The Rugby Football Union (RFU) announced it would review the singing of ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’, which has been adopted by fans at Twickenham, the home of England rugby, as an unofficial hymn that can be heard being bellowed out before and during games.
However, the RFU took issue with it being sung by those “who have no awareness of its origins or sensitivities” and are seeking to educate those who choose to air its lyrics at games.
The song dates back to 19th century USA and was written by enslaved man William Wallis and his wife Minerva, and its composition is said to reflect life in the slavery and oppression of that era.
UK independent rapper, fitness author and former university rugby player Zuby Udezue claims the demand to see racism in songs and a host of other seemingly innocuous television programmes, brands and products, is in fact “false outrage”.
“Look, none of this stuff was offensive until three weeks ago,” Zuby told RT Sport. “This is the thing, right? So whether you’re talking about Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, or you’re talking about Paw Patrol, or Uncle Ben’s rice or Aunt Jemima pancake syrup, all of these things, all these TV shows now that they’re editing and canceling. Nobody was upset by this stuff a month ago.
“So I think people are creating false outrage. People are wanting to, I don’t know, it feels like the demand for racism outstrips the supply. You know, people are looking for it in places where you’re trying to just make things racist because you kind of want to.”
The RFU are also reviewing merchandise that may use the lyrics, but Zuby insists the view that the song would somehow glorify slavery and be detached from its original meaning is a “dumb interpretation” of why it is popular, preferring the method of polling those of the demographic that could be the target of any offense.
“You’ve created this narrative that we live in this horrible, evil, racist society,” he said. “And so you’re now going after things that are that are innocent and innocuous right? And people aren’t singing that song at rugby matches, because they are trying to glorify slavery or suggest that slavery you know, like it’s such a dumb interpretation. It’s such a stupid take.
“And I think everyone knows that that’s why I think it’s disingenuous. I don’t think it’s honest. I don’t think people are like, okay, we genuinely believe that this is going on. And you know, how many black people have even been asked about this right?