Several black leaders spoke out against an English rugby team using the slave song “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” as a chant, according to Monday reports.
Cornell Brooks, the NAACP president, called the rugby team’s use of the song “a slap in the face to the history of slavery,” reports CNN.
“Rugby, as with any sport, has a certain universal appeal and everyone — all the fans — should be comfortable and enjoy the experience. Listening to a song about slavery on a rugby field is just an insulting and disturbing experience,” Brooks went on.
England’s rugby union team has used the “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” at their games for the past 30 years. The song, sung by American slaves, include the lyrics, “I looked over Jordan, what do I see, Coming for to carry me home. A band of angels coming after me, Coming for to carry me home.”
Others have accused the team of “cultural appropriation” for using the song.
“Such cross-cultural appropriations of U.S. slave songs betray a total lack of understanding of the historical context in which those songs were created by the American slave,” Josephine Wright, a music professor at the College of Wooster, previously said.
Team Captain Dylan Hartley brushed off the complaints, saying the song makes the team and its fans feel better.
“To us it’s the noise, the sheer atmosphere it generates and the feelgood factor it gives Twickenham,” Hartley said.
British Parliament member Lord Herman Ouseley, agreed with Brooks, calling the decision a show of “ignorance, lack of sensitivity and arrogance.”
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