A classic rendition of "God Bless America" during the seventh inning stretch in Yankee Stadium and an iconic statue outside of the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia will no longer exist and I am not really sure why. If you have not heard already, there has been a recent outrage over famous singer Kate Smith which has led to the removal of her stunning rendition of "God Bless America" at Yankee Stadium and her famous statue outside of the Philadelphia Flyers home arena. What has caused this?
Well, it takes going back to the 1930s in order to tell you the answer.
Eighty years ago, Kate Smith recorded a couple of fairly racist songs. Songs titled "Pickaninny Heaven" and "That's Why Darkies Were Born," both without a doubt having racist lyrics demeaning black people, specifically black slaves.
However, for two songs not even written by Smith to receive this type of reaction is beyond me.
I want to raise a couple of points to people reading this who might not agree with me, and I am not asking for people to agree with me because my feelings on this are my opinion and just like people's opinions were taken into consideration during the removal of this song and statue were respected, I expect mine to be as well.
First, I would like to state the fact that she RECORDED those two songs in the 1930s... the 1930s, people! We are all ignorant if we are going to sit here and justify holding people in the 1930s to the same standards as people today. We are smarter and kinder because we have learned from past mistakes, especially mistakes from history.
Listen, times were different, people thought differently, and although slavery was sick, disgusting, systematic oppression, that was the basis of these songs.
You know, Kate Smith did not go Taylor Swift on the 1930 public sitting in her room writing these lyrics in her bedroom and dropping singles to make millions of dollars. Kate Smith was a talented singer and actress who was asked to perform a song and she did so. Although there are no direct quotes from Kate Smith, there have been several reliable sources that have stated Kate Smith was the furthest from racist and was simply just doing a job she was asked to do. I mean it is seriously unbelievable that these actions were taken.
The second point I would like to raise and express is the fact that Paul Robeson, a very successful influential African-American baritone player and actor sang the same racist songs. But it is OK for his statues to be placed all over countless universities and for buildings to be named after him but everything Kate Smith must be removed...? It just does not add up and makes little sense to me.
That is why I applaud Wildwood, NJ Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. for not only saying he will play Smiths rendition of "God Bless America" on the boardwalk but for also saying he will gladly take the Kate Smith statue off of Philadelphia's hands. Mayor Troiano is not trying to re-write history and remove everything and everyone that might have done, said or in this case, sang a pre-written song that might have offended some people.
Lastly, I would like to end this article with just one more opinionated confession. I feel troubled for this country and its social construct. I really do not think I can be alone in feeling disbelief at the fact that two storied sports franchises removed Kate Smith from their legacies. It was said that Kate Smith was a big reason the Flyers won the Stanley Cup back in 1974 with the way she got the crowd into the game with her performances. Think about that — she had such an impact on the Flyers that they put a statue of a singer outside of their arena... please tell me another team that has a statue of the singer outside their stadium... and the Yankees... since 2001 "God Bless America" was played every seventh-inning stretch at home. The rendition was so famous it would even be televised, a rare sight, because basically no seventh-inning stretches are televised which adds to the point that this situation is seriously unbelievable.
Also, if we are taking statues down of Kate Smith for singing a racist song in a movie, maybe we shouldn't allow players, especially black players to wear the Yankee uniform, a team who openly denied hiring black players back in that same era. Imagine that, no more Yankees or pretty much any sports franchise because they once did not allow black players on their team in the 1930s? Seems a little over the top doesn't it?
We can nit-pick all we want; we can go back and find dirt on everyone because opinions are always changing, time goes by, and everything becomes history. It is how we handle history and learn from past mistakes that define our culture. We cannot re-write history no matter how much we try. To the Yankees and Flyers, you look pathetic, soft and a victim of today. A time where we can put up a statue of a person in 1986 and it be OK, but just 33 years later that same statue is suddenly an issue because of two recorded songs sung by a white lady from a movie written 80 years ago... HAHA, it's disgusting and comical all at the same time. Maybe they should just take out the national anthem, pledge of allegiance and maybe just throw away the constitution because I am pretty sure those were written by "racists" too... Unreal.
But as famous sports analyst Stephen A. Smith would say "people like me" just do not understand and if that is the case then my apologies for offending anyone, once again these are simply just my opinions.