Kate Smith's racist lyrics cause her removal from baseball games

By TYLER ANZALONE
On May 1, 2019

Photo courtesy of NBC Television

Kate Smith, a famous singer who was best known for her rendition of Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” had her statue removed by the Philadelphia Flyers after racist lyrics were found in some of her songs.

Smith passed away in 1986 and was a respected singer in American history. Her tribute to serenade the veterans and American people with her rendition of the song could be heard at New York Yankees and Philadelphia Flyers games.

The song had played at Yankee Stadium ever since the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred, and the Flyers erected a statue to honor her after she died.       

Numerous people reacted angrily to the news, especially veterans in New Jersey, according to the New York Post.

A petition posted by the American Legion Post 184, located in Wildwood, New Jersey, read, "The removal of the statue is an attack on veterans who fought for this country. Without the veterans of this country, the American people would not know the freedoms they have today. Kate Smith traveled over 500,000 miles in her lifetime to perform for the troops. To us, she is Miss Patriotism.”

Some Americans are angry with the decision to remove her completely because they feel it is disrespectful to not only veterans, but all Americans. Anyone who sacrifices their life to keep this country safe should not be disrespected by anything that takes a strike at tradition and patriotism.   

In a CNN article, Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. made it clear that he will continue to play her rendition every single day.

“There's an underlying current here of trying to change history. You don't change history, you understand it and you learn and look back and see if you can make it better," Troiano told CNN.

Should we get rid of the Declaration of Independence because it was written by a slave owner? One of the problems with our society today is that there is a rush to erase history and create a world that won’t offend anyone.

Let me be clear, racism is abhorrent and anything that encourages it should not be allowed. However, history should be learned from, both the good and the bad. Erasing someone and their accomplishments, both good and bad, is a disservice to future generations. This goes beyond the moment we are living in. It calls to both the past and the future.

How do we learn from our mistakes if we cannot remember them?       

We should examine the songs that were written in the past that may have controversial lyrics, like Smith’s rendition of “That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” and make it known so we can make sure not to allow such ugliness in our songs today.

Is it fair to judge history through today's more evolved standards? If history isn't available as a guide, would our societal norms evolve?

America is a country for all kinds of people, and we know this today as we come together as one regardless of skin color. We can still love Kate Smith’s rendition of "God Bless America," but we should use her other songs as a life lesson to be fair and kind to all people.

 

tanzalon@ramapo.edu

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