That Wonderful Public Broadcasting

So now that we're going to enjoy the brilliance of NPR instead of Album 88 on our radio, what do we have to look forward to? How about this meditation on how Ice Cream Trucks are associated with deep-seated American racism?
I came across this gem while researching racial stereotypes. I was a bit conflicted on whether the song warranted a listen. Admittedly, though, beneath my righteous indignation, I was rather curious about how century-old, overt racism sounded and slightly amused by the farcical title. When I started the song, the music that tumbled from the speakers was that of the ever-recognizable jingle of the ice cream truck. (For the record, not all ice cream trucks play this same song, but a great many of them do.)
Well, not only is the song not the same one played by all ice cream trucks, it's just one version of a much older traditional tune better known as "Turkey in the Straw." The article makes that point, but insists that we really need to focus on the racist version because ice cream became popular in association with traveling blackface minstrel shows.

The final part of the article asks whether we should tell our children about the racism embedded in the truck that they -- the children -- care about only because it represents a source of ice cream in the hot summer weather. Should we? "The answer is intellectually complex, but parental intuition provides clarity." This 'complex' answer proves to be, 'Yes, when they are old enough to understand about Santa Claus.'

Can we get a ruling on this nonsense answer? Either this is an ongoing affront to justice, in which case we need to do something about it; or, when our kids ask what the name of the song is, we can just say, "Turkey in the Straw." I'd have never known about the racist minstrel version of the song if NPR hadn't mentioned it, and I'm pretty sure it would not have made America either better or worse if that were the case.

Where there are continuing violations of natural rights, or continuing actual harms due to racism, that's one thing. There remain some places where we really need to carefully investigate the historic injustices in order to make some positive change in accord with true justice.

Picking at scabs is another thing all together.


Ymar Sakar said...

New Orleans is a chocolate city. Chocolates so Democrat lords can eat the luxury of the ages while upping the AC in the White House during winter.

Grim said...

What on earth is that supposed to mean?

MikeD said...

No no! By all means, we ought to address this as the most pressing issue of the day! Because nothing could be more important than worrying about a half century old corruption of a two century old tune! Heaven forfend children should be able to enjoy ice cream without hearing this tale of blood guilt!

All sarcasm aside, what a stupid thing to worry about. Until this article was written, I'm fairly willing to bet that there were less than 100 people alive who knew what the author "discovered". And likely fewer who cared.

Eric Blair said...

Ymar is off his meds again, perhaps.

Picking scabs is an apt metaphor for for this sort of stuff, since nobody today recognizes it for the association it once had.

Sort like the Democratic party. (ahem).

Anyway, the comments at NPR are pretty much all taking the article to task for being stupid.

Texan99 said...

Are ice-cream trucks associated with deep-seated American racism? Well, sure--what isn't?

I don't even think this is picking at scabs. It's just an increasingly desperate attempt to play more-sensitive-than-thou, which is another version of purer-than-thou. In fact, these people aren't far from General Ripper's rant about purity of essence and children's ice cream.

Ymar Sakar said...

Eric B, and what do you know about meds, my clown?

Grim, go look up Mayor Nagin, your Democrat neighbor over yonder. Maybe it was his ice cream you were talking about, yes.

Anonymous said...

Our ice-cream truck sometimes plays "The Eyes of Texas" along with "Camptown Races" and "Grand Old Flag." It's nice to have a bit of a change from time to time.


Texan99 said...

They must not have gotten the dog-whistle, I mean memo.

Ymar Sakar said...

Ever wonder why I give Eric Boy here free rent space in my head. Don't know, do you.

Like the real reason why Grim rejected civil war as an option to consider, so the same reason will remain hidden from here, by me, for me. Until you can figure it out for yourself.

As for drugs, my Obama whispers gave me a special concoction. I wonder if Eric my boy here would volunteer to be a test subject.

And you still haven't figured out why, hoho. Muahjaha.

Well, I guess it's not that funny. I need the true Laugh of Insanity. It's still, mada, out of reach. Mad Scientist level, so to speak.

They are watching. Never forget that.

Here's a hint. Stalking horse.

Grim said...

I didn't reject it as an option to consider. I rejected the option that we were already at war.

We may well get there. I'm hoping to avoid it.

RonF said...

My kids never asked me what the song was. I guess they were lucky that I was thus able to spare them an hour-long lecture on racism.

Oh, wait - that would never have happened, because I had no F'in idea what ANY of the lyrics of the song were, never mind the bastardized version here.

"(who can forget Eddie Murphy's famous, NSFW routine about the poor black experience with ice cream trucks?)."

I wonder if this ever-so-sensitive author has any idea how patronizing this statement is? Does he truly imagine that this routine is famous? That more than 1 out of a 1,000 or 10,000 people have heard it? I never had, and I've seen Eddie Murphy on SNL (when he was on it, not just old videos) and in his movies.

And now, having watched it - with the exception of the kid with the ice cream ragging another kid because he was on welfare, the rest of the routine sounds just like when I grew up. The "black experience" with ice cream trucks is a whole lot like the white one from what I heard there.

Texan99 said...

I've recognized that tune as "Turkey in the Straw" since I was a kid, but I have no idea why. I suspect it was in the music book that we sang from in elementary school, in complete innocence of any notion of being racist. (No, we weren't given the "coon" lyrics, nor were they part of unauthorized elementary school lore.) Though it doesn't quite seem like a song you'd try to sing, does it? Maybe it was in one of my piano primers.

Long ago I learned alternative lyrics to "Pomp & Circumstance" that included the lines "My reindeer like women; your reindeer are queer." I suppose we'll have to discontinue use of the tune from graduations now, because it implies hate speech. And what about "Colonel Bogie's March," once we learned to sing "Comet, it makes you vomit"?

Honestly, these people are mentally ill. I don't think they realize the extent to which tunes, for several hundred years (at least) before the advent of recordings, led an existence more or less divorced from their lyrics. People added in whatever lyrics suited the meter. A few lyrics were so popular, or so well suited to their tunes, that they got firmly stuck together in the popular imagination, but by no means all.

Grim said...

"Like learning about states and their capitals? We have unpleasant news for you."

Anonymous said...

I'm with Texan99. Any tune can have its lyrics rewritten. That someone chose to rewrite the lyrics says nothing whatever about the original.

This caliber of nonsense shows up on NPR with great regularity. I channel-hop in the San Diego area, and get regular doses of patronizing pseudo-intellectualism from KPBS and KPFK. It is not pretty.

Yesterday, there was an interview with Democratic apologists castigating Republicans for daring to investigate the Benghazi incident. It was mildly amusing to hear one of the interviewees refrain from saying he was "outraged" by the blatant partisanship of the Republicans.

Public radio is Democratic Party advertising.


Texan99 said...

So I guess where I come out is, if the tune has guilty associations for someone because of the lyrics he's attached to it in his head, maybe he should avoid playing it--but that's no reason to expect the rest of us to keep our minds in the gutter. Isn't it a bit like referring to furniture "limbs" because calling them "legs" might cause us to slip up and entertain a stray sexual thought? You have to be awfully afraid of thoughts to need to police them so frantically.

Grim said...

I always assumed the Victorians were involved in a bit of flirty play with those sorts of games. Nobody would associate a piano's legs with anything sexy if they were just straight, solid pieces of wood. But carve them suggestively, and then put a skirt over them so they are out of sight, and then demand that everyone be careful not to refer to them the wrong way lest stray thoughts appear! Ah, now we have a pleasant game that gentlemen and ladies can play, and even in the best of company, even in front of mother, since the rules of the game are about how good you're being!