Forums (
-   Transracial Adoption (
-   -   5 Little Monkeys - racist? (

ChromaKelly 09-19-2010 01:56 PM

5 Little Monkeys - racist?
My girls are in K, and today I heard one of them singing 5 Little Monkeys, not the jumping on the bed one, but a version with them sitting in a tree and an alligator eating them. I hadn't heard that one before (here's a link to the words if you haven't either) 5 Little Monkeys Craft Ideas
It just didn't sound "right" to me, KWIM? I only recently learned of the alligator bait thing, which after I looked that up, I was totally disgusted, I seriously felt sick. Here's a good link on that, BTW.

I'm not real crazy about 5 Little Monkeys jumping on a bed anyway (I remember hearing it with "N" as a kid), but this alligator one just reeks of having a racist past. In fact, if you look at the link about alligator bait, one of the pictures has five AA boys sitting in a tree, with an alligator underneath. I'm sure the vast majority of the people repeating this rhyme have no idea it has any racist roots. So, do I just let it go, or educate people? Even though I can't be 100% certain.

blminter 09-19-2010 03:08 PM

i had no idea of the history. i'm sure none of my child's daycare workers do/did either. 90% of whom happen to be AA.

bluebonnet_72 09-19-2010 03:40 PM

I've done this rhyme with children for years. We have a book that has it. The book shows monkeys. I dreamed of it being anything but monkeys. The monkeys and the alligator, or crocodile depending on whose doing it, teach children to count, subtract, and control their voices. It is helpful in transitions between activities.
I've seen tons of books showing the monkeys jumping on the bed rhyme and all of them show monkeys. I heard this a million times growing up and I always thought it was a warning that jumping on the bed (a favorite activity of my sister and I) was dangerous.
Sometimes a monkey is just a monkey.

Cjmeck 09-19-2010 04:55 PM

I'm pretty sure this is just about monkeys. My kids love the story (we actually have 2 different books) and it never occurred to me to be anything except a rhyming/counting book that involved animals.

edited...Okay, so I clicked on the links and OMG, about the alligator bait. I am just speechless and I so hope it isn't true; but it would not surprise me if it is. I'd be very interested if someone (beyond internet research) can validate this from a historian. Absolutely horrific.

loveajax 09-19-2010 05:14 PM

People can be ugly...that doesn't mean loving monkeys, having monkey stories read to your child, or having your kid wear monkey pajamas, etc. can change that.

My dd's nursery is a curious george theme. She loves monkeys. If someone thinks I should "shield" her from monkeys, I personally think....ok. Doesn't work for me. Every parent is entitled to feel differently. If anyone insinuated my dd was a "monkey" because she is black, I'd punch them (seriously). Btw, I do understand the historical significance (which makes me ill). Just think how parents deal with it is up to them.

ChromaKelly 09-19-2010 05:23 PM

I Googled "5 Little Monkeys + racist", and couldn't find anything conclusive, besides other people wondering about it. I don't know... hearing the alligator version after having just learned of the alligator bait thing just sits so wrong with me. I'm betting that the "jumping on the bed" version was innocent, but some people turned it into "N" (don't know if anyone else heard that, maybe it was just something going around my school as a young child).

I also had no idea about Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe until a couple years ago.

MB80sgirl 09-19-2010 05:23 PM

We have the book about the monkeys jumping on the bed & Nicole has a set of monkey pajamas. I'm pretty sure the rhyme is just about monkeys, & I know little kids love it. I've never heard the one with Mr. Alligator until I looked at the link. I really don't think you have to worry about it being racist, especially if your kids like it.

mysisterstalksme 09-19-2010 06:13 PM

Because we just try to avoid a lot of extra monkey stuff, I sing Five Little Ducks instead. For me it's another one that's easy to avoid so I do...if my kids loved monkeys, I would sing it...I wouldn't be offended if someone else was singing it to them though.

MamaS 09-19-2010 06:16 PM

So "Eeny-Meany-Miney-Mo" would be racist too, even if you used "monkey"?

mysisterstalksme 09-19-2010 06:46 PM


Originally Posted by MamaS
So "Eeny-Meany-Miney-Mo" would be racist too, even if you used "monkey"?

Is there a monkey in that rhyme? I learned it with "Tiger" I think?

arkansas parent 09-19-2010 07:09 PM


Originally Posted by aclee
Is there a monkey in that rhyme? I learned it with "Tiger" I think?

When I was a kid everyone said , catch a "N" by the toe. I had no clue "N" was a negative word, until I was around 9-10yrs. Since then I have said "tiger".

ChromaKelly 09-19-2010 08:14 PM

Just to clarify, I'm not like, "everything with a monkey in it is racist". I'm mainly talking about the version of 5 Little Monkeys that goes -

Five little monkeys swinging in the tree
teasing Mr. Alligator can’t catch me….can’t catch me
along came Mr. Alligator quiet as can be
and snapped that monkey out that tree

It's the combo of monkeys plus being eaten by an alligator that's tweaking with me. Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone knew whether or not this was based on the alligator bait thing.

MB80sgirl 09-19-2010 08:26 PM

I learned it with tiger too. I've also heard it with "mousie."

chloroxsis 09-19-2010 08:37 PM

This is a hard question. It all matters on what the singer intended. I think let the innocent kids sing.

Once I got a new bed, and it was higher than my previous bed. I actually fell out of the bed. I told a coworker, and she laughed. She started singing "5 Little Monkyes." I thought it was appropriate. Then about an hour later, she said she hoped I wasn't offended. I'm AA and she is CC. I wasn't and she took the cuteness out of that song for me.

SupaModel 09-19-2010 08:44 PM

Ok i'm AA and grew up hearing that song and never not once thought about it as racist undertones. I honestly still don't see it as that. Just my 2 cents :D

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 02:02 PM.

Powered by vBulletin Version 3.5.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.0.0 RC4-->

Adoption Zone