Monday, November 14, 2005

What Is It About Places Named Berkley?

A school in Berkley, Michigan has pulled a song called "Pick a Bale of Cotton" from a middle school concert. I am not familiar with the song, but apparently it contains such racially charged lyrics as,

"Jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton. Gotta jump down, turn around, Oh, Lordie, pick a bale a day."

Oh, the horror, the horror.

The song was pulled after one parent complained. The child of that parent explained their problem with the song thusly: "They were bringing back the memories of how African-Americans picked cotton, and it wasn't a good memory. It was disrespectful to African-Americans."

Should there be any kind of pain and suffering settlement out of this, I hope I can get in on it. Reading the above statement made me remember how my European-American grandfather made his European-American children pick cotton on their small farm. It's wasn't a good memory. It was disrespectful of the Berkley School District to force me to remember these events, and I hope that in future they will be more sensitive.

To further that aim, may I suggest that the Berkley schools also remove "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" from any future inclusion in its concerts, as the line "Well, you get in that kitchen, make some noise with the pots and pans" brings up painful memories of how female-Americans have been forced to labor in the homes of their male oppressors for low or (more often) no wages?

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