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Is this song considered racist?


Kinsa

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I was taking a shower this morning and remembering a song from my childhood. I'm wondering if, by today's standards, this song is considered too racist, or is it still considered okay? I honestly don't know anymore. These issues confuse me. (LOL)

 

"Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red and yellow, black and white

They are precious in his sight

Jesus loves the little children of the world"

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If I wanted to use the song, I'd change the third line. People identify as black, brown, and white, but does anyone self-identify as yellow or red?

I don't know about self-identifying, but I was taught that yellow was Asians, and red was native Americans.

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I don't know about self-identifying, but I was taught that yellow was Asians, and red was native Americans.

Of course, but my concern is that those are terms others use, not that people from those groups use. That makes a difference to me.

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Of course, but my concern is that those are terms others use, not that people from those groups use. That makes a difference to me.

Yes, true. I doubt people self-identify that way. But I'm white, so what do I know? (LOL)

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I don't know about self-identifying, but I was taught that yellow was Asians, and red was native Americans.

Yellow was specifically for chinese not for all asians. Red was for "red indians" regardless of country. I sang that song in a catholic preschool in the 70s during circle time and of course the nuns didn't interpret the song.

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Yellow was specifically for chinese not for all asians. Red was for "red indians" regardless of country. I sang that song in a catholic preschool in the 70s during circle time and of course the nuns didn't interpret the song.

I wonder if the yellow reference had to do with the opium epidemic in China a hundred or so years ago, where opium users looked yellow-skinned? I suppose that could be interpreted negatively?

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I wonder if the yellow reference had to do with the opium epidemic in China a hundred or so years ago, where opium users looked yellow-skinned? I suppose that could be interpreted negatively?

Yellow was associated with the Chinese way before the opium wars. Yellow is the royal color. The emperor's robes are yellow.

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I was taking a shower this morning and remembering a song from my childhood. I'm wondering if, by today's standards, this song is considered too racist, or is it still considered okay? I honestly don't know anymore. These issues confuse me. (LOL)

 

"Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red and yellow, black and white

They are precious in his sight

Jesus loves the little children of the world"

 

I remember, growing up, we tended to change the order of the 3rd line around, even getting silly as long as we could figure out rhyming words for the 4th line.

 

"Pink and purple, red and blue

Jesus loves me better than you"

 

etc.

 

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If I wanted to use the song, I'd change the third line. People identify as black, brown, and white, but does anyone self-identify as yellow or red?

 

Yeah, that is DEFINITELY not the way anybody would write that song today, and for just that reason.

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It was clearly never intended to be racist in its original context.

 

It's absolutely inappropriate (in a racist way) to sing it now.

 

The difference is that we have (shockingly) become aware that it isn't very "loving" to call people "red" or "yellow" -- since those are not the words those people groups prefer, and they are words that have been constantly used in derogatory ways throughout colonial and racist periods of history (including the present).

 

We don't "love little children" by referring to them in a song that uses words that wouldn't be polite in ordinary conversation. Nobody says, "You met a new friend? Was she the little yellow girl you were playing on the monkey bars with?"

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It was clearly never intended to be racist in its original context.

 

It's absolutely inappropriate (in a racist way) to sing it now.

 

The difference is that we have (shockingly) become aware that it isn't very "loving" to call people "red" or "yellow" -- since those are not the words those people groups prefer, and they are words that have been constantly used in derogatory ways throughout colonial and racist periods of history (including the present).

 

We don't "love little children" by referring to them in a song that uses words that wouldn't be polite in ordinary conversation. Nobody says, "You met a new friend? Was she the little yellow girl you were playing on the monkey bars with?"

Small children singing it for Sunday school is racist? If the original intent wasn't and the current intent isn't then why make hay? There are so many bigger fish to fry. It might be worth discussion with an older child but that's about it.

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Small children singing it for Sunday school is racist? If the original intent wasn't and the current intent isn't then why make hay? There are so many bigger fish to fry. It might be worth discussion with an older child but that's about it.

 

When you know better, you should do better.

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Small children singing it for Sunday school is racist? If the original intent wasn't and the current intent isn't then why make hay? There are so many bigger fish to fry. It might be worth discussion with an older child but that's about it.

 

But hold on, Arctic Mama. I admit, I'm not very conversant on the Sunday School thing, but surely there are hundreds of songs they could be singing? If they sing another song instead of this song, is it really going to ruin their week?

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Small children singing it for Sunday school is racist? If the original intent wasn't and the current intent isn't then why make hay? There are so many bigger fish to fry. It might be worth discussion with an older child but that's about it.

Small children who think in concrete terms will most likely believe the song is about muppets (because no real people are literally red, yellow, white or black -- in the basic colour wheel sense). They won't have any problem believing that Jesus loves muppets.

 

On the other hand, if we explain that it's about "races" we are teaching them something about race... And that whole idea is difficult and nuanced, and kids won't get it very well. So, if we do explain, the kids will absolutely come out of that conversation thinking that race matters, wondering which category all their peers fit into, and believing that Jesus thinks it's a good thing to call our First Nations people "red" and anyone from Asia "yellow" -- because He loves them.

 

It's a fair start at making them conscious of and concerned about "races", and it has strong potential to make them at least sound racist.

 

Plus, it's not a religious teaching, and it's not edifying, and it's not age-appropriate or comprehensible anyhow. As you said, lets fry the bigger fish instead.

 

Let's not do them that kind of disservice. There are lots of good sundayschool songs, there's no point including this one.

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Small children singing it for Sunday school is racist? If the original intent wasn't and the current intent isn't then why make hay? There are so many bigger fish to fry. It might be worth discussion with an older child but that's about it.

 

For Native Americans, being referred to as  any variation of "red-skinned" is racist. It's a disparaging term that begin in reference to killing NAs for a bounty. 

 

Basically, if you wouldn't want your kids to sing a song about how Jesus loves crackers and white trash, it's not really appropriate to sing a song about "red" kids or "yellow" kids. Just because it's an old traditional song doesn't mean it gets a pass.

 

If you google, there are some lovely alternatives for that line that aren't based on skin color.

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If you wouldn't sing a song about Jesus loving colored children, you shouldn't sing about him loving red or yellow ones. It is no different.

The entire purpose of the song is to point out that there is NO difference among people with respect to ethnicity (hence the 'all the children of the world', they're equally precious in His sight. That's a lesson we reinforce.

 

If adults want to read into it and make it an issue that's their problem. We are fine with it.

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The entire purpose of the song is to point out that there is NO difference among people with respect to ethnicity (hence the 'all the children of the world', they're equally precious in His sight. That's a lesson we reinforce.

 

If adults want to read into it and make it an issue that's their problem. We are fine with it.

 

I think all of us understand the intent. 

 

The problem is that the words chosen are not positive words so the intent is lost in the actual execution. 

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It was a sweet song in its day.  But it's dated.  I wouldn't teach it to children today.

 

I don't think original intent matters a whit. When I read "Little House in the Big Woods" to my kids, I skip the part where Pa sings a jaunty tune about darkeys.  Because of course I do. I don't trash the book as junk, I take the good and edit.  I can't imagine thinking it's OK to teach my (white) kids it's fun to sing about the antics of those silly darkeys.  I mean c'mon. 

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The entire purpose of the song is to point out that there is NO difference among people with respect to ethnicity (hence the 'all the children of the world', they're equally precious in His sight. That's a lesson we reinforce.

 

If adults want to read into it and make it an issue that's their problem. We are fine with it.

 

It's always been an issue, but until somewhat recently many people have been either too racist or too ignorant about other cultures to care. Trying to have empathy for people outside our own peer groups is a relatively new thing for humanity, sadly.

 

It's supposed to be a song about Jesus's love. If it's hurtful to some people, doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose?  

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It was a sweet song in its day. But it's dated. I wouldn't teach it to children today.

 

I don't think original intent matters a whit. When I read "Little House in the Big Woods" to my kids, I skip the part where Pa sings a jaunty tune about darkeys. Because of course I do. I don't trash the book as junk, I take the good and edit. I can't imagine thinking it's OK to teach my (white) kids it's fun to sing about the antics of those silly darkeys. I mean c'mon.

And yet somehow my kids can read the same book, no edits, and still not think it's fun to sing songs about 'those silly darkeys'.

 

Teach your kids what you want, we do likewise. I'm not spending mental energy on this more than we already have in teaching the kids about context and proper views of others who may seem different than us.

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It was a sweet song in its day. But it's dated. I wouldn't teach it to children today.

 

I don't think original intent matters a whit. When I read "Little House in the Big Woods" to my kids, I skip the part where Pa sings a jaunty tune about darkeys. Because of course I do. I don't trash the book as junk, I take the good and edit. I can't imagine thinking it's OK to teach my (white) kids it's fun to sing about the antics of those silly darkeys. I mean c'mon.

Doesn't this kind of sanitize history? Like this stuff never happened? Like white people never sang these songs and thought of themselves as superior? And, the lesson would be we shouldn't sing songs like that any more because we don't believe that to be true. But to censor it seems odd. Like censoring that racism really was a thing. The whole point is that you teach them it isn't fun, and it turns out it was wrong to sing that, but a lot of people back then didn't think so.

 

Which is also totally different than the song issue from the OP. I don't think it's respectful of the intent of the song to sing it as written anymore, since the groups addressed find the terms offensive. But the intent was that Jesus doesn't just love white people and all of us are equal. Which is different than a folk tune that Pa sang which intended to be about superior white culture, and is a historical lesson.

 

So, I guess I think intent does matter, as does the context of what one is trying to accomplish (teach history vs find an inclusive Sunday school song)

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The entire purpose of the song is to point out that there is NO difference among people with respect to ethnicity (hence the 'all the children of the world', they're equally precious in His sight. That's a lesson we reinforce.

 

If adults want to read into it and make it an issue that's their problem. We are fine with it.

1. I agree that the entire purpose of the song is to point out that there is no difference in ethnicity when it comes to Jesus' love for all the children of the world.

 

2. It uses derogatory racial terms to try to accomplish that purpose.

 

3. Therefore it is impossible for the song to accomplish that purpose.

 

If you live in an area of the world where small children would already know that "red" and "yellow" are references to ethnic groups -- how on earth did they learn that??? Do their parents use those terms? Their preschool teachers? TV news reporters? I don't get it.

 

Nobody is "reading into" the song: the simple truth is that well-raised kids won't even understand it. And being taught what it means will make them worse off than when they walked in all-unaware that there are derogatory colour terms for some of their friends and neighbours.

 

You can't reinforce the supposed lesson of the song without re-creating components of the problem the song was designed to solve. It's a loose-loose proposition.

 

Would you think it a good idea to teach them to sing that Jesus loves (gratuitous racist words that don't belong in print) too? Because He does! But it doesn't benefit kids to learn those words just so they can remember all the ways that Jesus' love is unconditional. It doesn't benefit them to think in those terms at all.

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Yes, the song is *very* dated. 

 

I consider it racist *in today's society*. 

 

Black and white are (mostly) neutral terms, but red and yellow?  No way. 

 

I also don't like the (implied) idea that everyone has to fit into this little box. 

 

When I taught Sunday School, I changed the line to "All of them He made just right, All are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world."

 

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Doesn't this kind of sanitize history? Like this stuff never happened? Like white people never sang these songs and thought of themselves as superior? And, the lesson would be we shouldn't sing songs like that any more because we don't believe that to be true. But to censor it seems odd. Like censoring that racism really was a thing. The whole point is that you teach them it isn't fun, and it turns out it was wrong to sing that, but a lot of people back then didn't think so.

 

Which is also totally different than the song issue from the OP. I don't think it's respectful of the intent of the song to sing it as written anymore, since the groups addressed find the terms offensive. But the intent was that Jesus doesn't just love white people and all of us are equal. Which is different than a folk tune that Pa sang which intended to be about superior white culture, and is a historical lesson.

 

So, I guess I think intent does matter, as does the context of what one is trying to accomplish (teach history vs find an inclusive Sunday school song)

 

Skipping over a section of a book because young children wouldn't understand the historical context is different from, say, going around to all the copies of the book and having that section physically removed, or banning the book altogether. The latter examples would be censorship; the former is common sense.

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Skipping over a section of a book because young children wouldn't understand the historical context is different from, say, going around to all the copies of the book and having that section physically removed, or banning the book altogether. The latter examples would be censorship; the former is common sense.

Ah, maybe my kids were just precocious. We didn't skip it, talked about why it was wrong, etc. Or, I guess I just lack common sense!

 

ETA: obviously I was using the term censor to mean censor for my own kids, not in the broader sense. Or at least I thought it was "common sense" that's what I was speaking of.

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Also, anyone imaging teaching small children to sing and understand the song is clearly NOT imaging explaining it to an actual 'red' or 'yellow' child -- OR explaining to his/her 'red' or 'yellow' parents why you taught them those terms.

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Small children who think in concrete terms will most likely believe the song is about muppets (because no real people are literally red, yellow, white or black -- in the basic colour wheel sense). They won't have any problem believing that Jesus loves muppets.

 

 

Dude, I think I need songs about Jesus loving the Muppets.

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I was actually recently wondering the same thing. I was taught as a child that yellow was Asian and red was Native American. Before then, I just thought it was colors, like muppets can be purple, orange, blue, etc. I thought, as a child, that the message was, "Jesus loves you no matter what you look like."

 

As an adult, it definitely makes me uncomfortable. The message is fine, Jesus loves all races. But the wording isn't appropriate in today's world.

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Ah, maybe my kids were just precocious. We didn't skip it, talked about why it was wrong, etc. Or, I guess I just lack common sense!

 

ETA: obviously I was using the term censor to mean censor for my own kids, not in the broader sense. Or at least I thought it was "common sense" that's what I was speaking of.

 

Sorry. But I really don't think young children hearing characters they love refer to people by racist slurs is a great idea when they don't yet have the experience to understand why those kinds of things are so hurtful. They might superficially understand that those words are mean, but so is "jerk" or "poopy-head" if you're a little kid. I wouldn't ever take the risk that my kid might get mad and call someone a racist name because they don't yet understand degrees of awfulness. 

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Doesn't this kind of sanitize history? Like this stuff never happened? Like white people never sang these songs and thought of themselves as superior? And, the lesson would be we shouldn't sing songs like that any more because we don't believe that to be true. But to censor it seems odd. Like censoring that racism really was a thing. The whole point is that you teach them it isn't fun, and it turns out it was wrong to sing that, but a lot of people back then didn't think so.

 

Which is also totally different than the song issue from the OP. I don't think it's respectful of the intent of the song to sing it as written anymore, since the groups addressed find the terms offensive. But the intent was that Jesus doesn't just love white people and all of us are equal. Which is different than a folk tune that Pa sang which intended to be about superior white culture, and is a historical lesson.

 

So, I guess I think intent does matter, as does the context of what one is trying to accomplish (teach history vs find an inclusive Sunday school song)

 

My kids are 5 and 8.  I'll happily talk about historical context when they're a bit older.  For now, we skip.

I don't think calling black people "darkeys" and calling people "red" and "yellow" is really different.  No one intended to be offensive. 

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And yet somehow my kids can read the same book, no edits, and still not think it's fun to sing songs about 'those silly darkeys'.

 

Teach your kids what you want, we do likewise. I'm not spending mental energy on this more than we already have in teaching the kids about context and proper views of others who may seem different than us.

 

Your kids are older than mine. ( My 8 year old is developmentally delayed about 1.5 years.)  I don't intend to remove sections of that book, or other potentially upsetting older books, when they are older, and when we've talked about the what a "settler" really is.

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Also, anyone imaging teaching small children to sing and understand the song is clearly NOT imaging explaining it to an actual 'red' or 'yellow' child -- OR explaining to his/her 'red' or 'yellow' parents why you taught them those terms.

ZING!

 

Very true.

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It was a sweet song in its day.  But it's dated.  I wouldn't teach it to children today.

 

I don't think original intent matters a whit. When I read "Little House in the Big Woods" to my kids, I skip the part where Pa sings a jaunty tune about darkeys.  Because of course I do. I don't trash the book as junk, I take the good and edit.  I can't imagine thinking it's OK to teach my (white) kids it's fun to sing about the antics of those silly darkeys.  I mean c'mon. 

 

I agree. I am kind of in the "let go of the sentimental attachment to it" category. It was written over 100 years ago when the races were referred to in broad, simplistic "color" terms, that are not only inappropriate today, but I'd think, confusing. Would I hold the protest sign outside the church over it, no. So it's not "racist" in big scheme of things, but I would ask what's the attachment. There are all kinds of great contemporary songs that convey the same meaning in a much more appropriate way, and there are wonderful (even refreshing) variations. 

 

I was actually recently wondering the same thing. I was taught as a child that yellow was Asian and red was Native American. Before then, I just thought it was colors, like muppets can be purple, orange, blue, etc. I thought, as a child, that the message was, "Jesus loves you no matter what you look like."

 

As an adult, it definitely makes me uncomfortable. The message is fine, Jesus loves all races. But the wording isn't appropriate in today's world.

Has anyone looked up the history of the song? I just did. It's an interesting history, and a tad unsettling. The original tune came out of the Civil War era, and the original lyrics attached to that tune were "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys are Marching" (talk about the American tendency to wrap up God and war all in the same cloth) by a man who went on to write several little ditties about war ("Just Before the Battle, Mother" and "The First Gun is Fired." The tune was then used and applied to "Jesus Loves the Little Children" - no direct connection, but just makes for a bit of a bizarre backstory. The song was probably considered radical in its time, as I imagine white supremacy made it hard for many a good churchgoer to really truly believe Jesus REALLY loved all the little children of the world -- including those ones you're sending to internment camps, and those ones that can drink from the same water fountain as you? But until you're teaching a history lesson, it's probably just a strange song choice for contemporary congregations. 

 

My kids are 5 and 8.  I'll happily talk about historical context when they're a bit older.  For now, we skip.

I don't think calling black people "darkeys" and calling people "red" and "yellow" is really different.  No one intended to be offensive. 

Oh, I think people intended offense -- I mean, they set up an entire legal system of "offense." There were plenty of signals that the people being called those names probably didn't like them (but just didn't say anything because they liked living). I'm in the camp of "oh, people knew" (somewhere in their hearts they knew). I get what you are saying, when it's considered acceptable, deep thought about what you're really saying is easy to avoid. Just don't want to let folks off so easy on the "they didn't know what they were doing" line of thinking. 

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My kids are 5 and 8. I'll happily talk about historical context when they're a bit older. For now, we skip.

I don't think calling black people "darkeys" and calling people "red" and "yellow" is really different. No one intended to be offensive.

No, it's not different in sentiment. My point was the context is vastly different today. Singing that song today in churchwould be the opposite of teaching the lesson the song was trying to teach. However, the song Pa sings is a history lesson in and of itself and an opportunity for discussion, not that we'd be all singing it as a fun folk song.

 

I just can't imagine having it be a tough conversation at those ages. Obviously I don't take issue with parents teaching different things at different ages. It just seems easier to me to convey the basic ideas when they are young and then go deeper as they get older and can understand more. I guess I take for granted that we're very open with the kids about why and how it was bad to use that word and sing that song. But I guess we're the oddballs in that sense. Do they understand the broader implications and the true horrors of racism? No, but it never occurred to me to skip that part of the book in favor of them thinking everything was hunky dory. There are so many issues I can think of like this, where I'd rather them get the story bit by bit as it comes up rather than all at once. We talk about all sorts of issues and people like WWII and Hitler, the Civil War, Harriet Tubman recently came up because of the $20...etc. We're just very open about all of it, and I figured that was normal these days. Besides, my oldest (who is also 8) has read the book himself (and other information that has led to questions on this topic) so I'd rather talk to him about it than have him read it with no adult guidance on what it means.

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Sorry. But I really don't think young children hearing characters they love refer to people by racist slurs is a great idea when they don't yet have the experience to understand why those kinds of things are so hurtful. They might superficially understand that those words are mean, but so is "jerk" or "poopy-head" if you're a little kid. I wouldn't ever take the risk that my kid might get mad and call someone a racist name because they don't yet understand degrees of awfulness.

That's fine, we just teach those issues differently as we come across them. I haven't been able to prevent my kids from hearing some pretty...unsavory...name calling or language while out and about in various places, and for me, it's easier to deal with it and discuss it at home with a book we're all reading together and I have plenty of time and privacy to discuss things gently and patiently... rather than coming across the concept of racial slurs for the first time out in public. I actually find good literature an excellent vehicle for gently introducing my kids to otherwise complicated issues. They aren't scarred by learning that Pa isn't perfect or even close. I mean, they recognized that some of the stuff he does puts the family in a bad spot.

 

Just my philosophy, doesn't have to be yours, but I'm doing the best I can at applying common sense to a tough topic, much like most of us, I imagine.

 

ETA: I understand your point, as my kids have repeated some stuff about reproduction (which we are also very open and matter-of-fact about when questions arise) at inopportune times and I've been very embarrassed, so I get the concern about them repeating things without understanding. I guess that since I know I've been with them when we've all heard the n-word or something like that, my point is that I (sadly) can't shelter them 100% from racial slurs. It's easier for me to see it as a lesson in a beloved book than it is on the spur of the moment in public where I get "Mom, what does bleep mean?" "But why not now?" "Why is it not a good word?" "Why not noooow?"

 

But that just might be my kids.

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I remember, growing up, we tended to change the order of the 3rd line around, even getting silly as long as we could figure out rhyming words for the 4th line.

 

"Pink and purple, red and blue

Jesus loves me better than you"

 

etc.

:lol:  :lol:  :lol: I'd have got my hide tanned for that!

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No, it's not different in sentiment. My point was the context is vastly different today. Singing that song today in churchwould be the opposite of teaching the lesson the song was trying to teach. However, the song Pa sings is a history lesson in and of itself and an opportunity for discussion, not that we'd be all singing it as a fun folk song.

 

I just can't imagine having it be a tough conversation at those ages. Obviously I don't take issue with parents teaching different things at different ages. It just seems easier to me to convey the basic ideas when they are young and then go deeper as they get older and can understand more. I guess I take for granted that we're very open with the kids about why and how it was bad to use that word and sing that song. But I guess we're the oddballs in that sense. Do they understand the broader implications and the true horrors of racism? No, but it never occurred to me to skip that part of the book in favor of them thinking everything was hunky dory. There are so many issues I can think of like this, where I'd rather them get the story bit by bit as it comes up rather than all at once. We talk about all sorts of issues and people like WWII and Hitler, the Civil War, Harriet Tubman recently came up because of the $20...etc. We're just very open about all of it, and I figured that was normal these days. Besides, my oldest (who is also 8) has read the book himself (and other information that has led to questions on this topic) so I'd rather talk to him about it than have him read it with no adult guidance on what it means.

Talking about issues is fine. It gets tricky when the hero of a story is the one conveying the troubling message. 'People used to have slaves and that's terrible ': ok. 'Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence but was a slave owner and that's very troubling for a number of reasons ' : ok z A novel written from Jefferson's POV, written at a child's level, where he has pleasant and affectionate interactions with slaves and that's all the book says on the topic? That's not a book I'd be comfortable reading to a room full of young kids who aren't white - and their parents. So I'd probably skip it with my own kid at 5 too.

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Yeah, I just see it as a totally different interaction if I'm able to talk my kid through it in our home than if it's a group situation where I don't know everyone's background. One of the great things about homeschooling for us at least is that if there's something in a book like that I can deal with it at home. :)

 

On the other hand, I think there are inadequate(?), inappropriate(?) ways of portraying slavery where I fundamentally disagree with the lesson the book tries to teach, and in those cases we just don't read them. In those cases I feel like it's historical inaccuracy, which is not really what I was thinking of in the Little House books.

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I thought the colors were metaphorical for the longest time. "White" people are not white, etc. like when you see rainbow stick figures standing around the world.

 

Was the person who wrote it a racist? I doubt it.

 

Were the lyrics racist when it came out? No.

 

Does it use terms that are now considered racist (yellow, red)? Yes.

 

I would explain it in metaphorical terms. "That's how people from different continents used to be described. Of course we don't focus so much on color now. We look at the whole person. But it rhymed."

 

I am very anti-racism and anti-stereotype but this is an area where you have a teaching opportunity and taken metaphorically it is not offensive.

 

FWIW I hate the Redskins as a mascot. I do not believe this song similarly objectifies people. I am not a Christian, either.

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I teach the cradle roll class at our church, and we sing this song to our little ones, but we have changed it to "every color, dark or light" instead of "red and yellow, black and white." I'm not offended by the original version, but I do like the changed version.

 

Lana

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I remember, growing up, we tended to change the order of the 3rd line around, even getting silly as long as we could figure out rhyming words for the 4th line.

 

"Pink and purple, red and blue

Jesus loves me better than you"

 

etc.

We sang, "Pink and purple, blue and green, strangest kids you've ever seen."

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Doesn't this kind of sanitize history? Like this stuff never happened? Like white people never sang these songs and thought of themselves as superior? And, the lesson would be we shouldn't sing songs like that any more because we don't believe that to be true. But to censor it seems odd. Like censoring that racism really was a thing. The whole point is that you teach them it isn't fun, and it turns out it was wrong to sing that, but a lot of people back then didn't think so.

 

Which is also totally different than the song issue from the OP. I don't think it's respectful of the intent of the song to sing it as written anymore, since the groups addressed find the terms offensive. But the intent was that Jesus doesn't just love white people and all of us are equal. Which is different than a folk tune that Pa sang which intended to be about superior white culture, and is a historical lesson.

 

So, I guess I think intent does matter, as does the context of what one is trying to accomplish (teach history vs find an inclusive Sunday school song)

It really depends on the child's age and disposition. I read that to my younger son at 4-5 as a bedtime story. We skipped that and the spanking stories. Why? Not bedtime conversation for an anxious 5 year old. OTOH when my older son read them at almost 8, we discussed the moral issues and the values we don't share. Know your kids. I certainly couldn't read that without providing some historical context. Some kids are ready to discuss that context. Other kids are just ready to hear about a nice Christmas visit and the descriptions of all they had to store for winter before they doze off into slumber land.

 

We teach a lot about racial history and present racial issues in this country. So I don't buy that so e editing for a young kid means that I am sanitizing history in general or that my kids will end up oblivious racial issues. They come from a family where most of their cousins aren't white so it's not like they think this country is especially great when it comes to the legacy of racism.

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