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Swing Low Sweet Chariot

DigiTrad:
GOOD NEWS
GOOD NEWS, DE CHARIOT'S COMIN'
SWING LOW SWEET CHARIOT


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures (28)
Lyr Req: 'Chariots of Fire' - a Christian song (27)
(origins) Origins: Good News - Chariot's Comin' (12)
(origins) Lyr Add: 'Chariot' Spirituals (42)
BS: Swing Low Sweet Chariot (38)
(origins) Origins: Swing Low Sweet Chariot (rugby) (11)
Swing low sweet chariot 24/7 (rugby) (26)
Artist/Lyr Req: Round & round like a chariot wheel (2)
Lyr Req: The Trumpet - The Chariot (3)


Senoufou 19 Jun 20 - 08:00 AM
GUEST 19 Jun 20 - 08:32 AM
Steve Gardham 19 Jun 20 - 08:34 AM
GUEST 19 Jun 20 - 08:36 AM
Senoufou 19 Jun 20 - 08:37 AM
Rain Dog 19 Jun 20 - 08:40 AM
Jeri 19 Jun 20 - 09:06 AM
Senoufou 19 Jun 20 - 09:10 AM
Bonzo3legs 19 Jun 20 - 04:42 PM
RTim 19 Jun 20 - 04:52 PM
Doug Chadwick 19 Jun 20 - 05:19 PM
Senoufou 19 Jun 20 - 05:28 PM
GUEST 19 Jun 20 - 05:37 PM
GUEST 19 Jun 20 - 05:39 PM
punkfolkrocker 19 Jun 20 - 05:44 PM
Lighter 20 Jun 20 - 06:55 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 20 Jun 20 - 08:30 AM
Steve Gardham 20 Jun 20 - 09:46 AM
Bonzo3legs 20 Jun 20 - 09:58 AM
Senoufou 20 Jun 20 - 11:20 AM
Senoufou 20 Jun 20 - 03:16 PM
punkfolkrocker 20 Jun 20 - 03:41 PM
Steve Gardham 20 Jun 20 - 04:47 PM
Steve Gardham 20 Jun 20 - 05:05 PM
GUEST,kenny 20 Jun 20 - 05:18 PM
Senoufou 20 Jun 20 - 05:50 PM
Bonzo3legs 20 Jun 20 - 07:06 PM
GUEST 20 Jun 20 - 07:58 PM
cnd 20 Jun 20 - 11:52 PM
cnd 21 Jun 20 - 12:14 AM
Hagman 21 Jun 20 - 12:51 AM
Manitas_at_home 21 Jun 20 - 01:38 AM
Joe Offer 21 Jun 20 - 02:07 AM
Manitas_at_home 21 Jun 20 - 03:17 AM
Manitas_at_home 21 Jun 20 - 03:23 AM
Joe Offer 21 Jun 20 - 03:27 AM
punkfolkrocker 21 Jun 20 - 03:28 AM
Allan Conn 21 Jun 20 - 03:48 AM
Nigel Parsons 21 Jun 20 - 05:08 AM
Nigel Parsons 21 Jun 20 - 05:23 AM
Johnny J 21 Jun 20 - 05:33 AM
Joe Offer 21 Jun 20 - 11:50 AM
Senoufou 21 Jun 20 - 12:56 PM
Doug Chadwick 21 Jun 20 - 03:08 PM
Bonzo3legs 21 Jun 20 - 03:22 PM
Senoufou 21 Jun 20 - 03:54 PM
Bonzo3legs 21 Jun 20 - 04:14 PM
Senoufou 21 Jun 20 - 05:33 PM
Joe Offer 21 Jun 20 - 06:28 PM
Jeri 21 Jun 20 - 06:32 PM
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Subject: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Senoufou
Date: 19 Jun 20 - 08:00 AM

I read this morning that the RFU (Rugby Football Union) are considering banning this song because it has slavery origins.
Twickenham has always resounded to this 'anthem' (complete with rather rude but very funny actions!) and I feel a bit sad that it might be forbidden. I remember bellowing it out at Murrayfield in Edinburgh as a very young student cheering on the Scottish team.
Anyone have a view about this?


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jun 20 - 08:32 AM

First they came for the statues.....................


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Jun 20 - 08:34 AM

Does it really have connections with slavery? I've always just thought of it as a gospel song, before it became a sporting anthem and a 'rugby song' with actions. Trad songs constantly change meaning and usage. I can't see anything offensive in the actual text. If this goes then you English are gonna have your Child Ballad corpus cut down drastically!


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jun 20 - 08:36 AM

The Guardian derived its original funding from slavery. Should we have that banned as well?
Where does it end?


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Senoufou
Date: 19 Jun 20 - 08:37 AM

As a pupil in the fifties, we were taught what were unashamedly called 'negro spirituals' by our teacher at the piano. We really liked them and enjoyed singing these old songs. Not PC at all nowadays though :(
I taught my black African husband 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' with the rude actions and he doubled up with laughter!


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Rain Dog
Date: 19 Jun 20 - 08:40 AM

They are 'reviewing' the use of the song.

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot review


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Jeri
Date: 19 Jun 20 - 09:06 AM

So slave owners and people who perpetuated slavery were bad,
so SLAVES were bad?

I have a 78 record of the Fisk Jubilee Singers doing this song in full-on "slave" dialect. I find dialect horrible, but I can imagine the practices of this, with all of these young black college guys with their educated voices. "No, Trevor, it's not "coming for to", it's "comin' fo' ta!" Where were you reaised? In a mansion or something?

If dialect is the issue, lose the dialect. Please!


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Senoufou
Date: 19 Jun 20 - 09:10 AM

Oh dear Jeri, I'm afraid we were taught to sing using what we fondly imagined was a black 'slave' accent, which we felt gave the song atmosphere and authenticity. No racism was intended or felt. But I do understand how it might offend people nowadays.
How times have changed, and are still changing!


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 19 Jun 20 - 04:42 PM

Thing is - there is no right to be "offended" as the pc brigade now expanded by all manner of hangers-on seem to think!


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: RTim
Date: 19 Jun 20 - 04:52 PM

I see NOTHING Racist in the words of Swing Low.....It was written by a Slave...but so what...??

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 19 Jun 20 - 05:19 PM

... the RFU (Rugby Football Union) are considering banning this song ...

Twickenham has a capacity of 82,000. If in excess of 40,000 burly England rugby fans decide to sing it, how is the RFU going to stop them?

DC


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Senoufou
Date: 19 Jun 20 - 05:28 PM

I agree Tim Radford, I can't find anything racist in the words.
And it would be most interesting to watch the ensuing fracas if officials tried to shut up half a stadium of supporters in full voice!

Obviously, I would always try to avoid offending any black people, but as I'm married to one and he has no objection whatsoever to this song, I can see no reason to ban the blooming thing.


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jun 20 - 05:37 PM

https://youtu.be/TBLCeKVmu4c (Ladysmith Black Mambazo)


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jun 20 - 05:39 PM

https://youtu.be/GSb273c9tm4 (Robeson)


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 19 Jun 20 - 05:44 PM

It's too easy for old reactionaries to blame PC gone mad woke for everything.

But a lot of the time, it's decidedly un PC people and institutions running scared of potentially bad PR,
who kneejerk over-react into preemptively banning mildly contentious things,
that most reasonable folks would still be ok with...


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Lighter
Date: 20 Jun 20 - 06:55 AM

Not taking sides here, but isn't the fundamental objection that this is a serious religious song created by enslaved black people, and that rugger fans (especially whites) have long degraded it with crudely humorous gestures?


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 20 Jun 20 - 08:30 AM

The newspaper report I read attributed it to a complaint by an African-American academic, on the grounds of 'cultural appropriation'.

I have some difficulty with the concept of cultural appropriation - on the one hand I can see where it comes from, on the other hand the sharing of ideas between cultures is how humanity has advanced. The idea that music, food, costume or anything else is the sole property of any one race or culture makes me uncomfortable. However it is a difficult area.

This is particularly true of music, which has no physical form and exists mainly as an idea, occasionally rendered as sound. Once a song is released into the wild, the original composer has very little control over it, even where copyright exists, and none at all once it is in the public domain.

The past is a murky place, and no doubt the roots of a lot of what we take for granted today could be criticised on one ground or another. I have recently received a copy of a paper which shows that "Jingle Bells" was part of the minstrelsy repertoire. Should we now drop that?

"Sweet chariot" is in no way racist. It happens to have been written by a black man who was a slave, but I suspect very few people who hear or sing it are aware of that. The very term "negro spiritual" seems to have vanished. There are more important issues, examples of real racism, which this serves only to distract from and even to undermine.


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jun 20 - 09:46 AM

As usual I have to agree with Howard. All the white blues singers out of the window. About two thirds of the Child corpus only available to the Scots. Rock and Roll, isn't that American? That's the British pop scene down the Swannee then. Second thoughts, what a good idea! All those pseudo Amercian accents vanish in a flash!


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 20 Jun 20 - 09:58 AM

What the fuck is "cultural appropriation" when it's out????? Have these people got nothing else to do - buy some components and build a fuzz box or something??? - voice goes up at the end of the sentence!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Senoufou
Date: 20 Jun 20 - 11:20 AM

If we're banned from 'cultural appropriation' we can only sing/perform songs from our own background. I'm half Irish and half Scots, but born in London. What exactly may I sing? Certainly not Auld Lang Syne, except with the Scottish bit of me. And Cockney songs are forbidden unless I channel the London bit. 'Molly Malone'? Nah. Only if I'm in Irish mode.
This subject has been flogged to death on Mudcat, but blacking-up for Border Morris has been given the PC red card. Husband and I haunt the Morris Pottie Festival in Sheringham every year, he in his brightly-coloured African outfit. We asked for photos with one or two Border Morris sides, and they were so happy to oblige. But one lady whispered to my husband, "We aren't mocking black people you know. I do hope you aren't offended by our black faces?" He burst out laughing, hugged her and denied any offence. Later he told me he thought they were all bonkers!


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Senoufou
Date: 20 Jun 20 - 03:16 PM

I also think, if we're being silly, that the New Zealand rugby team's haka could be labelled 'cultural appropriation' too. After all, they're not Maoris are they?


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 20 Jun 20 - 03:41 PM

The perennial problem with any popular progressive movements for positive change in society,
is that they harbour disproportionately loud and persuasive voices,
who push for over zealous demands,
that inevitably undermine the general public's perception
of the validity of their causes...

They play right into the hands of reactionary opposition,
who will stereotype and dismiss the entire movement;
associating and identifying the whole cause with that divisive minority of high profile extremists...

We know the right do it,
the reactionaries know we know they do it..

But that's always the the game played as usual in conservative establishment media...

All it takes is a trumped up symbolic conflict over a cultural triviality like a song,
to distract from and suppress positive progress...


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jun 20 - 04:47 PM

Good point pfr.


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jun 20 - 05:05 PM

Sen
Some of them are, and one presumes it is the Maori element in the team who have instituted this ritual. At one point in the 80s our local RL team had 3 lads of Maori extraction playing for us, and bloody good they were.


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: GUEST,kenny
Date: 20 Jun 20 - 05:18 PM

Ban this ?

https://youtu.be/4-psz9oelH8 ("The "Geordie Haka" is going viral")


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Senoufou
Date: 20 Jun 20 - 05:50 PM

I know Steve, and you're right. I was putting forward a possible viewpoint of these daft objectors. They'd probably say that if there were any non-Maoris in the NZ team, the haka should not be allowed to be performed, as the non-Maoris would be 'appropriating their culture'
.
'Cultural appropriation' could be seen almost anywhere. When I visit in West Africa, I wear a 'pagne' (wrap-around long cotton skirt) borrowed from one of my sisters-in-law. I do this to protect my legs from the sun and to be decent (legs aren't on show there!) But the PC brigade could say I'm out of order wearing African clothes while not being African.
They're just casting around for anything to get het up about, as pfr says.
I think this obsessive fad will pass in time.


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 20 Jun 20 - 07:06 PM

I hope it does and soon.


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Jun 20 - 07:58 PM

"isn't the fundamental objection that this is a serious religious song created by enslaved black people"

And the proof that this is "serious religious song created by enslaved black people" IS WHAT?


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: cnd
Date: 20 Jun 20 - 11:52 PM

GUEST, you can't be serious, right? That's an extraordinarily easily verifiable question.

https://www.tulsaworld.com/homepagelatest/michael-overall-how-an-oklahoma-slave-came-to-write-one/article_89101718-6427-5b56-bcb0-a17f798589be.html


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: cnd
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 12:14 AM

I don't think it takes much mental fortitude to understand how the song is about slavery; it was written by a slave, it was sung by slaves (and former slaves). While the song never says the word "slave," it's difficult for me to imagine that the subject wasn't prescient on the minds of every slave and ex-slave who sang it, hoping to find a freer life after death through salvation in Heaven.

That being said, I personally can't see a good reason why it can't also be sung at a rugby match. It's not glorifying slavery--it's hoping for its end. Unless there's some detail in the way they sing it, or their motivations for singing it, that I'm missing, to me it's not of much consequence.


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Hagman
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 12:51 AM

Better archive this thread before Prince Harry hears about it...

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8443231/Prince-Harry-backs-ban-Swing-Low-Sweet-Chariot.html


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 01:38 AM

There's cultural appropriation and then there is culture that is shared with others. Once Tai Chi was not to be shared with people outside of your village let alone with foreigners and now it is more or less an export. The All Blacks' (after their kit) haka is something the team is trained to do and binds the team together. This is cultural sharing. https://www.allblacks.com/the-haka/


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 02:07 AM

I've always thought that "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" was one of the best of the "Negro Spirituals." I have to say that I was appalled when I first heard it as a rugby song. I see we have a cowardly anonymous troll above who objects to actions to control this, but somehow it has always seemed wrong to turn this lovely spiritual into a rugby song. And I see that nobody has posted a rugby song version of "Swing Low." Can somebody find one, so everybody can see what the issue is?
-Joe-

Here's an interesting video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epb04arDa44


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 03:17 AM

I don't know about actions to control the use as a rugby song. In recent years the rugby authorities have endorsed it as a team anthem but that was just following the fans' use. They will probably stop endorsing it and try to introduce something else (Father Abraham? Climbing Up the Sunshine Mountain?) ,as the official anthem but I suspect the fans will just carry on singing Swing Low for years to come.


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 03:23 AM

I don't think Swing Low has been 'turned into a rugby song', it's just been adopted (not adapted) by rugby fans. I haven't detected any major differences in the ways in which it is sung in a concert setting by a soloist as opposed to being sung by many thousands in a stadium.


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 03:27 AM

After the U.S. Civil War, there were several Black colleges establish in the United States. Perhaps the best known was Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. The university soon got into financial problems, and music director John W. Work took the university choir, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, on the road to do concerts of "Negro Spirituals" for white audiences, to raise money to keep the university alive. The choral versions of spirituals that Work arranged, were intended for white audiences, so sometimes the arrangements of the songs were not true to their slave roots. Nonetheless, the songs were good and the performances were good, and they raised a lot of money for the university. I have "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" in an 1880 book titled The Story of the Jubilee Singers with their Songs. To me, the song has always meant the yearning of Black slaves to escape slavery, with hope for a brighter future after the chariot has "carried us home."

It's certainly not the slave roots of this song that might be objectionable. I think it's the desecration of this sacred song of freedom that is objectionable. To be truthful, I didn't find any performances of the song that I would object to, but I have seen Americans perform the song with hand motions that are nearly obscene. I think this is an anti-slavery song that should be treated with respect.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 03:28 AM

I don't know much about English Rugby.
My wife is a fanatical Welsh rugby supporter.
English rugby is banned from our house, unless Wales are playing them.

But I only just found out
there seems to be a traditional set of 'vulgar' dance movements
accompanying this song at England matches..

That may be the crux of why the song is now considered to be demeaned...???


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Allan Conn
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 03:48 AM

In my view this is much ado about nothing. Who knows why certain songs get taken up by certain sets of supporters but they do. For instance why on earth did Scottish football fans take to singing "Doe A Deer" from the Sound Of Music?? I don't know - but they did. There's no logic other than songs get taken up by sections of folk then become more widely popular. We do in Scotland have real problems with objectionable sectarian songs being sung by Old Firm fans in particular but Swing Low is surely being sung with innocent intentions. Just communal singing. There is actual racism to deal with in British sport, with abuse being shouted at black players etc, but this song is maybe a diversion from dealing with real issues?? The most objectionable thing with this one might be it is just a wee bit boring. They only sing the chorus - over and over and over and over again! I too remember after rugby drinking here in the Scottish Borders in the late 70s and this was sung as a drinking song with all the lewd gestures etc - but it seems to have since become associated specifically with English rugby fans I imagine simply because they took to singing the chorus over and over at games.


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 05:08 AM

And if they start banning rugby crowds from singing hymns then that's most of the Welsh repertoire gone:


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 05:23 AM

If they do ban the English from singing 'Chariots' then I suppose the Welsh will stop singing "You can stick your f*****g chariots up your a**e". (Tune: she'll be coming round the mountain)


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Johnny J
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 05:33 AM

Do they still sing the "Zulu warrior" song and "Running Bear"?
Both of those seem a bit dodgy these days.


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 11:50 AM

I think maybe a middle ground is appropriate. Banning songs simply causes animosity in many cases, but I think it's probably better if sports organisations don't give any support or provide accompaniment to "edgy" songs.
In the performances of the song that I've seen, it's mostly the hand motions that could be deemed offensive. The "slavery origins" of the song mantioned in the first message aren't what's objectionable. It's the use of a slave song for frivolous purposes. And I think the best response is to show no official support, not to ban a song.


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Senoufou
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 12:56 PM

Honestly, when I think back to my childhood (millions of years ago!) the songs we sang at school and in the Church, Brownies, Girl Guides etc would make ones hair stand on end nowadays.

"Over the sea there are little brown children,
Fathers and mothers and babies dear.
They have not heard of our Father in heaven,
No-one has told them that God is near..." (sung in Sunday school, missionary song)

"Land of the silver birch, home of the beaver..." ('Red Indians' song)

Ching ching Chinaman chop chop chop.
Me aflaid all the tlade velly velly bad.
No joke, stoney bloke,
Gotta shut the shop.
Ching ching Chinaman chop chop chop."

How embarrassing eh?


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 03:08 PM

I don't think it's fair to include "Land of the Silver Birch" with "Ching Ching Chinaman".

The former expresses a desire to return to a lost, idyllic way of life. The only objection I could see is the use of the term 'Red Indian' song to describe it; The latter makes fun of of a group of people using an insulting stereotype.

DC


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 03:22 PM

Nothing wrong with red Indian - whatever next?


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Senoufou
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 03:54 PM

But I thought we should refer to them as Native Americans nowadays?


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 04:14 PM

Ok thanks for that, perhaps I've been watching too many westerns!


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Senoufou
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 05:33 PM

We used to play 'Cowboys and Indians' all the time. (I was always chosen to be an Indian - no idea why!) And we watched westerns at the cinema very often.
I do try to live my life avoiding causing pain or unpleasantness, and if certain songs, cultural practices etc offend, embarrass or anger certain groups of folk, I'd stop.
But I sometimes think these 'woke' objectors are not deeply upset at all, just looking for an outlet for their activities.
Similar to those who complain about blackface Morris 'on behalf of' black people. Black people are perfectly capable of speaking up for themselves if they're truly offended.


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 06:28 PM

I have known "Land of the Silver Birch" since the late 1950s. This is the first I have ever heard of it as "Red Indians' Song."
Wikipedia gives a second "wigwam" verse that somebody might question, but I'd prefer to just drop the second verse and just enjoy the song. I've never sung the second verse myself, but I think I have seen it before. Lots of songs have crummy second and third verses.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
From: Jeri
Date: 21 Jun 20 - 06:32 PM

Indians actually prefer "Indian". "Red" is just stupid. No USian calls them that, anyway.

I met a guy, a chief, who, with his wife, made really great lifelike dolls, in authentic dress from various tribes. He'd been an actor, and had been in a lot of old westerns in the day. He was never cast in a speaking part because he'd gone to Oxford, and sounded like it.
OMG - I had to poke around. Everybody's on Wikipedia
Chief White Eagle/Basil F Heath (His heritage is questionable, but I don't personally care.)


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