Kickass and old black Joe

Kickass, the doorstop dog, reports that the keeper and Phyllis occasionally share the songs from their distant past when one or the other of them sings a fragment of lyrics and the other then joins in to make for a duet that frequently breaks down after only a line or two, even when the song might be an old Stephen Foster number like “Beautiful Dreamer.”

It happened recently with a song that begins, “Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay,” and it ended after the chorus of “I hear their gentle voices calling, ‘Old Black Joe.”

The keeper and Phyllis were left wondering how they happened to remember parts of the old Stephen Foster song from their elementary school days; and also in pondering how the song does or does not fit into a culture that now fumbles mightily with the signs of its ignorant racist past.

Would it be a wholesale racist insult now as Martin Luther King Day approaches, for the keeper and Phyllis to try their rendition of “Old Black Joe?”

They would follow it, of course, with “Beautiful Dreamer.”



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