By V4 Agency
Although the professor used to teach these songs, she has become aware of their racist past, so she’s decided to take them out from her repertoire. In an article, she apologises for her past practices and writes that she has made the difficult decision and acknowledged her own ignorance.
Kate Pollard, a professor of music at Nevada University, has recently published an article in which she writes about her life and eye-opening experiences in the tone of martyrdom. She wrote that when she began her career as a teacher, she was not versed in anti-racist ideology, so she taught songs which are now considered inappropriate.
According to Ms Pollard, when she began teaching at US high school in the 90s, she had many songs in her repertoire whose backgroud she was not aware of, and her students did not ask about them, either. By the mid-2000s, however, she started to delve into what she calls “culturally relevant pedagogy,” and learnt about the many problems with the songs.
She says she learned that many of the songs she had taught as a middle school educator, and even in college, were inappropriate and even potentially harmful to certain peoples. One such song is “Jingle Bells”, which Pollard considers problematic because she read that “slave owners used to put bells on slaves to keep track of them, which the jingle bells are referencing.”
Similarly, the songs “Shortnin’ Bread” and “Polly Wolly Doodle” and Camptown Races are also racist, as they too belong to the blackface culture. Songs like Five Little Monkeys and Baa Baa Black Sheep are also inappropriate, because they degrade black Americans, who have been called and referred to as monkeys.
The professor didn’t know, nor she ever thought about the fact that some of her favourite songs included the misrepresentation of indigenous native American and Canadian cultures, and wrongly portrayed black Americans.
In her opinion piece, Kate Pollard obviously strives to succumb to leftist culture. She says that she has made the difficult decision to acknowledge her ignorance and, as a result, will change the repertoire she uses and passes on to other music educators.
She says she will not keep songs that many educators are bent on preserving and attributing historical value to, while the songs degrade certain groups. She would rather promote songs that are inclusive. However, she would not use these songs as a vehicle to address racism because, in her view, that could make her students of colour feel ill at ease.
The lecturer argues that music educators across the world are realising that many of the childhood songs in American culture have a racist past. This is not necessarily new, she says, adding however, that with increasing attention paid to race, it is difficult to ignore the availability of context and historical background of many songs.
Concluding her writing, Kate Pollard promises to continue to examine her own personal biases and offers an apology: “I apologize to my students to whom I taught these songs and even more, I apologize to those who quietly knew these things about the songs I taught, but never felt comfortable speaking up. I can do better. I will continue to do better.”