by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
May 7, 2006
BAA BAA BLUE SHEEP?
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- One thing most people don't know about me is that two of my children are adopted from Haiti, and the other is from Bolivia. Needless to say, this draws more than a few stares whenever we go out in public. (We just stare back.)
We always talk to our kids about how special they are, and how they should be proud of being black or Hispanic. But I always wondered if Youngest Daughter was actually paying attention, or just nodding to make me shut up.
I finally got my answer a few months ago. Our family had been on a small road trip, and had stopped at a coffee shop on the way home. A black woman walked into the store and headed for the register. Youngest Daughter ran up to her, screeched to a halt six inches away, and then - in case no one in the place realized it - shouted at the top of her lungs, "Mommy, she's black like me!!" My wife apologized, but the woman laughed and said she had done the same thing when she was that age. Youngest Daughter just beamed. Needless to say, there is no question about her pride anymore.
So I was stunned at the recent news out of Oxfordshire, England: British educators are changing the children's tune "Baa Baa Black Sheep" to avoid offending black people.
An article in the Manchester (England) Evening News reports that administrators of two nursery schools - the Family Centre in Abingdon and Sure Start Centre in Sutton Courteney - have changed the song to "Baa Baa Sad Sheep."
According to Stuart Chamberlain, manager of Sure Start, they're changing the song because "we take an equal opportunity approach to everything we do... (n)o one should feel pointed out because of their race, gender, or anything else."
In other words, if they sing a song that has the word "black" in it, black people might be offended? Does this mean, if we follow their logic, we should do away with Black History Month and Women's History Month? No more single gender bathrooms? After all, we don't want girls to feel "pointed out" because they don't have a stand-up urinal in their bathroom, do we?
In an effort to be inclusive, they also sing about happy, bouncing, pink, blue, black, white, and other kinds of sheep. I don't know how to break this to Mr. Chamberlain, but there aren't a lot of blue-furred creatures in the animal kingdom, so it's not so much inoffensive as it is wildly inaccurate.
This wouldn't be the first time the song came under PC attack in England. In 2000, the Birmingham City Council banned the song altogether, saying it was racist and portrayed negative stereotypes. It didn't matter that the song was actually written in 1744 to complain about taxes on wool exports. In fact, the only people it would have offended were the pro-tariff nationalists, and they had been dead for 256 years, so I don't think it mattered to them at all.
It didn't matter to the black parents in Birmingham either. They said the whole idea was ludicrous, so the City Council rescinded the ban.
Unfortunately, this lunacy isn't limited to the British. Apparently, U.S.-based children's singer Peter Moses has committed the same heresy. A few years ago, he released a children's CD that included his own version of "Baa Baa Sad Sheep." One would assume he chose this title for the same "you can't say 'black' because it could upset black people" Political Correctness that is currently throttling Oxfordshire nursery schools. But his hypersensitivity is surprising, given some of the other song titles on the CD.
The song "Two Little Blackbirds" wasn't changed to "Sadbirds," for example. He included "I've Been Workin' On the Railroad," even though it could upset people who work for the airline industry, ocean cruise ships, or highway maintenance workers.
"There Was an Old Lady" and "This Old Man" made the album, even though "seniors" or "elderly" are now the preferred terms. People with very large ears might be offended by "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" He even risked alienating animal rights activists with "Bear Went Over the Mountain" and "Eensy Weensy Spider."
"Clap, Clap, Clap Your Hands" could be upsetting to people with poor motor skills, and "Way Up High" might frighten the bejeezus out of people with a fear of heights.
And don't get me started about "Ten Little Indians."
I can only imagine the frustration some people must feel. My daughter is proud of who she is, and loves the color of her skin. To change a song just because it uses the word "black" only teaches shame and embarrassment, not pride and excitement. So I hope the Oxfordshire schools and Moses rethink their Politically Correct song titles before Youngest Daughter starts writing her own songs.
She's already come up with "Eensy Minded Morons."