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Is Baa Ba Black Sheep a Racist Nursery Rhyme?

  1. clivewilliams profile image84
    clivewilliamsposted 2 years ago

    Is Baa Ba Black Sheep a Racist Nursery Rhyme?

  2. Ericdierker profile image53
    Ericdierkerposted 2 years ago

    Interesting concept. "a person who believes that a particular race is superior to another." Personally I prefer a mixed wool. And I like it when they die it. I come from a place where the Native people raise sheep and weave beautiful blankets and rugs. Navajo and Hopi mainly. So today does anyone think the song is not about sharing. Do they really dive into the history about slavery maybe being a part of the song? Does it even matter?
    They do a verse for Black, Brown and White. In the rhyme or song it is about giving 1 bag to a master, one bag to a lady and one bag basically being given away. So it teaches sharing.
    If I were black I would protest the song and ban any book with it in it from schools and libraries, because of what it could have meant in the 1700's

  3. janshares profile image96
    jansharesposted 2 years ago

    Hmm. Let's see: "Bah bah black sheep have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full. One for the master and one for the mame, and one for the little boy who lives down the lane. Bah bah black sheep have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full." Interesting. No, not really. It seems to be more about commerce than racism. I guess if you focus on they way the man addresses the "black sheep" (the slave boy) you might read it as such.

    1. clivewilliams profile image84
      clivewilliamsposted 2 years agoin reply to this

      one for the MASTER!, one for the dame, one for the little girl that lives down the lane. Only slaves had masters

  4. profile image0
    LoliHeyposted 2 years ago

    No, but now that you mentioned it, it probably won't be long until protesters start whining that it's racist.  They're already trying to change the term Masters Degree because they think it refers to slavery.  Smh

  5. WordCrafter09 profile image78
    WordCrafter09posted 2 years ago

    Just taking at it a face value (as I always have, if I spent any time thinking about it all since I've been a grown-up), and not knowing anything about the context/circumstances within which it was written....   I'd say "no".  I guess I always just kind of associated "master" with pets.  There was a time when many people referred to someone who, say, had a dog for a pet.  (These days more people say, "owner", I think - but I don't like that either because I never saw myself as "owning" my pets, only being their friend; but I digress, don't I.....).

    Anyway, I'd always heard the nursery rhyme as "one for the master and one for the dame....and one for the little girl that lives down the lane".  Having been a little girl who read or saw that nursery rhyme, I just thought about the "little girl who lives down the lane" and kind of just assumed either that the sheep was a pet or else that the other two folks were, yes, wealthy in some ways.  It was, to me, a happier nursery rhyme than, say, "cut off their tails with a carving knife" or the old lady who whipped her kids and put them to the bed.

    Again not that I thought about it at all much back then, but I guess I was seeing "black" as nothing more than, say, a black cat versus an orange one versus any other pet-color.

    If someone's going to start to nit-pik over nursery rhymes then one might ask why the little girl down the lane was getting a bag of wool.  Did someone not care if a little boy had wool to keep warm, or did someone think the little girl was supposed to be the one doing the wool spinning and knitting?

    I'm not a fan of nursery rhymes in general, and I suppose I can see how someone might consider the one in question "racist".  I've always been more concerned about the child abuse and animal cruelty (to sightless mice).  Either take them with a grain of salt or don't take them at all.  They aren't worth making an issue of, and slavery isn't something that nursery-rhyme aged kids should even have in their heads at all.

    My mother read them to me and she'd just point out what sillliness they were.  There's something to be said for that too.   hmm

    I pretty much didn't read too many nursery rhymes to my kids, mostly because I found so many with violent imagery

  6. Venkatachari M profile image44
    Venkatachari Mposted 2 years ago

    No, it is not racist. And, it is addressing the sheep, not a human. Only to identify the sheep, which must have been blackish in colour. Just like we address our own children, with their special features. It is a pet name used in love and affection.

    1. clivewilliams profile image84
      clivewilliamsposted 2 years agoin reply to this

      Sometimes things are deeper than that

  7. manatita44 profile image82
    manatita44posted 2 years ago

    Sometimes things are deeper than that, you say Clive. They are, because we give them meaning. When I learnt that rhyme many years ago, it was so good for children! Everyone was cheerful and happy and cute. We lived in the Heart. I have to say that my mind became restless, active and agitated only in the West and not at home in the Caribbean.

    Today I know of 'bulllying' 'road-rage' 'political correctness' and a few more.

    A Sufi gave a talk on his relationship with God last night and then invited questions. There were many. One guy wanted to know about the significance of the upward and downward turning of the hands. The Sufi explained that as individuals were different, there were different interpretations of the hand movements, but in his case, he was really concerned with his relationship with Allah.

    Towards the end, the questioner returned, and asked if he could be allowed to volunteer an explanation for the hand movements. The speaker smiled and sat down, then said "Go ahead." So the questioner went into a very long drawn out explanation of what the hand movements meant, and almost everyone in the room supported him.

    The Sufi, once again, said that he, the questioner, was right; that people approached this according to their own level of understanding. He repeated that in his case, all he wanted to do was to love Allah, and again in the deep state of ecstasy, hands and their meanings become insignificant. Very few understood what he was trying to say.

    So herein lies the problem. When the mind is too active, the Heart cannot come to the fore. We have forgotten the childlike Heart, the way of sweetness and joy. It is we ourselves that would speak of bettering the world, but we have forgotten how to do this.

    Is Baa Ba Black Sheep a racist rhyme? I entered a discussion on God's mercy very recently, and for my part in the discussion, I quoted Shakespeare's 'The quality of mercy is not strained .....' Within two or three minutes, the whole group was talking about Jews and anti-semitism. Poor me, what do I know about these things?

    The Heart ...the Heart ... the childlike Heart ...O my Heart, Come!

    1. clivewilliams profile image84
      clivewilliamsposted 2 years agoin reply to this

      it is not me/we who give them reason. It is the meaning they were given from the beginning.

    2. manatita44 profile image82
      manatita44posted 2 years agoin reply to this

      It is like saying do guns kill or people kill. Actions by themselves have no power, unless the power is given or granted by someone or something else. Some people here are saying that they never saw it this way as children. They lived in their heart

  8. Michaela Osiecki profile image79
    Michaela Osieckiposted 2 years ago

    I think we'd have to look at the origin of the nursery rhyme - the era it comes from, the region, and what was happening in that place/time.

    I mean, if this rhyme comes from, say, 1700s Scotland - probably not intentionally racist or with slave connotations. However, if this is something little white kids in rural Louisiana made up during the civil war era....it probably does have relations to race and slavery.

    But I honestly don't know the origin of the nursery rhyme, so I couldn't tell you.

    1. clivewilliams profile image84
      clivewilliamsposted 2 years agoin reply to this


  9. tamarawilhite profile image92
    tamarawilhiteposted 2 years ago

    The rhyme dates back a couple centuries when Muslims raiding Europe for slaves was common but blacks held as slaves by whites was rare.

    It is actually a political commentary about having to pay all the taxes (wool) to all the different authorities and having nothing left.

    1. clivewilliams profile image84
      clivewilliamsposted 2 years agoin reply to this

      interesting answer