Mudcat Café message #3894491 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #163299   Message #3894491
Posted By: Jackaroodave
18-Dec-17 - 08:16 AM
Thread Name: Jingle Bells Originally Performed in Minstrel Show
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells Originally Performed in Minstrel Show
Gargoyle, I apologize for my inference and thank you for the reference to Hamill's article. It was a real eye-opener for me. True, there is a lot of jargon and self-importance in the beginning, and perhaps more detail throughout than even I can appreciate.

However, she demonstrates with great thoroughness the blackface minstrel background of the song's composition, showing clearly the intent of the songs to ridicule the pretensions of African Americans. Without exposure to the context of the song's composition, it may be difficult to see how its origin could be objectionable. Reading a few of the songs and seeing some of the prints that Hamill includes makes this abundantly clear.

It answers the question raised above,"Why would blackface minstrels sing a song about sleighriding in northern winter snows?" Exactly. To satirize the pretensions of black northerners daring to participate in this white sport. The Currier and Ives illustrations show clearly how the image of black faces in the white snow is supposed to be inherently comic, how the foolhardiness of the comical blacks results in "hilarious" results as the uppities get their true come-uppance.*

She also explains why, with the exception of the dialect marker "upsot," this song is not written in eye-dialect, unlike the other blackface sleigh riding songs that preceded it.

The song was written by a Confederate sympathizer, dedicated to a theatrical empresaeio of blackface minstrelsy, and submitted for performamce, and performed, at the site of many blackface performances.

What it does NOT contain is any suggestion that the song as now sung is racist, or that it should not be sung because of its undeniable racist origins. That was the work of the fake news industry.

*The supposed risibility of blacks participating in winter sports is persistent. I can recall an issue of the National Lampoon containing an pictorial on unlikely specialty magazines: One was "Black Skiier," depicting a pimped-out black male dashing down the snow-white slope. Hilarity ensued.