The Banana Boat Song
It annoys me to no end.
Each, and every time, that I hear the refrain …. Day-o, day-ay-ay-o (the Harry Belafonte’s popularised version of The Banana Boat Song), it irritates as much as it did as when I was a youth. Now, as an adult, the source of this irritation happens during basketball games where it is blared over the sound system (programmed, no doubt and played as a means of stirring up the fans (and perhaps teams) at games.
I often wonder during these instances, did it ever occur to the ‘genius’ behind the decision to use that particular piece of music that it’s not particularly flattering to a certain segment of its fan-base?
In this day and age of hyper-sensitivity over cultural / social issues, has it ever crossed the minds of the members of this ‘fan-base’ that, when they participate in echoing the song’s refrain, they are in fact perpetuating a stereotype about a distinctive racial group as well as that of a cultural regional?
Surely, no one envisions say, Japanese, Middle-Easterners, Africans, Europeans or East Indians warbling … Come, Mr. Tally Mon, tally me banana. Daylight come and he wan’ go home as they go about their daily chores?
Instead of black- faces, how about we substitue some white-faces, red-faces, oriental-faces? Would that then make the song’s stereotyping more acceptable?
Imagine the uproar there will be if, instead, it was a rendition of an ‘Apache’ war chant or ‘Navajo rain dance? The ‘indigenious folks’ (like those other uppity folks) will, undoubtedly, be up in arms over the implied denigration of their culture!
Just because it’s a Jamaican-based ‘folk song’ doesn’t provide a pass when weighed against (current) cultural-sensitivity tests?
Look, this is not the same as saying that Reggae evokes images of Jamaicans (especially the ones that like to indulge in the burning of the ‘erbs) – as popularised by Bob Marley more than the lure of affordable, all-inclusive beach resort vacations.
Having known individuals from far-flung parts of the world (from diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds) that are fanatics when it comes to reggae music – I can attest that they incorparate the music into various aspects of their lives. So much so that there are people who may find that degree of the embrace of reggae – ‘Jamaican-style’ – culturally jarring. However, I doubt that a label of ‘denigration’ can be placed on an African, Austrailian, Japanese or Arab who makes no apology for their enjoyment of reggae music. The cultural style of attire, on the other hand is another question altogether.
He say day, he say day, he say day, he say day, he say day
Daylight come and he wan’ go home
Where is Black Lives Matter or the NAACP when it comes to highlighting the meat and potatoes issues of the North- American-Born Negroes.
BLACK IS NOT A RACE
Where are any of the innumerable SJWs who have found time to protest the use of Chief Wahoo as being a racist and stereotypical caricature of an American Indian face when used as baseball team’s logo?
Being West-Indian [Note – I didn’t say BLACK] by birth and upbringing, I don’t recall anyone who went around singing Day-o. Rather, I remember quite well the overall annoyance that Belafonte engendered (as an American of West-Indian/Jamaican descent).
If Belafonte is to be lauded with putting Jamaicans on the entertainment map with his banana boat song, then let it be said here – that would be in the same vein as Marley making Ganja analogous to Jamaica and Jamaicans.
The irony [of this rant] is that I tend to mock the ‘easily-offended-hypersenitive-politically-correct-snowflakes types’ of the world for their obvious thin-skins and quick-to-take-offence dispositions.
I’d like to think that I don’t fall into any of those navel-gazing categories; and so, this is not a call to arms of any type. A live and let live attitude has taken me this far in life.
But Lordy, lordy!!
Add some culture to the games!!