Yankees Pull Kate Smith Tape Amid Racism Claims

Lula Sharp
April 21, 2019

Singers Lauren Hart and Kate Smith are seen on the screen before Game Six of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center on June 9, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Smith, who died in 1986, was also questioned for promoting a "Mammy Doll" in 1939, which was based on a caricature of a black woman reminiscent of fictional character Aunt Jemima, which a PepsiCo subsidiary used to market pancake mix, syrup, and other breakfast foods.

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The Philadelphia Flyers are covering a statue of singer Kate Smith outside their arena, following the New York Yankees in cutting ties and looking into allegations of racism against the 1930s star with a popular recording of "God Bless America".

'We have recently become aware that several songs performed by Kate Smith contain offensive lyrics that do not reflect our values as an organization, ' a Flyers spokesman said in a statement to the Daily Mail.

"The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously", the statement explained.

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In pulling the Smith recording, the Yankees claimed to be "erring on the side of sensitivity". The team has yet to publicly comment on the Yankees' decision to stop playing her rendition during games.

The same can not be said for "Pickaninny Heaven", which Smith sings alone.

The Flyers historical attachment to Smith's rendition dates back to 1969.

According to the Daily News, Smith was famous before and during WWII and known for songs like "Pickaninny Heaven" and "That's Why Darkies Were Born", which both feature controversial lyrics and "startlingly racist" imagery. Even if it were true that Kate Smith recorded a "racist" song by the standards of 80 years later-the other "questionable" song was part of a 1933 movie-that is an absurd reason to ban "God Bless America". They used an organ version of the song on Wednesday and Thursday. Smith's 1939 version of "God Bless America" had been in the rotation at Yankee Stadium since the team began regularly playing the song following the September 11 attacks in 2001.

The Yankees have been playing Smith's "God Bless America" since 2001, but no longer.

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