Major League Baseball —and in particular the New York Yankees— are the latest sports organization taking a stance against racial discrimination.
As per a report from The New York Daily News, the team pulled Kate Smith’s 1939 rendition of “God Bless America” from their seventh-inning routine. The reason for the sudden cancellation stems from the singer’s racially-charged songs, “Pickininny Heaven”, which aims at “colored children” having fantasies of an amazing place of “great, big watermelons,” and “That’s Why Darkies Were Born”. Smith also endorsed the “Mammy Doll” in 1939, a racially-offensive caricature of black women inspired by Aunt Jemima.
The Yankees took action without hesitation and the club spokesman sent a statement regarding the claims:
“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 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.”
Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America” has been used primarily by the Yankees following the attacks on 9/11. It has since been replaced with different variations of the song and the organization has considered adding live performances for the seventh-inning experience instead. The NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers are also dropping the song from their rotation, which played before their games.
The Philadelphia Flyers took a stand alongside the Yanks Friday, distancing themselves from Smith by taking her famed rendition of “God Bless America” out of their playlist and also covered a bronze statue of the singer near their arena.
The singer performed it at the team’s old arena, the Spectrum, before the Flyers won the first of their two Stanley Cup titles in 1974. Smith passed away at the age of 79 in 1986.