School Bans 'Jingle Bells,' Claims It Had Racist Origins - And The Backlash Was Huge

Cancel culture has claimed another victim: this time, it's the classic Christmas song "Jingle Bells."

The song was banned from Council Rock Primary School in Rochester, New York over its “questionable past,” according to the Brighton Central School District superintendent, Kevin McGowan.  

Council Rock School principal Matt Tappon says the song has connections to racism, and said the decision to ban it was based on an article by a college professor. That professor, however, says he is "shocked" over the school's decision, and does not agree with it.

According to a report in the Rochester Beacon, Tappon claimed that "Jingle Bells" might have been performed by minstrel shows in the 1800s. Minstrel performers often performed in blackface, so the ban is based on no actual evidence that the song itself is racist. The mere possibility that someone in blackface might have performed it is the basis of the ban. 

When a parent's post about it went viral on social media, the blowback went national, and the school was inundated with emails and calls complaining about the ban. The blowback was so bad, the school district had to take time during Christmas break to respond.  

McGowan responded on December 28 to outrage from parents over the decision, but refused to apologize. "We couldn’t be more proud of our staff and the work they continue to be more culturally responsive, thoughtful, and inclusive," he said.

Despite the lack of proof, McGowan insisted the song was sung by performers in blackface, and therefore, it must be banned. “The fact that ‘Jingle Bells’ was first performed in minstrel shows where white actors performed in blackface does actually matter when it comes to questions of what we use as material in school,” he said in justifying the ban.

McGowan also insisted the decision “wasn’t ‘liberalism gone amok’ or ‘cancel culture at its finest’ as some have suggested.”

Both McGowan and Tappon cited a 2017 article by Boston University professor Kyna Hamill, who speculated that "Jingle Bells" might have first been performed in 1857 by a minstrel performer in blackface.

However, even Prof. Hamill admits to being "shocked" to learn that her article was used to justify banning "Jingle Bells." 

She actually believes that the song should still be performed, but we must never forget the history in which the song originated. “My article tried to tell the story of the first performance of the song, I do not connect this to the popular Christmas tradition of singing the song now," Hamill told the Rochester Beacon. 

"The very fact of (the song's) popularity has to do (with) the very catchy melody of the song, and not to be only understood in terms of its origins in the minstrel tradition. I would say it should very much be sung and enjoyed."

Regardless, the Brighton Central School District is doubling down on the ban. Assistant Superintendent Allison Rioux told the Rochester Beacon that "Jingle Bells" refers to the bells tied to slaves, which would ring if they tried to escape.

This claim has no basis in fact, and is actually tied to online speculation and internet conspiracies.

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