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‘Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe’ Comic on MLK Holiday

 

A cartoon strip featuring a child’s counting song that was used as racist rhetoric in the past was published across the country on Monday, the day the U.S. honored the late Martin Luther King, Jr.

After NBC 7 [TV San Diego] was contacted by one of our viewers, we reached out to the author of “Pickles.”

[Brian] Crane told NBC 7 he was shocked to hear someone found the strip about a child’s bedtime prayer to be offensive.

“It never crossed my mind that anyone would see any racist overtones in it,” he continued. “The fact that it was published on Martin Luther King’s holiday was pure coincidence and no meaning was intended by it.”

Crane said he has editors look over his work and approve it before it goes to print.

Amy Lago, the Comics Editor with the Washington Post News Service & Syndicate is responsible for editing the comic strips that go out to newspapers across the country.

Lago issued the following statement: “Regrettably, I didn’t know such an appalling version of the rhyme existed. I am deeply sorry to any readers who were hurt and assure them that no offense was intended.”

[San Diego Union-Tribune] Editor and Publisher Jeff Light said the newspaper “would not have run the strip if they had seen it and been aware that it could offend.”

“There is, unfortunately, a racist variant of eeny-meeny in American history, although I’m not sure it is one that many people are familiar with. We certainly would never intend to publish a comic strip or anything else that is offensive on racial or ethic grounds,” Light said.

The full NBC 7 story can be read here.

The comic on GoComics did get comments recognizing the intolerable version,
as did some commenters on the comic’s Facebook page.

Community Comments

#1 Brad Walker
January/21/2019
@ 10:11 pm

Anybody remember the Sadie Hawkins storyline where Old Man Mose tells Tiny Yokum:

“Catch a critic by the toe,
When he hollers don’t let go.”

#2 Kip Williams
January/21/2019
@ 10:32 pm

I remember once, in the early 60s, when Alley Oop needed to push a button on a console, but didn’t know which button, so he said:

“Eeny meeny miney mo
Cracky feeny finey foe
Ama nooja, papa tooja,
Rick bick ban dough!”

My sisters and I laughed at this. Not only was it novel, but the words were funny. Right about that time, it seems, the ‘old version’ was going away anyway, and good riddance to it, along with a number of other things we took for granted because they didn’t do *US* any harm or insult.

#3 Kip Williams
January/21/2019
@ 10:36 pm

Brad, that’s from November, 1956, or page 38 of The Best of Li’l Abner. Lucky for me it was in the first place I looked. The prediction is issued on 11/7, and reaches its fruition by the 30th. It was part of the “Loverboynik” continuity.

#4 Mike Peterson
January/22/2019
@ 3:19 am

I’m old enough to remember the old version, which some of the kids still used in the early 50s. We were told it wasn’t nice and the default version soon became “tiger.”

#5 Ignatz
January/22/2019
@ 8:29 am

The offensive version isn’t that old. I remember it from my childhood, though we used “Tiger.”

The Dictionary of Folklore says that the offensive version dates from the 1850s, and speculates that it was the work of children hearing their parents discussing the Fugitive Slave Act. There are older versions referencing Napoleon.

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