So. Last night, playing Bananagrams with some friends, I laid down the word “jigger,” thinking of the bartending unit of measure. My competitors were aghast; they knew it only as a racial epithet, which was (unpleasant!) news to me. A dictionary confirmed the bartending term— as well as a traditional fishing hook, a parasitic flea and the aftmost mast on a four-masted sailing vessel— but not the slur. It took the Internet to confirm their definition but, yup, I’m sad to say that the story checks out.

Here’s the coda: less than five minutes after the whole Bananagrams bang-up, somebody started singing “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” to themselves, leading me to remark “Now there’s something unambiguously racist.” It resolved that, while some folks had vague memories of a Br’er Rabbit movie, nobody else knew Song of the South for the racially coded 1940s cesspool it is. Disney executives themselves have even referred to it as “antiquated” and “fairly offensive” in explaining why it’s never been— and probably never will be— released to the United States home video market.

James Baskett was awarded an Honorary Academy Award for playing Uncle Remus— the first Oscar for an African-American man. He wasn’t able to attend the festivities for the film’s premiere since it took place in then-segregated Atlanta.

I tried really hard to find a halfway decent compilation of supposed Disney subliminal messaging but they all have irritating overlong exposition or Panic at the Disco soundtracks added so, um, here’s this classic instead.

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