Carlton's team song has come under fire from an indigenous activist. Dr Stephen Hagan, who campaigned successfully to have the name of a cheese brand changed from "Coon", has criticized the song because of its original lyrics which he has labeled as racist. He has urged the club to change the melody.
The melody is taken from the 19th-century song "Lily of Laguna" with the lyrics concerning a black man in love with a Native American. The song was often performed in blackface makeup. Hagan describes the tune as “one of the most racist songs of all time”. In an interview, Hagan said he was shocked to learn from the Carlton club that past and present indigenous players supported the song, saying that the lyrics written for the team had “effectively removed the original song’s racist connotations”. Of this attitude, he said, “I’m absolutely shocked they would defend the racist theme song music rather than fight against the clearly racist origins of the melody. It doesn’t make the song any less racist that a couple of Aboriginal players who are very loyal to the club defend it.”
Of the song itself, which was reworked in the 1940s to remove some of the more racist elements, Hagan said it is "... Is one of the most racist of all time with the opening verse including the n-word and ‘coon’ and Carlton has adopted that music and propelled it into notoriety. 'Lily of Laguna' is said to be one of the great coon songs ever.” The Carlton lyrics were written by a former player in the 1930's.
Asked whether the song needed to be changed given most footy fans and players wouldn’t recognize the tune, he said, “How do you think Jewish people would feel if Collingwood’s song was based on propaganda music from the Hitler Youth?” He emphasized he did not want the club to change the lyrics but have a new melody written. When the club was contacted for a reply, a spokesperson said, “'The Lily of Laguna' lyrics are of no relevance to the lyrics that were penned in good faith for the club."
Article last changed on Monday, April 12, 2021 - 6:26 PM EDT