Yankees Suspend Use of Kate Smith's 'God Bless America' amid Racism Allegation

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2019

New York Yankees players listen to
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The New York Yankees announced they have suspended use of the rendition of "God Bless America" sung by Kate Smith over allegations of racism.

"The Yankees have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information," the team said in a statement. "The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity."

The Yankees have used Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" since the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reported the team stopped using Smith's rendition because of claims of racism regarding her 1939 song, “That’s Why Darkies Were Born."

At the time, the song was considered satire. However, the lyrics of the song contain clear racial undertones. The first four lines of the song read as follows:

Someone had to pick the cotton

Someone had to pick the corn

Someone had to slave and be able to sing

That's why darkies were born

Smith also recorded the song “Pickaninny Heaven,” a satirical jingle that also contained insensitive language. The singer died in 1986. 

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