12 Children’s Nursery Rhymes That Are Actually Racist

Dennis
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Welcome, esteemed reader, to a whimsical expedition through the enchanting realm of Mother Goose. In this delightful land, the sky is adorned with avian creatures indulging in delectable pies while majestic bridges, masterfully crafted by London’s finest, grace the horizon. But hold on to the beanstalks! What if I say that these seemingly innocent children’s nursery rhymes, once giggled to, are steeped in racism?

Get ready to re-examine those childhood lullabies and see them in a new, less rose-tinted light. Prepare for a tour through the underbelly of 12 children’s nursery rhymes that are actually racist. Get ready for a wild journey down memory lane!

“Eenie Meenie Miny Moe”

12 Children’s Nursery Rhymes That Are Actually Racist
kiwikiss via Flickr

The original version of this rhyme included a racial slur, which is now commonly replaced with ‘tiger.’

“Oh Susanna”

12 Children’s Nursery Rhymes That Are Actually Racist
KOne Ruby Ruby via Flickr

Though it may sound harmless, this song’s original lyrics depict African-American people’s hardships in a light-hearted manner.

“Ten Little Indians”

12 Children’s Nursery Rhymes That Are Actually Racist
ggmossgirl via Flickr

Originating from America, this nursery rhyme has faced criticism for its racial undertones and usage of derogatory language to describe Native American children.

‘Shoo Fly Don’t Bother Me’

12 Children’s Nursery Rhymes That Are Actually Racist
Đồng Hoàng via Flickr

“Shoo Fly Don’t Bother Me” may appear as a harmless song about swatting flies, but its origins reveal a more profound history. Believed to have been sung by African-American soldiers during the Civil War, it potentially served as a veiled protest against Confederate forces.

The lyrics, “I belong to somebody,” carry a sad undertone, hinting at the experience of being enslaved. Although now used as a popular children’s tune, it is a poignant reminder of a painful past.

“Do Your Ears Hang Low”

12 Children’s Nursery Rhymes That Are Actually Racist
Marcia O’ Neill via Flickr

This tune was originally associated with the racial caricature “Zip Coon”, a song performed in minstrel shows.

“Chinese, Japanese, Dirty Knees”

12 Children’s Nursery Rhymes That Are Actually Racist
izusek via Canva.com

This rhyme uses racial stereotypes to mock individuals of East Asian descent.

“Old Mother Goose and the Golden Egg”

12 Children’s Nursery Rhymes That Are Actually Racist
aluxum via Canva.com

“Old Mother Goose” is a popular nursery rhyme that may sound familiar with its catchy verses and golden egg. However, a closer look reveals a deeper story with hints of exploitation.

The tale revolves around a bird forced to lay golden eggs, sparking scholarly debates about the seemingly innocent Mother Goose. So, next time you sing along, remember there’s more at stake than just a golden egg!

“Shortnin’ Bread”

12 Children’s Nursery Rhymes That Are Actually Racist
oksanashufrych via Canva.com

Despite its catchy rhythm, this song includes demeaning portrayals of African Americans.

“Old Man River”

12 Children’s Nursery Rhymes That Are Actually Racist
desertswan528 via Flickr

While it may sound like a simple work song, it underplays the harsh realities of enslaved African Americans working on plantations.

“Five Little Monkeys”

12 Children’s Nursery Rhymes That Are Actually Racist
Aiden.Builds via Flickr

Controversially, some believe this song uses monkeys as a racial metaphor.

“Goober Peas”

12 Children’s Nursery Rhymes That Are Actually Racist
FatCamera via Canva.com

This seemingly innocent song about peanuts has been accused of covertly belittling the living conditions of African Americans post-Civil War.

“Camptown Races”

12 Children’s Nursery Rhymes That Are Actually Racist
Karen Ackles via Flickr

This song, often associated with childhood innocence, subtly perpetuates racial stereotypes about African Americans.

By acknowledging the uncomfortable truths behind these nursery rhymes, we can approach children’s literature with a more critical and informed perspective.

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  • Dennis

    Dennis brings a comprehensive worldview to the Frenz Hub team, fueled by his passions for writing, reading, documentaries, and community involvement. His educational background enhances his thoughtful contributions.

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