Boston University professor claims “Jingle Bells” is racist

kyna hamill

Professor Kyna Hamill

From Daily Mail: A professor has claimed that Jingle Bells has racist roots because it was first performed in blackface. ‘The legacy of ‘Jingle Bells’ is one where its blackface and racist origins have been subtly and systematically removed from its history,’ wrote Kyna Hamill, a Boston University theater historian, in a research paper that is making waves.

The claim has shocked fans of one of the world’s most famous Christmas carols, long considered innocuous and inoffensive.

Hamill began researching the origins of Jingle Bells to help settle a dispute between Medford, Massachusetts and Savannah, Georgia – both of which claim to be the place where James Lord Pierpont composed the song.

In the course of her research, Hamill discovered a playbill indicating that Jingle Bells was first performed under the title One Horse Open Sleigh in blackface, for a minstrel show at Ordway Hall on Boston’s Washington Street in 1857. She wrote that traces of the song’s blackface minstrel origins can be found in the music and lyrics, as well as the ‘elements of “male display,” boasting, and the unbridled behavior of the male body onstage’.

‘Its origins emerged from the economic needs of a perpetually unsuccessful man, the racial politics of antebellum Boston, the city’s climate, and the intertheatrical repertoire of commercial blackface performers moving between Boston and New York,’ Hamill wrote in her paper.

‘Although ‘One Horse Open Sleigh,’ for most of its singers and listeners, may have eluded its racialized past and taken its place in the seemingly unproblematic romanticization of a normal ‘white’ Christmas, attention to the circumstances of its performance history enables reflection on its problematic role in the construction of blackness and whiteness in the United States,’ she wrote.

Her claims, published in September, have attracted furious reaction from some who see them as an attack on Christmas traditions.

‘Jingle Bells is racist, White Christmas is racist, Baby it’s Cold Outside is sexist. What the hell happend to the America I grew up in where people didn’t wake up every day trying to find something to be offended by?,’ wrote one Twitter user.

‘What the hell is wrong with these liberal professors do they have nothing better to do besides sit around and Pick A Part our history and call everything racist,’ wrote another person on Twitter.

But as backlash mounted, Hamill spoke out to say that her research had been misinterpreted.  ‘In 1857 when it was performed in blackface — that is white men blackening up with burnt cork on their faces — it would have been racist,’ she told the Boston Herald.

‘I never said it was racist now,’ said Hamill. ‘Nowhere did I say that. My point was that because it is now included in the Christmas catalog of songs — attention is only given to it during the Christmas season — it has eluded rigorous study,’ she said.

Hamill insisted that she wasn’t telling people not to sing Jingle Bells, and that her research had been blown out of proportion.  ‘I did not write the article to make people upset. At no point have I ever made a claim on what people should or should not sing at Christmas,’ she said.

Decide for yourself how much Jingle Bells romanticizes whiteness. Read the lyrics to Jingle Bells here.


42 responses to “Boston University professor claims “Jingle Bells” is racist

  1. She may be confusing “Jingle Bells” with “Jungle Belle’s.”

    Liked by 4 people

  2. “Hamill insisted that she wasn’t telling people not to sing Jingle Bells, and that her research had been blown out of proportion. ”
    Maybe she should be studying something more USEFUL than what songs are RAAAAAAACIST. I believe a full 95% of America DOESN’T FRICKIN’ CARE.

    Liked by 5 people

    • truck . . . . . Al I can say is . . . Amen to that! I know I don’t really care. I just wish people would stop claiming that everything that people do or say is a racist act!

      Liked by 3 people

      • I’m seeing the possibility that they’ll be sliding the meaning of Racist to cover ANYTHING they choose to Protest. WAIT !!-Hasn’t THAT happened BEFORE???

        Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, she could be studying nematodes to see if they cry or something meaningful like that. They must pay her something at that university to do other things besides wringing her hands at the downtrodden.

      I suppose if she’s Buddhist she could set herself afire in Boston Common. When she “solves” this issue maybe she can do “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”.

      Liked by 2 people

    • EXACTLY, truck….OMG…this is a useless academic “study” just like the multi-million dollar “shrimp on a treadmill academic, funded, investigation/ study.” Being from the world of academia myself, I understand that these “folks” have to find something out-of-the-way or un-towards to “investigate” and write about so that they can remain “solvent” within their saturated academic towers…….thus, you get these off-beat and borderline, downright weird topics of no-account, no interest, no validity.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ……..So?……….

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I think that perhaps some liberal professors may be wanting to get their name out in the public arena, in an effort to aggrandize themselves. I should imagine that they may well wish to “stand out” and this is a way to do that.

    This professor denied that she claimed that this study was a “racist” indictment, and that may well be so. We all know how our current media likes to jump on something, twist it and turn it, and make a mountain out of a mole hill.

    I do not see that people who perform in blackface as being a “racist” act. Yes, they are mimicking black performers; as we all well know–black singers are among the very best performers in the world. I think back to the 1960’s . . . Smokey Robinson, Mary Wells, The Temptations, Odis Redding, The Dells, I could go on and on and on. Frankly, I always thought the music that they brought to the public arena enriched all our lives.

    Is it a “racist” act when we see famous black people, Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, and others who have used bleaching agents on their skin–in an attempt to mimic more closely the skin color of Western European peoples? Or, is it “racist” for black women to bleach their hair to shades of blond that mimic hair coloring that we often find among blue eyed Nordic people? Is it a “racist” act when many blacks use extremely toxic agents on their hair to “straighten it” so that it more closely conforms to the texture of Caucasian hair? Is it “racist” when black women have “weaves” done to lengthen their hair so that it more closely matches the hair length that is fashionable among many young Caucasian women. It would seem to me that many wish to make the claim that us “white” folks are always the offenders when it comes to “racist” acts.

    I have always had a secret desire to wear the style of dress that we see among some African women . . . in particular I am talking about the style of dress that includes a long skirt, with a rather long tunic style top, with puffy sleeves, in a beautiful bright print. Although I personally find this style beautiful, I have never been, I guess brave enough to, wear the style, lest I should offend anyone–black or white.

    I think that we should be able to adopt the best and most choice attributes of other races. There is beauty among all peoples, some of the most beautiful of children are found among black babies, and toddlers . . . but that does not take away from white babies and toddlers. I find that darker skin tones have a beauty and warmth to it, but that does not take away from the beauty that is found in lighter skin tones. There is beauty, if you look, the attributes may be different in various races, but that does not necessarily take away from the individualistic beauty to be found.

    I think that as a society in this country we have enough severe problems to worry about . . . . . our ever growing national debt, the lunatic fat boy in North Korea, the gang who wishes to turn us into a New World Order planet, the infringement of personal liberty in our country, the fact that some segments of our society lag behind in education, and thus have lesser employment opportunities . . . . . I think you get the drift, without me enumerating further. Rather than focus on “racist” this and “racist” that, we should be working as a united group to handle the real problems that face our country, not these contrived acts of “racism.”

    Liked by 6 people

    • I’m just a dumb biker,so I’ll need her to clarify,with great specificity,exactly WHAT is Racist about it. It sounds like just a really good Christmas song to me,and whenever I hear it,have NO thoughts of any Race,or their being insulted by a SONG. These Race-Baiters need to grow up,develop a little thicker skin and realize they can’t change the thoughts and hearts of the World to match their key-hole-narrow view of utopia.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Well ya’ see, jingle bells are round. So are cotton balls, get it? Oh, I forgot, you’re not “liberal” so it probably doesn’t make sense.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Truck, you ARE NOT a dumb biker, you are a sensible man that enjoys feeling free riding in the wind. Wayyyyyyy back in Havana those Harleys roared with so much might, my uncle had a beauty, now my son has one and it is like a blue sapphire, bbbbrrrrmmm, bbbbrrrrmmmmm, love that rumble!

        Liked by 3 people

      • truck . . . I’m with you, I do not perceive any “racism” in this song. Who cares that over a hundred years ago it was first performed by white people in blackface. I am no more concerned by that than I am concerned that for the most part, most people in our country use indoor plumbing, rather than outhouses. It just doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. When I hear the song “Jingle Bells” I think of goodwill, cheer, family gatherings, how wonderful it must be to ride in a one horse open sleigh, the wonder of a snow covered landscape. My thoughts are so far from thinking anything racist that it is not funny. I agree with you, there are far too many “Race-Baiters” that see evil meanings here and there, and everywhere, and they want to beat us over the head with such accusations. So that the rest of us are just plain exhausted in the effort of trying to see what they portray as events that are “racist.” I for one just don’t care anymore. I am not racist, and I cannot control what any other person does, or does not do–therefore it has nothing to do with me!

        Liked by 3 people

    • Nicely said, Auntie.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. “…. the construction of blackness and whiteness in the United States…” Wtf is that? Did they get a permit for this “construction?”

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Why don’t we get this over with by declaring EVERYTHING in Western civilization to be racist, and EVERYTHING of the non-West to be pure as the driven snow. /sarc

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t even know what Department one would GO to for a Permit for THAT. (sarc)

      Liked by 2 people

    • Since we’re tuning up the US anyway,Let’s declare ALL people rapists,assaulters and child molesters;THEN,let’s declare EVERYONE are VICTIMS,and have all the violators pay a percentage to all the victims. It SHOULD be pretty much a “break even” deal. THERE-NOW,everyone has been violated,and compensated. NOW can we PLEASE get on with LIVING?

      Liked by 2 people

      • truck . . . . Wow! I would vote for that plan. Tell me, would that indemnify us white folks against the claims for reparations going to those who are descendants of slavery? I for one would really like to get out from beneath that monetary burden, since most of my people did not come to this country until after the civil war, and none of them owned slaves–they just nearly worked themselves to death. I think if we can include this, I think we have an excellent plan goin’

        Liked by 3 people

        • I think the “Generational Reparations” argument the Native Americans and Blacks have been pushing are completely without merit,and thus are null and void demands. It’s insane to demand re-payment from distant RELATIVES of people who may or may NOT have wronged YOUR RELATIVES. THAT was tthen-THIS is NOW. Let it go!

          Liked by 1 person

    • I think she should cut her hair and flog herself daily over this. If that doesn’t work, there’s always suicide. There’s a difference between getting hysterical over nothing and attempting to force everyone else to do the same.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. The race baiting these days is insane! Grow up, liberals!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Why can’t these idiots just go off somewhere and feel “ashamed” all by themselves? It isn’t working on me.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. “….as well as the ‘elements of “male display,” boasting, and the unbridled behavior of the male body onstage’.” WTF? Oh, so along with being a self-hating blond, she’s a man-hater too. Yawn! How droll!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. 🎷🎼”I’m dreaming of a White Christmas”??? That sounds sooo racist (sarc) – let’s try ……“I’m dreaming of a black Christmas”, oh no, that doesn’t sound right! Ok….. jingle balls jingle all the way, ouch, that hurts! and The Little Drummer Boy, please, don’t go there! And for all of Us let’s try peace on Earth to Men and Women of good will. Merry Christmas to all FOTM, we are the good will ambassadors!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Not nearly as much as “Mam-my, how I love ya’, how I love ya’, my dear ol’ mammy!”.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Alma . . . Thank you for those wonderful sentiments!

      Merry Christmas to my entire FOTM family, God Bless us all that we prosper and help our country to once again achieve greatness in the coming years! Oh! I forgot . . . God Bless our dear President . . . President Trump! He’s darn near the very best Christmas present any of us ever got.

      Liked by 3 people

  11. Jingle Bells? Wait ’til she get to Al Jolson…

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Methinks the alleged “professor” is not fit for said title, and requires what has been termed in recent years “getting a life”, and “getting a clue”. That she went to such effort to defame a song demonstrates that she is willfully working for the devil, even if she doesn’t acknowledge that he exists.

    The question here is, why can’t she do good with her life instead?

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Racist is picking every little thing apart until you can find something that you can use to offend someone. Instead of pointing out every defect and transgression, people should try playing up the positives and similarities. Focus on the good to be done. Not the wrong that can’t be undone. You catch more flies with honey that with vinager.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Pingback: ‘Jingle Bells’ is Racist! | Lee Duigon

  15. Let’s see now…
    “Jingle Bells, Batman smells.
    Robin laid an egg.
    Batmobile lost a wheel,
    Joker got away, Hey!”

    Nope, nothing racist in there…
    At least, not the way I learned it.

    BTW, not to be mean, but of that professor’s photo?
    “Dude looks like a lady.” Or vice-versa.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. LOL – Me thinks the perfesser got a hold of some tainted clam chowder.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Prof. Hamill, I am sure that your students know that racism, including slavery, were universal in the nineteenth century. And that slavery was even more brutal in the colonies of the European countries than the United States. And that slavery is carried out today in Muslim countries following Islam, an Obama-endorsed faith in spite of the practice of slavery. If your students are not aware of this, make the most of this teachable moment. Also, note that most Americans are improving race relations today in spite of the efforts of those seeking destruction of our great nation to bring a hate-filled division that could undo all our progress.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: News With Views | The Romance Of Failure

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s