Kyna Hamill, a theater history professor at Boston University who has spent the last few years researching the history of “Jingle Bells,” and claims the classic Christmas carol is a “racist song” and she is urging people to shun the jaunty tune.
Hamill recently told the Boston Globe that the song has a “secret” racist past that has been “systematically” hidden from Americans as they celebrate the Christmas season.
“The history of the song has remained hidden behind its local and season affection,” Hamill told the paper. She continued saying the song’s “blackface and racist origins have been subtly and systematically removed from its history.”
She claims that her study of the history of the song has proved that the song was made to satirize how black people reacted to winter activities such as sleigh riding. The comedy routine was to portray blacks as “behaving foolishly, grotesquely, and incompetently” in unfamiliar situations. The song was first performed in blackface at a minstrel show.
The professor stated that the author, James Lord Pierpont (1822–1893), was the son of a New England abolitionist. Pierpont reportedly joined the Confederate army in spite of this father.
With her research in hand, the professor is urging the town of Medford, Massachusetts, the birthplace of the song, to drop its annual celebration and forever shun the “racist” song going forward.
Jingle Bells has over 19,000 recordings and is out of copyright, which is why it’s heard on countless radio stations and Christmas albums.