The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #90399   Message #1947451
Posted By: Azizi
25-Jan-07 - 07:00 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Pick a Bale of Cotton
Subject: RE: Origins: Pick a Bale of Cotton
As some people have indicated, "Pick A Bale Of Cotton" was probably written after US slavery was abolished. Still, this song is definitely associated with African American slavery.

Some Black people still don't want to acknowledge that fact that our ancestors sung songs other than field hollers and spirituals during slavery. The view is that to draw attention to the social songs and social dances that enslaved African Americans did would be to give credence to the "slavery wasn't so bad/happy darky" viewpoint.

My position is that social songs and dances, as well as field hollers & spirituals helped Black people to survive the horrors of enslavement, and the difficulties that free and freed Black people encountered from the 17th-mid 19th century USA. Therefore for aesthetic & historical reasons, Black American social songs & dances of those centuries are worthy of study.

Rightly or wrongly, the fact of the matter is that "Pick A Bale Of Cotton" has become a symbol song for "the happy darkies" stereotype.

I won't sing that song. And I won't teach "Pick A Bale Of Cotton" to children as a fun & games singalong.

I won't sing "Pick A Bale Of Cotton" and other songs that I consider to be demeaning of Black people and/or or ridiculing and dismissive of Black pain & suffering regardless of whether these songs were written and/or popularized by Black people, White people, or Martians from out of space. I'm thinking of song like "Old Black Joe" and "Why Was I Born Black & Blue" etc etc etc.

What other people do is their decision, though I can voice {and am voicing} my objections to those decisions, just as people can voice their objections to what I say and do or the manner by which I say and do whatever.