I probably hang out with too many woke people, where we debate about the language of violence and the colonial gaze; about de-colonizing our minds; whether black lives matter or all lives matter; and how we feel about white privilege, white fragility, and antiracism. What it means to have culturally safe spaces, and whether snowflakes should be left alone, scolded into toughness, or treated with tenderness and compassion. Whether racial diversity workshops do more good than harm. And so forth.
While I’ve educated myself on these topics to some extent, and worked out my own feelings and positions, sometimes worlds collide. And that is what happened when I heard this song. My 15-year old self who had loved Zeppelin and played it all the time, vs my 56 year old self.
I was listening to this favorite song after a long break of not hearing it or thinking much about it …and wondered “If I played this song for fun in front of this or that group of people, would they be offended?”
Think about it. Certain songs like “Dixieland” have now become somewhat radioactive. Not allowed to sing it, or even hum the tune. I wouldn’t sing that at a street protest, for example. Or in certain corporate environments. Corporations like LinkedIn or Google think that censoring speech is the key to creating an inclusive environment (it isn’t, you need a lot more than that) but it’s hyper-conscious in some respects.
A lot of recent revisionist history is worth reading, or watching, IMO. Can’t say if I agree with this person or that one unless I do the work, so I keep at it. Ultimately I have to base my actions on what I believe is right.
On a street or personal level, I have at times made small mistakes that blew up in my face. In my part of the world (Oakland, CA) microaggressions are treated as a real and serious thing, and ignorance is not an acceptable excuse. We’ve also seen what happens when people get flustered, they act out it very foolish ways, and how easily communications can go awry if people do not have strong rapport or commonality. I can’t afford to ignore it, for the sake of my own personal safety and getting along with my neighbors.
One reason I posed this question on SDMB is that people are more skeptical but also more insightful and thoughtful. The question was not whether The Immigrant Song was racist. It was whether it was racist to enjoy it, to like it. So it was kind of a wallowing white-guilt type of question. I appreciate the feedback.
I started reading up on the Vikings a little more, too, since I know very little about them. Big debate whether they were cuddly or not-cuddly. (Probably not-cuddly, but they weren’t alone in that.) Just ask “Were Vikings peaceful” and see what comes up.