There’s something just a little off-putting about this song.
I’m not First Nations, nor am I a part of any minority (aside from the Ginger one), but when I turn the tables and start thinking, “What if they were counting down Canadians? Or white people?” I feel even less at ease.
- Ten little white boys went out to dine;
- One choked his little self and then there were nine.
- Seven little Canadians chopping up sticks;
- One chopped himself in half and then there were six.
- One little Ginger boy left all alone;
- He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.
Yeah, I dunno folks. Just something not so zesty about this kinda song.
As a JET I came across teachers using the simplified “1 little, 2 little, 3 little Indians,” as per the Youtube video above. Helpful teaching tool? Well, I suppose. I suppose just as helpful as a song counting down teddy bears or snowmen.
There was a point where I couldn’t take the awkwardness anymore, and I let the Sensei know, in my best persuasive and non-confrontational Japanese and body posture. Not sure if she ever used the song again, but in her defense she had never thought of the song as racist – just cute.
What would you have done?