The late Kate Smith passed away in 1986.Back in the mid 20th century she was called the "The First Lady of Radio", and "The Songbird of the South" because of her popularity during World War II.
Today she's best known for her rendition of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America", which baseball fans hear every time they attend a Yankees.
That is, they DID hear it every time there was a Yankees game. The tradition has recently been canceled because the rules about what's considered culturally acceptable have changed a great deal since her time as a star.More specifically, it's no longer acceptable to sing a song called, "That's What Darkies Are For".
Way back in 1931 Smith sang a popular song with that exact title and, believe it or not, it reached #12 on the Billboard charts where it stayed for about 3 weeks. Crazy, huh?
The song opens up with the line "Someone had to pick the cotton, Someone had to pick the corn, Someone had to slave and be able to sing, That’s why darkies were born."
Considering the lyrics and context, it's not hard to understand why some people don't want Kate's voice featured every time the Yankees play the Red Sox, but why is this just suddenly now an issue? The song was released almost a century ago. She’s been a staple in music and baseball culture for decades and people in 2019 just suddenly realize she once did something that would be considered racist by today’s standards.
I’d also like to point out that there seems to be a considerably large group of people arguing on social media today that the aforementioned song was satirical & intended to mock racist people in the same way that Mel Brooks' Springtime For Hitler in Germany mocked Nazis.George White was a progressive, they claim, and not a racist.I can't actually confirm or disprove this argument but I will agree with the more vocal critics, the lyrics are not easy to listen to if you're the kinda person who finds racism deplorable.
All that being said, is it fair to judge people from the past by today's standards? Modern day social justice warriors have done this with men like Christopher Columbus and Andrew Jackson, but what happens when Martin Luther King Jr's opinions about abortion & gay marriage make him unpalatable to progressive activists?Will MLK Day be nullified to adhere to the PC crowd?We'll have to wait and see.
In the meantime if you enjoyed Kate’s voice at baseball games the only way you’ll hear it going forward is when you remember to bring headphones & an MP3 player with you the next time you attend a Yankees game.