What do square dancing, ice cream trucks and cartoons have in common? A history of racism, according to Samantha Bee’s “Racist Roadshow.”
On Wednesday’s episode of “Full Frontal,” Bee and her team decided that the best way to celebrate Black History Month is to remind us that racism is actually “lurking where you least expect it.”
“So instead of picking one thing, we’re going to tell you about how everything you see or use or enjoy is racist,” said Bee.
First up on the chopping block was the history of teaching square dancing at school.
It turns out “square dancing isn’t just the whitest thing you ever darn saw, it’s actually the official dance of white supremacy,” said Bee.
Why? Because the only reason square dancing is taught to school kids in P.E. classes is a racist conspiracy theory.
“Industrialist Henry Ford hated jazz,” explained Bee. “He thought it was a Jewish conspiracy to use black music to get good white people into booze, cigarettes and sex.”
Thanks to Ford’s influence — and investment in square dancing tutorials and events — the “square dancing jazz prevention program” made its way to public schools. “And no white person ever drank, smoked or had sex ever again,” said Bee.
But the racist history behind square dancing was perhaps the least surprising reveal of the “Racist Roadshow.”
That catchy little jingle most people recognize from ice cream trucks actually has such a racist title it can’t be spelled out in this family-friendly publication. And let’s not get started on the lyrics.
Bee shared that “the song was written by Harry C. Browne, who took the music from ‘Turkey in the Straw,’ added racist lyrics and had a hugely popular minstrel hit on his hands.”
Also taking cues from the racist minstrel shows of America’s past? Cartoons.
“The costumes, character design and extreme violence without consequences that you still see in cartoons are holdovers from black-face minstrelsy,” explained Bee.
“And you thought the ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot ruined your childhood,” Bee quipped.
Watch the segment above.