“That’s Why D**kies Were Born” by Kate Smith

“That’s Why D**kies Were Born” is the title of a very controversial song recorded by the iconic American singer Kate Smith in 1931. This song, which happens to be one of the biggest hits of Smith’s career, have lyrics that are rife with racial stereotypes and racist statements.

According to the song’s lyrics, the Black people of the world were born to do nothing but work as slaves and sing. The lyrics state that in creating man, God knew that someone had “to slave and be able to sing”, and that’s why He put Black people on planet Earth. He put them on Earth so they could do these things. If this isn’t highly racist, then we don’t know what qualifies as racist!

Lyrics of "That's Why D**kies" Were Born

While many have strongly condemned the song as purely racist, others see it differently. According to those that see it differently, the song is more of paying homage to African Americans than it is insulting. According to them, if it this song were racist, actor, singer and political activist, Paul Robeson (who was an African American) would have not recorded it.

But did Robeson actually record a cover version of “That’s Why D**kies Were Born”?

Yes, he actually did. He recorded his own version of the song in 1931.

If this song is indeed racist as some claim it is, then the million dollar question is this: why did Paul Robeson (a well known African American) record it?

The answer some people give to the above question is that the song is a satire. Owing to this, they say it actually speaks against racism and not the other way round.

But what do you think? Do you think “That’s Why D**kies Were Born” is satirical and a protest anthem against racism? Or do you think is nothing short of purely racist?

NOTE: Owing to the controversy surrounding this song, we have decided not to put the song’s audio on our platform.

5 Responses

  1. Helen Steiner says:

    Kate Smith was a Great singer I remember her singing. God Bless America. I was in First grade 1935.

  2. Guy says:

    Hey, good news: You don’t know what qualifies as racist.

  3. Michelle says:

    I heard the full lyrics and do not deem it as racist instead I understand it as a reference to how unfair life was at that time. I think it is a shame the full song can not be heard on this site for others to pass comment and by doing so suggests that the creators of this site believe it to have negative connotations. The missing lyrics at the beginning reference inequality as can be heard on the video through internet searches. Including my own, too many assumptions are made and as time past we should be focusing on the future and inclusivity for all not picking at the past or those who cannot defend themselves.

  4. Joe Pearce says:

    Not having this song on this site is downright ridiculous. Read the lyrics. The song practically cries out as a lament for the black condition over the whole of time. It was not recorded as a ‘cover’ by Paul Robeson. The word ‘cover’ for other recordings of a song was unknown in 1931. Robeson, arguably the most famous black actor and singer of his day, and a leading and very controversial civil rights advocate, would never have recorded a piece he thought in any way insulting or detrimental to the black race. He not only recorded it, but sang it in concert. It was written by Brown and Henderson for a
    Broadway show, and sung in it by concert baritone Everett Marshall. It was also sung on the radio back in those days by singers as distinguished as Nelson Eddy and Igor Gorin. Obviously (again, read the lyrics), it was intended as a tribute to the unhappy history of blacks rather than as any kind of insult to them. Robeson would have understood this better than just about anyone. It is an insult to human intelligence that the New York Yankees removed an image of Kate Smith and also discontinued playing her famous recording of “God Bless America” during the ‘seventh inning stretch’ because of complaints about her having recorded this song, the complaints mostly from ignoramuses who prefer to erase history rather than learn about it and benefit from it.

  5. Deliusfan says:

    Even USA Today presented the song as a “minor hit”, not the “major hit” like everyone in dogpile mode is asserting, and I quote below:

    “Smith was less than two years into her partnership with Collins when she recorded “That’s Why Darkies Were Born” in 1931, when she was 24. Todd Decker, a professor of musicology and American culture studies at Washington University in St. Louis, said the song was first written for Broadway and sung by Everett Marshall, a white baritone who performed it in blackface. It became a “minor hit” for Smith in the early 1930s, Decker said.”

    She was 24 years old. I want everyone to realize that. She wasn’t 40 and had been professional for 10 plus years. She was a BABY in the music business. Many singers sing til they die (look at Pavarotti, or Tony Bennett), so they start later in their life than, say, a concert pianist or violinist. The article also states her manager picked ALL her songs; she entrusted her career and sound to him. She had been a nobody, and struggled with her weight so she didn’t have the sex appeal that get many careers in show business started. If that were you, would you turn down anything that young in your career? And if other peer singers are singing comparable material? No you would not, you wouldn’t risk the career. It was only a minor hit for her. And it wasn’t anything like Al Jolson singing “Mammy”, the defining song of his career.

    This is just more gotcha politics. Looking for any reason to vilify or destroy otherwise decent, not even trying to say saintly, people. But all saints are sinners too; look close enough and you’ll find all the glaring flaws. I just recommend you pull that log out of your own eye before removing the speck from someone else’s eye.

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