Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mother Goose the Racist

I was unpacking my books that I hadn't seen for a while here in the frozen tundra called Iowa when I ran across this colorful, friendly looking book that looks ever so inviting to children.  I don't remember where I got this book or how long I've had it,  It's copyright date is 1931.  Contrary to the popular belief of my nephews I AM NOT THAT OLD.

So I'm flipping through the book reading about Humpty Dumpty and Little Jack Horner when HOLY COW I found this.

We used to recite it back in the 60's. And we really used to say it complete with the N word. Before you all start beating up on me (notice the ya'll has been changed to you all now that I'm back in Iowa), we hardly understood the significance of what we were saying at age 5 or 6 especially since the metropolis of Swisher, Iowa had population of 500, all of them lily white like me.  I do remember that sometime by the late 60's, probably not coincidentally about the same time as the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King's speech, and the Black Panthers' Ten Point Program, we were informed to change the N word to tiger. 

Even so, when my book fell open to this page it shocked me.  And jarred my memory of the days when we used to recite it.  And a good reminder of how far we've come since 1931.  


  1. Whoa! Besides the obvious, what's up with "halloas"? Is that holla back in the 30's?

  2. @Cheryl-Never heard of "halloas" either...though plenty of the rest. If you recognize that as well, it must mean you're even older than Rita ;o)

    With all due respect to A.A. Milne, shouldn't they have changed it to Tigger?

    Not only is the rhyme all too familar, but we'd NEVER say things like "pass the brazil nuts..."


  4. Reminds me of when I was little and my mom would tell me to go wash my face beacause it was as black as Toby's arse....I kept asking her "who is Toby?" She would say "never mind"
    I guess that makes me as old or older than you!