Conservative media outlets and their angry followers are maligning a Boston University theater professor on social media because she published a history of “Jingle Bells” that said it has racist roots. But her research is part of a necessary examination into this county’s racist past that should not exempt Christmas traditions.
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“The legacy of ‘Jingle Bells’ is one where its blackface and racist origins have been subtly and systematically removed from its history,” Kyna Hamill wrote in her research paper. She added that “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.”
The first documented performance of the Christmas jingle, written by James Pierpont, was in blackface at a theater in Boston in 1857, Hamill told Fox News. Its origins emerged from the racial politics of pre-Civil War Boston and from a group of commercial blackface performers traveling between Boston and New York.
Hamill, who’s White, is not calling for the death of “Jingle Bells.” What she’s doing should be seen in the same light as the movement to delve into the racist past at educational institutions. None of that changes the past, but a simple acknowledgement goes a long way toward healing. That’s the case at Georgetown University, when the administration publicly recognized the wrongdoing and debt it owed to a mass slave sale in the 19th century that kept the institution alive. Harvard University’s president also understood that moving forward from racial conflict on campus required acknowledging that it was complicit in the slave trade.
SOURCE: Fox News
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