Many familiar songs and chants that we call folk songs and nursery rhymes have racist roots and it is time to avoid teaching these songs to the next generation.
Below are 2 articles with the original lyrics to many of these songs and chants and please be warned that the words are offensive. Many of these were performed by minstrel groups which represented African Americans as caricatures and performers wore blackface.
I have written to Alfred Publishers, one of the biggest publishers of piano books and methods, asking them to remove these songs from upcoming publications and they will remove them from future publications but they are in many books on our shelves and many of us have taught them unknowingly to students. Please take these songs out of your repertoire and replace them with songs not rooted in systemic racism.
List of songs and rhymes to avoid
- Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Moe
- Five Little Monkeys
- Ten Little Indians
- Chinese, Japanese, Dirty Knees, Look at These
- Oh! Susanna by Stephen Foster
- Short’nin Bread
- Do Your Ears Hang Low
- Bowl of Cherries
- Jimmy Crack Corn
- Camptown Races by Stephen Foster
- Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me
- Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport
A spreadsheet I found with a big list: