19 Nov 05 - 10:00 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 18 Nov 05 - 11:34 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 18 Nov 05 - 11:06 PM
Ferrara 18 Nov 05 - 10:30 PM
dick greenhaus 18 Nov 05 - 09:52 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Nov 05 - 07:16 PM
Joybell 18 Nov 05 - 06:55 PM
Peace 18 Nov 05 - 06:54 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 18 Nov 05 - 06:37 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 18 Nov 05 - 06:36 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 18 Nov 05 - 06:35 PM
GUEST,the old pooperoo 18 Nov 05 - 06:34 PM
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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: sapper82
Date: 03 Dec 06 - 11:12 AM

From: GUEST
Date: 02 Dec 06 - 09:54 PM

Who is Mr Gibson?

Son of Mrs. Gibson perhaps?


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Dec 06 - 09:54 PM

Who is Mr Gibson?


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: Goose Gander
Date: 02 Dec 06 - 09:35 PM

" . . . your bumber than an elven year old girl who obviously knows more than you."

Thank you, Guest MC, for this pearl of wisdom!


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: GUEST,MC
Date: 02 Dec 06 - 04:53 PM

Well Mr. Gibson, you apperentlly got dropped on your head when you were a baby, because you dont realize that this is a song that brings back slavery memories, and yes there are good ones.
this girl stands up for what she beleives in, and every other idiot that thinks they know what they are talking about, should probably do their black history research, because your bumber than an elven year old girl who obviously knows more than you.


Thank you airheads!


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: Cool Beans
Date: 22 Nov 05 - 11:07 AM

AS a resident of the Berkley School District I must clear something up about its demographics.
The school district encompasses three adjoining towns. Berkley is one of them; its ethnic makeup may be as stated in Q's posting of Nov. 18. The other two towns are:
Huntington Woods, about 50 percent Jewish and with one of the highest rates of folks with college and advanced degrees in the whole USA.
Part of Oak Park, also about 50 percent Jewish, and with more African Americans.
Although most of the Huntington Woods and Oak Park kids attend Norup Middle School, which is in Oak Park, this issue involves the whole school district.
Peace's crack about the "Horst Wessel Song" is far from the mark, and uncharacteristically ignorant.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 22 Nov 05 - 10:59 AM

It's not Lead Belly (two word's please) song! He made it popular, but the Lomax's recorded several versions during their collecting.

You may be right in everything you say about the song. Yes, images portrayed by the media and artists recordings can be misleading and false. That still doesn't hide the fact that many people are uncomfortable with singing this song for reasons other than it's history.

I played three versions of it on my radio show this week - Lead Belly's (more of a dance version), Harry Belafonte's (a very odd sounding setting if you look at it from a 2005 perspective) and the Freedom Singers (probably my favorite and one that I would classify as "self-affirming", but that is my opinion only.)    The story of "self-affirmation" has been told, and in that school. Just not in the concert.

It is not a "misunderstanding" but a legitimate response to the words and style of the song as felt by more than one African-American in 2005. For the 1000th time, no one is hiding or banning the song.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: Goose Gander
Date: 22 Nov 05 - 10:48 AM

But the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Leadbelly's song is the point of this story, as far as I see it. 'Images developed through media' are often misleading or false. Far from a slavery song, this was a song of self-affirmation. Why not tell that story?


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 22 Nov 05 - 10:36 AM

It doesn't have to be repeated because it isn't the point of the story.

A song does not have to be from a particular era to evoke a response. This song has developed an image, primarily through media, and it does evoke a response.   You don't have to agree with the reasoning, I'm not sure if I do as well. However I do respect the individuals reaction and believe that the school had the appropriate response.

The issue is still a matter of respect and situation.   The song was not "banned", the song was pulled from a concert but discussed elsewhere in the school.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: Goose Gander
Date: 22 Nov 05 - 10:15 AM

How many times must it be repeated that both blacks and whites picked cotton, and that this was not a slave-era song?


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 22 Nov 05 - 09:34 AM

"I regret to see a book-burning attitude. "

I regret to see that as well. Thank goodness we did not see it in this case.


"My opinion is that they should take the opportunity to educate their child about slavery and the work songs that helped them get through those troubled times."

And I agree with your opinion. That appears to be exactly what the school did. The ARE teaching the children how wrong it was to have slavery in this country and the horror of that lifestyle. They just decided the best place to educate was not in the concert. I agree with that too.   I applaud the school for using folk songs to teach their children.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: dianavan
Date: 21 Nov 05 - 08:06 PM

Ron Olesko - Of course its an opinion. My opinion is that they should take the opportunity to educate their child about slavery and the work songs that helped them get through those troubled times. Its a chance to make China feel proud. Are they trying to deny that this is a part of U.S. history? They should explain that if anyone should feel shame, it was the people who promoted slavery and grew rich from the labour of their slaves.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Nov 05 - 05:45 PM

I regret to see a book-burning attitude.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton'
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 20 Nov 05 - 07:06 PM

"The parents are doing their child more harm than good. They are wrong"

That is an opinion, not a fact.

You are not the parent or the child and you do not know the circumstances.   I would also ask, again, how many African-Americans feel comfortable singing this song in 2006?

There is much we can learn from it, and if you take the time to read the superintendent's response you will see that the students are continuing the discussion.

This 11 year old and her father are not the first African-American's who have trouble with this song. You have to look beyond your own circumstances to see this.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Nov 05 - 06:15 PM

Yes, they are wrong, but one cannot retroactively educate them. Their attitudes are passed on to the next generation.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: dianavan
Date: 20 Nov 05 - 05:21 PM

When China said, "...it wasn't a nice song to sing because it's talking about African-American people," her father should have explained to her that it was a song that helped slaves get through their work. It may have been slavery, but never-the-less, music lightened their burden. THEN, the child could have felt proud that her heritage included people that could overcome such oppression.

Its O.K. to 'talk about African-American people' or any 'other' people for that matter. Whats not O.K. is to ridicule others. This song does not ridicule anybody.

As usual, instead of being a responsible parent, the 'problem' was shifted to the school. Lets not deal with it home, lets blame somebody! Lets blame somebody for not taking into consideration our little darling's feelings. How do you discuss folk history if you are going to ignore slavery?

Once the principal was informed of the problem, she had no choice. Nobody wants to see a kid with her feeling's hurt. She is not, however, responsible for hurting the kid's feelings in the first place.

China's parents should be educating their child. If she's going to a school where she is a minority, they should be bending over backwards to educate her at home. Why didn't they take the time to explore the history of the song before making their daughter the center of attention.

I'm sure the daughter would be a lot happier if her parents would have dealt with the matter differently. She would be much stronger if her parents would have helped her to develop some coping strategies. The world is not going to adjust to her and her feelings. How will she cope in the real world where nobody really cares how she feels and her mommy and daddy aren't there to protect her?

I didn't catch her age, but if she's old enough to ask the questions, she's old enough to know the truth. Why are her parents coddling her to such a degree?

The kid is right and the principal is right. The parents are doing their child more harm than good. They are wrong.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: Joybell
Date: 20 Nov 05 - 04:13 PM

A state of high indignation is a popular way of getting an adrenalin rush. Certain types of media thrive on it. It's a seductive but potentially dangerous activity. Just my opinion. Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 20 Nov 05 - 12:44 PM

NO ONE SUGGESTED PUTTING TOGETHER A LIST OF SONGS THAT COULD NOT POSSIBLY OFFEND ANYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This story has been twisted around and people are using it to grind their own ax.   The story about a specific school and a specific song had a specific resolution - one which I happen to agree with.   

I don't think anyone suggested "banning" the song or pretending that it never existed. The issue comes down to whether or not it was appropriate for these children in this situation. You may disagree, and that is fine. There was no right or wrong resolution to this story.

There are Child Ballads that deal with rape, incest, infanticide and more taboo subjects. Would you be raising a stink if one of those songs were "banned" from a middle school concert?

There have been exhibits of Nazi art in museums across the world. Often it is met with protests. Is that an appropriate response? You tell me.

You can't hide or forget the past. You can learn from it. However there are appropriate places to share art and inappropriate places.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: Terry K
Date: 20 Nov 05 - 10:38 AM

Dick, how long would your DT be if we listened to every hyper-sensitive moaner that wanted to input?


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton'
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 20 Nov 05 - 10:23 AM

Just for my own amusement, I've been trying to put together a set list that couldn't possibly offend anyone.

It's very short.

Reminiscent of "The Book of Irish Erotic Art" or "The Wit and Wisdom of George W. Bush"


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: M.Ted
Date: 20 Nov 05 - 10:22 AM

China has labor shortages in the farm areas because there are lots of better paying, less physically demanding jobs in manufacturing--


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: mg
Date: 20 Nov 05 - 12:32 AM

There is a surplus of labor in North Korea but of course there are fears they would not return after harvest. Tragic situation. but how did China have a shortage of labor? mg


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 11:56 PM

Try again- Cotton harvest


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 10:13 PM

Digression-
Hand picking of cotton is still strong in China, particularly in Xinjiang. According to China News, some 1.8 megatons of cotton were picked last year. Many of the pickers don't live there but come for the harvest. No stigma is attached to picking.
The article is no longer available, but this brief note and photograph and still on line: Cotton Picking
China Daily lists 2005 prices at over US $2100/ton, above the international price, and a good deal for farmers. There is a shortage of labor. Article and picture: Cotton Harvest


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 09:36 PM

I'm posting a link to the Racial No Nos thread as I started it as a result of this one.

Come and post a comment there if you haven't already done so.


Azizi


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 09:22 PM

The Lomax's recorded several versions of the song in prisons, including Lead Belly's. The history of the song is very important.

However, I can see where people have an issue of the way the song is presented in modern times. Listen to Lead Belly's recording out of context and it sounds horribly dated and the imagery will remind some of the minstrel renditions that were supposed to represent African-American's. For children, I do think it would be inappropriate.

I do plan on airing Lead Belly's version on my radio show tomorrow and I will read the speech by Dr. Zumsteg.

Everyone can make up their own mind on the song.   So can Greg and and China Montgomery. I respect their opinion just as much as everyones on Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 09:15 PM

Do you honestly think Montgomery is the only person that felt this way?   Ask your African-American friends what they think of the song. Ask the NAACP why they had a problem with it.

I've never said I agree with his position, but I can certainly see how it could bother him and others.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: Terry K
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 08:28 PM

Ron Olesko - you really think Montgomery's behaviour was "teaching morality to his children" - in a word, bollocks. I'm every inch FOR parents doing proper parenting, but to brainwash his daughter into his own misguided prejudices was not what I had in mind.

Then again, parents do the same thing with religion don't they.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton'
From: GUEST,Catrinka
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 07:52 PM

I learned this song from an old Lead Bellyb record and then
I heard Harry Belafonte do it with lots of drums and other
stuff. It was a joyous recording that made me, indeed, want
to "jump down and spin around". That's what I did. I sometimes
got dizzy from spinning around but oh what fun I had.
Loosen up, China. If you are so into black consciousness what
the hell are you doing playing with Barbie dolls?! Barbie is
whitey personified.
I'll take Lead Belly and Harry Belafonte ANY day.
Peace to you and your misguided papa.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: M.Ted
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 05:50 PM

Someone said that you pick your battles, and I think the father picked wrong. At the end of the day, what did he accomplish? Not much.

Even though I love to play this song, I don't think that it was a very good choice in a program of music intended to represent different cultures--on that level, I can understand why a middleclass parent, perhaps even a "yuppie", would feel that this seemingly primitive, rural song, which is nominally about picking cotton, did not represent his culture--

However, the fact that the father decided to call in the newspapers and the NAACP, and play the "race" card did more damage than good. There probably was relatively little racial tension at this school before this happened, but it will be an issue there in the future, because a lot of people will resent both the disruption that was caused and the embarassment that has been cause to the school and the community.

Worst of all, middle school kids can be very cruel, and any time anyone is annoyed with the girl who is at the center of this, the words "pick a bale of cotton" can be use to taunt and torment her. They can even be used against any of the other black students, and what are really just ordinary problems between ordinary kids will be escalated to "racial problems"--


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton'
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 05:08 PM

"Had the father investigated with his daughter more on the song and its origins instead of passing off judgement and opinion, I'd have more respect for dogging the song. What did he teach his daughter? To immediately complain loudly to get your way?"

Perhaps. I think standing up and complaining about something is an important skill.   "Question Authority" was the the buzzwords of my generation and it seems to have been replaced by "Shut up and do as your are told".

Again, I point to the words of the school superintendt - "And while I believe very much that we need to continue the discussion on why this song evokes such strong reactions from people and what are the underlying causes for these reactions, I feel that this evening should be for enjoying our children's singing abilities."

I actually contacted Dr. Zumsteg and invited her on my radio show to discuss this. She declined because she felt that she is not an expert on folk music and could not add anything to her remarks. I do find it comforting to know that the song WILL be discussed and so will this incident.   I do think she made the right decision.

"Anybody see any hope in what we do, or does this one incident negate it all?"
The sky is NOT falling.   People tend to puff up their chests and jump to conclusions, but in reality we can and do make a difference.   If the only thing we do here at Mudcat is get someone to consider the alternate point of view, then we have accomplished something. I woudl not call our discussion an aruguement, and hopefully people have thicker skin than to think we are at odds with one another.   There is no right or wrong reaction to this story, but the discussion we have with each other and our children is incredibly valuable.

There are many shades of grey that we fail to see as we become set in our ways.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: wysiwyg
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 04:19 PM

My thoughts in the last hour or so since I looked in on this thread.... just a ramble or two:

Wow, a lot of divergent opinions here. So much energy tied up in them.... What would be the one thing about this incident upon which we might all agree? What action could we each take, in THAT direction, with one another's support? Or.... do we prefer the arguments with one another, to action to make anything better?

Do we think our arguing with one another, here, accomplishes anything?

DARE I point out that what we CAN already do, we ARE already doing, and that this is a good thing? And that we can't actually do a lot to influence a scohol district far, far away, while the one down the street might appreciate our music and our experience?

Anybody see any hope in what we do, or does this one incident negate it all?

~Susan


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: GUEST,D
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 02:36 PM

Someone wrote...It was a lot of power to place in the hands of an eleven year old, I'm thinking.

Kind of like how we allow parents to make the final decision about retention nowadays. There sure are MANY below grade-level readers in America's schools. If a parent wants their child to move on with their peers to the next grade level even though they are not ready, we allow them to. Parents have more control over that than teachers.

Had the father investigated with his daughter more on the song and its origins instead of passing off judgement and opinion, I'd have more respect for dogging the song. What did he teach his daughter? To immediately complain loudly to get your way?

Long live our folk heritage! Proud or ashamed, it is ours.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton'
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 01:57 PM

"...after they had adjusted her thinking on the matter as parents have a tendency to do."

So, on one hand we hear people complain that parents aren't as involved in teaching morality to their children and let the schools do it, and on the other hand we complain when parents actually do it. Hmmm.



"Each with their own little box of historical fallacies."

And who decides who is right and who is wrong in their interpretation of history? Time marches on my friend. While another generation laughed at Stepnfechit, another generation sees the stupidity of the character and situation.

This is not a "yes" or "no" issue. I honestly think that the majority of Mudcatters (who happen to be aging and white) cannot put themselves in the shoes of this family.   I can't.   I don't think it is right to hide songs in the closet but it doesn't mean that they need to be displayed for public entertainment, especially when the participants are bothered by it.

It is obvious that this group on Mudcat will never see eye to eye on this story.   We each have different sets of values and our own personal history. All I ask is that it would be nice to try and see it from the other persons point of view. It doesn't mean you have to agree, but understanding is the only way we will accomplish any changes in this world.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: Terry K
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 01:45 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought the child involved had no view on the song (except the need to learn it for the concert) until her parents latched on to it with their ideas, viz;

"China Montgomery simply wants to sing. It is her first love, not including math and Barbie dolls.
But when the Anderson Middle School student showed her parents the lyrics to a song her school choir is scheduled to sing in a concert Wednesday, they were appalled".

At a later time the child was reported as sharing her parents' view - yeah right - after they had adjusted her thinking on the matter as parents have a tendency to do. In other words, it seems they taught her that she should be offended, so she was.

The school lady was right to pull the song because it otherwise would have made the children's concert into a political football at the expense of what they were actually trying to do, i.e. sing folk songs.

Now if only there was a way to let those Montgomery parents know that out in the big wide world there are things happening that they really should get "appalled" about.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 01:34 PM

Does anyone see a relationship to the growing list of hyphenated peoples?
Each with their own little box of historical fallacies.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton'
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 12:03 PM

Sorry Dick, we will just have a difference of opinion on that.

Censorship is being told not to play or air something. There was a strong objection from at least one of the performers and the organizers decided not to include that song. It is the same as any artist making a set list and deciding not to include a song because they fear it will offend. Your level of sensitivity is your own.   The school discussed the song, taught it to the children, and moved on.

Perhaps it is time for all of us to realize that all battles have two sides and we aren't always in the right.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton'
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 10:27 AM

I recall way back when Stan Freburg had a radio show. He had a running gag that went somehing like:

"Who was that maked man?"
"The Lone Ranger! and his faithful Swiss sidekick, Tonto--this way we don't offend anyone."

or

"I had a case of the flu"
"Hong Kong Flu?"
"No, Swiss flu. This way we don't offend anyone."

Ron, it was censorship, no matter what you may call it.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: Ron Davies
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 10:11 AM

I'm one of those who thinks a great teaching opportunity--yes, teaching at the concert--was missed by not singing the song at the concert--and talking about the context.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton'
From: Jeri
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 10:00 AM

I think I likely would singit because I'm just contrary, and I DON'T see the song as 'Stepin Fetchit', any more than any kids' game. They are perky and frivolous.

My honest take on this whole thing is that the people doing the complaining think the song is dumb, and that's why they object to it being associated with African Americans. Saying it has anything to do with racism is a very long stretch. Well, other than saying it's an attempt to make African Americans look dumb because the song was created and popularized by African Americans. Suck it up. European Americans have a lot more to answer for musically, and African Americans don't get to have only good songs. The song-as-racist is a difficult search to justify why people don't like the song. It's not racist, it's just a dumb song (IMO).

I can understand why it was pulled from the show. People have to pick their battles and they just decided not to make their children pawns in this one. Bystanders such as we don't get to decide what they want to put their kids through.

Black Americans don't get to make songs they don't like disappear, they don't get to make Stepin Fetchit disappear or any other person or thing they see as negative. White Americans don't get to make misntrel songs disappear, or the KKK or George Wallace or lynchings or guys with pickup trucks and long ropes. We don't get to clean up history. Speaking as a white American, if I ever try to claim racism never existed, find one of those 'coon' songs, get right up in my face and sing it LOUD. Tell me about Stepin Fetchit who was loved and respected despite the demeanor and attitude he affected. Talk to me about Leadbelly, who had an awful lot of negatives going for him, but for some reason is remembered mainly for what he did right. Leadbelly-- who sang and may have composed this song, and who also had to choose his battles.

I DO think that being aware of potential hurts is good, but it's best if people on both sides of an issue try to understand one another. One side simply demanding only to be appeased is, in the long run, going to stand in the way of understanding.

Heard a good line on the news last night:
"So are _____ going on the offensive?"
"No, they're just going on the obnoxious."

Asking someone to send the school was a great intention. Get the school a sampling of the 'real deal'.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 Nov 05 - 11:34 PM

Let me throw out a question.

Let us say you are at a song circle. You decide to sing "Pick a Bale of Cotton". Someone stops you and says they are uncomfortable with the song.   After you give your points on how the song is not about slavery, it is a dance song, a song that was sung by many prominent African-American musicians, etc. - let's say that person said the song still makes them feel uncomfortable. Would you go ahead and sing it anyway?


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 Nov 05 - 11:06 PM

I'm sorry Dick, but I feel you are missing the point. I don't disagree with you and your points about the songs.   But that is not the point of this issue. There is no reason to make children pawns in a silly battle over definitions and politics.   

Because you are uncomfortable about a song NOT being sung, a child should be made to feel uncomfortable by having it sung? I think we are all a bit older and wiser and can understand reasons, but why make children suffer?

The bottom line is, the song was NOT censored.   The song is still available, they just did not sing it in their concert. That is NOT censorship,that is common decency. The school still discussed the issue and did not hide from the facts.   Singing the song would serve no purpose.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton'
From: Ferrara
Date: 18 Nov 05 - 10:30 PM

mmmm ... "things that aren't offensive" is in the ear of the beholder. Niggardly is fast disappearing from the language, and I have felt for a long time that the main reason is it no longer in use is that is sounds like the N-word as Aaron McGruder calls it. People don't want to say it.

People used to refer to the "limbs" of a piano because, I suppose, they thought "legs" had the potential to evoke prurient images. People in different eras are offended by different stuff. Mostly the stuff that offends people isn't inherently or universally offensive.

Well, except maybe for really gross stuff that most people would never do anyway, because they KNOW it would cause serious offense.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton'
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 18 Nov 05 - 09:52 PM

Ron-
I'm sorry that the young African-American was made uncomfortable by the song. I'm sure that many folks--including myself--were made uncomfortable by the its being censored.

My point is that people who get offended by things that aren't offensive have problems that are best dealt with by education and explanation, not by censorship. Go back and think about the two examples I quoted above; Should "Groundhog" be similarly removed from the repetoire? Should "niggardly" be removed from the language?


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Nov 05 - 07:16 PM

"WAGED AND UNWAGED instead of working and not working" - and there's something wrong with that?

The point behind that surely is that there is one hellopf a lt of work, and a lot of it the most important work there is, which doesn't involve getting wages. Saying that someone who is putting in all God's hours doing that kind of stuff is "not working" is both ludicrous and insulting. (And at the other end there are people pulling in large salaries of whiom it is equally ludicrous to refer to them as "working".)


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: Joybell
Date: 18 Nov 05 - 06:55 PM

I once had an experience similar to the one noted by the teacher involved in all of this. I was singing at a restaurant - going from table to table. I sang "The Black Velvet band" for a pair of women. No reason. They hadn't made a request. One of them burst into tears. It had been her husband's favourite song. He'd been dead exactly a year. Her friend had taken her out so that she wouldn't be alone at home by herself that night. Leaving aside the strange coincidence ....it makes me wonder OOOOOH it makes me wonder...
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: Peace
Date: 18 Nov 05 - 06:54 PM

"At the start of the war the division had another patch, one showing a Native American sign and reflecting the division's Texas and Oklahoma National Guards origin. But the powers in Washington told the division that it had to replace the patch with something else. The original patch had a crooked cross, better known in the WWII era as a swastika, and this would not do for men destined for hard fighting against the Nazi war machine. The Texas/Oklahoma men agreed and chose the thunderbird. My reference for this is my late uncle, Private Eugene Bondurant, who served with the 45th Division in WWII."


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 Nov 05 - 06:37 PM

The song was causing a problem with at least one child in a specific school.   The audiencd was young. There are complex issues that are not appropriate


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 Nov 05 - 06:36 PM

Holy shit, nobody is saying to SUPPRESS THE DAMN SONG!!!


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 Nov 05 - 06:35 PM

Joy, I did not mean to infer that it was an actual symbol as a swastika, but it does stir up images. Withness the use of the song in films.


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Subject: RE: PC-Where is thy sting?-'Pick a Bale of Cotton' Ban
From: GUEST,the old pooperoo
Date: 18 Nov 05 - 06:34 PM

well of course that song should be suppressed if it offends somebody. not only should it be suppressed, but we should search out all books that feature it, and burn them in a big fire. and as long as we've got a fire going, we might as well burn all the other books that have offended people -- the works of voltaire, tom paine, jefferson, burke, mark twain, ralph nader, marx, freud, darwin, hume, and of course salman rushdie -- i'm sure we'll have no trouble finding more.
we can all join hands around the fire and chant DIE SCHUNDSCHRIFTEN MUSSEN VERSCHWINDERN! ok?


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