“Baa Baa Black Sheep” ………. We all know the nursery rhyme. But some nursery rhymes have gone bad and are not appropriate for this generation. How do we refer to a “black sheep” in any other way? Are the colours of the colour wheel now-debunked due to the need to not offend anyone? It’s a tricky one to navigate as an adult, let alone a young child growing up.
So to explain my point that I feel it is ridiculous that some in the media and education are claiming that nursery rhymes have gone bad, let me tell you a story about a conversation I had with my two girls. There we were in our lounge room, my daughter was talking to me about some basketball players we used to be involved with and she’d forgotten one of their names. She remembered what number he wore but that didn’t jog my memory, she was too young to understand the concept of him being an “import player” so what she was left with at her young age & vocabulary was the colour of his skin. “He’s the cool black guy, not “***” but the other black guy, but the skinnier, funnier one”. Her older sisters input “that’s a bit racist”. Where did that come from? It leads to a very healthy discussion that night about what real racism looks like.
I read today in the Herald Sun that “Baa Baa Black Sheep” is potentially no more! Some childcare centres are choosing not to use the song in case it is considered “racist”. Political correctness has gone mad! Furthermore, they are considering changing the words “one for the little boy who lives down the lane” because they may be construed as sexist. Why do we continue to not stand up against such out of balance reactions? What is it that we are so scared of, that we remain quiet when these minority opinions are imposed on our history, traditions and children?
I love Morgan Freeman’s famous reply to the question “how are we going to get rid of racism? Stop talking about it.” When are we as a collective society going to stand up against these over the top reactions imposed on us and our kids? It is up to us as parents to bring some balance into the discussion on these things? I truly believe that in doing so we help society become more tolerant, understanding and inclusive. Furthermore, by standing up and bringing some balance to these issues it allows us to have high-quality conversations with our children about serious issues like racism and sexism and what these things are.
One thing I’m pretty clear on, referring to a “black sheep” in a song certainly isn’t racist. I don’t want to water down the conversation or seriousness of such a subject by sitting back and letting others that mean well give my kids the impression that racism is about black sheep in songs.