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"Do They Know It's Christmas" - The Most Racist Xmas Song

Updated on December 10, 2014

This song is such a trainwreck of white guilt that it needed its own article. Originally written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in 1984 to help raise money for the 1983-1985 famine in Ethiopia, they and all of BAND-AID collectively decided to just say "Africa" in the song instead of "Ethiopia," because what the hell, it's all the same anyway, right?

In the Xmas spirit of putting on blast how awful this song is (I'm citing this under the "goodwill towards humankind" clause), let's deconstruct this thing line by line, with added festive accouterments, of course.

That's right, there's no need to be afraid! We're just going to colonise you and justify our racism with Christian morality! Merry Christmas!!
That's right, there's no need to be afraid! We're just going to colonise you and justify our racism with Christian morality! Merry Christmas!! | Source

It's Christmastime; there's no need to be afraid


At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade

Hugging an African child really gets me in the Christmas spirit!
Hugging an African child really gets me in the Christmas spirit! | Source

And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy


Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime

Source

But say a prayer to pray for the other ones


At Christmastime
It's hard, but when you're having fun

The Nile is actually made entirely of the tears of white liberals.
The Nile is actually made entirely of the tears of white liberals.
Sometimes it does snow, most often in Morocco, Egypt, or South Africa.
Sometimes it does snow, most often in Morocco, Egypt, or South Africa. | Source

There's a world outside your window


And it's a world of dread and fear


Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears

And the Christmas bells that ring there


Are the clanging chimes of doom


Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you


And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime



Um
Um

The greatest gift they'll get this year is life


Oh, where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow

Awkward...
Awkward... | Source

Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

Clearly there are no trees in Africa. (This is a pic from Ethiopia.)
Clearly there are no trees in Africa. (This is a pic from Ethiopia.) | Source

Here's to you, raise a glass for ev'ryone


Here's to them, underneath that burning sun

An African Christmas tree???! (This is in South Africa.)
An African Christmas tree???! (This is in South Africa.) | Source

Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

Because everyone in North America is clearly fed. (This is in Los Angeles, U.S.A.)
Because everyone in North America is clearly fed. (This is in Los Angeles, U.S.A.) | Source

Feed the world


Feed the world


Feed the world

It's not like Christianity is the second most prevalent religion on the African continent, so let's keep going! A coloniser's job is never done!
It's not like Christianity is the second most prevalent religion on the African continent, so let's keep going! A coloniser's job is never done! | Source

Let them know it's Christmastime


Feed the world


Let them know it's Christmastime

Humour aside...

This horrid song refers to Africa as though it were a monolithic desert of abject poverty, which it is not. Africa is a MASSIVE CONTINENT with myriad cultures, languages, and socioeconomic classes, just like anywhere else in the world.

What Africa sure as hell is not, though, is the backdrop for our white guilt and our white saviour complexes. So fellow white people, please shut it about "saving Africa." Do we live in Africa? No. Have we even been to Africa? Again, for 90% of us, no. So how could we possibly know how to help any African community if we know nothing about their culture, economy, or needs?

To truly help in a non-selfish way, we need to research where and whom in Africa needs aid, and then contribute directly to that community or project.

If you want to give meaningful aid to people in Africa or anywhere else in the word, some good options are PLAN Canada, PLAN International, and Kiva, a fantastic site which fundraises micro loans for people in less privileged countries to start or grow their small businesses!

What we should NEVER do, though, is write a grossly ignorant pity song referring to Africa as a single country.

For reference, here are the writers of "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

Left: Bob Geldof; Right: Midge Ure. Yup, white men. From the UK, no less.
Left: Bob Geldof; Right: Midge Ure. Yup, white men. From the UK, no less.

Conclusion:

  • Don't listen to "Do They Know It's Christmas"
  • Don't make covers of "Do They Know It's Christmas"
  • Tell the people around you how awful it is when it comes on the radio
  • WHITE PEOPLE NEED TO STOP WRITING ABOUT AFRICA
  • AFRICA IS NOT A COUNTRY - IT IS A CONTINENT

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