Today, I was interviewed by Megan Rivers of ABC News 4 concerning a petition I made about getting rid of Square Dancing in South Carolina. Not get rid of it per se, rather, change our state folk dance from that to the Wobble. I know it sounds silly but it will all make sense. Just keep reading...
Per the South Carolina State House website, the Square Dance is designated as the official State Folk Dance (set by Act Number 329 of 1994). The problem with that is two-fold:
- Very few South Carolinians actually know how to Square Dance and
- The proliferation of the Square Dance in the United States has very overt racist and antisemitic origins.
American businessman Henry Ford (yes, the namesake of the company that makes awesome pickup trucks) was a known white supremacist and anti-Semite. In the 1920s, Ford published and disseminated a series of booklets entitled "The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem". Henry Ford hated jazz music and believed the musical art form was created by Jewish people (false!) as a part of their attempt to take over the world. Don't believe me? Well, in volume three of his "International Jew" series he wrote:
"Many people have wondered whence come the waves upon waves of musical slush that invade decent homes and set the young people of this generation imitating the drivel of morons. Popular music is a Jewish monopoly. Jazz is a Jewish creation. The mush, slush, the sly suggestion, the abandoned sensuousness of sliding notes, are of Jewish origin.”
Ford felt that the music was a gateway to all kinds of sins and, thus, used his financial wherewithal to try and stomp the art form out. That's where Square Dancing comes into play.
In 1926, Ford published an instruction manual for aspiring square dancing instructors titled “Good Morning: After a Sleep of Twenty-Five Years, Old-Fashioned Dancing is Being Revived by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford.” He also personally funded the creation of Square Dancing clubs all around the nation. And because of his influence, by 1928, almost half of schools in America were teaching Square Dancing. Admit it, almost everyone you know (including yourself) learned how to Square Dance in P.E. class. Well, Mr. Ford was the reason why!
That influence traveled from schools to statehouses all across the US; as of today, approximately 24 states have listed as either its official state dance or its official folk dance--including South Carolina.
To be fair, there is nothing especially heinous about Square Dancing. But the fact that its widespread popularity was only achieved because a really rich, really racist person thought it would help uphold "American" values is super disturbing.
We no longer want the Palmetto State to be associated with this nefarious activity and ask that our State legislators replace it with a dance that is both easier to perform and inclusive for all: the Wobble.
WHY THE WOBBLE?
The Wobble was selected because it is a perfect example of intersectionality through dance. It can be performed by anyone regardless of their class, race, sexual orientation, sexual identification, age, disability, ability to stay on rhythm, or gender.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE WOBBLE!
The Wobble is our preferred dance of choice to replace Square Dancing, however, we are open to using the following dances as well:
- The Electric Slide
- The Cupid Shuffle
Both dances meet our requirement of "intersectionality through dance" meaning they can be performed by almost anyone regardless of their class, race, sexual orientation, sexual identification, age, disability, ability to stay on rhythm, or gender.
Show our elected officials that we want to be represented by a dance that can be used to intertwine all South Carolinians in a way that Square Dancing cannot. Especially when you consider its less than inclusive origins.
JOIN THE CAUSE!
Sign the petition today and let's dance our way to a more inclusive Palmetto State!