So I was just googling, minding my own business, when I stumbled on a news that someone wants to ban famous ‘God Bless America’ rendition over singer’s Kate Smith racist past. I was like “who is Kate Smith”?
Call me illiterate, I am. I know the song, but didn’t know who is the singer, and frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
Anyway, I found out that the Yankees stopped playing her ‘God Bless America’ because she was embroiled in controversy after blatantly racist songs she sang in the 1930s, including “That’s Why Darkies Were Born”, that sings how “someone had to pick the cotton… that’s why darkies were born”.
I remembered one debate we had in college, and I was firmly against dismissing the song because of the author, and for making the distinction between the author and his/her work.
For example I like the songs by Johnny Cash, even though he was cheating on his wife, and his drug problem was far worse than many people thought – and led to him crashing cars and cancelling entire tours and taking over 100 pills a day.
But his song “One” helped me get through a tough time in my life, and although I do not like him as a person with all of his demons, I must say admire his work.
I don’t have any intention to dismiss his song just because I personally don’t hold him in high regard as a person.
After all, we are all flawed.
I firmly believe that when an artist creates a work of art, an artist’s work should have value in its own right, no matter what sort of life the artist led, and even if they have damaged or hurt others.