Nursery rhymes take us down the memory lane to our childhood days and bring smiles on our faces. But, a school song in France had just the opposite effect.
A video that features kids singing a French nursery rhyme depicting little Chinese cartoon characters has caused a furor in China. The nursery rhyme called, “Zhang, my little Chinese” was played at an unnamed kindergarten in Aubervilliers, a northeastern suburb of Paris, according to China news service.
The song included racist and stereotypical lines against Chinese people including “Zhang squats down to eat rice,” “his eyes are so small, awfully small” and “his head is swaying like a ping pong ball bouncing around.”
Le Figaro, a French daily newspaper, reported the song, which has been taught for over a decade, is not an assigned course by the education ministry.
The video was posted on Facebook by “an Asian parent” last week. The viral video sparked an online frenzy and was picked up by several anti-racism campaign groups, including SOS Racisme, a French group fighting against racism and discrimination.
Dominique Sopo, head of the group, used Facebook to express his concerns over the racist rhymes. The translation of his post on the social networking site described the rhyme as being “full of clichés, with all that it implies. It reduces the Chinese (and therefore, in the minds of many, people of Asian origin) with a few summary features.”
“We have zero tolerance for things related to national dignity,” a person wrote on China’s microblogging site, Weibo.
“If they continue to teach and spread such hatred and discrimination, the children will not grow up with healthy minds,” another user said.
However, other people said before being offended by the racist lyrics, the Chinese should consider their own prejudices.
“We refer to Japanese, Korean and Western people using racist terms. Shouldn’t we think about our own problem of discrimination as well?” one person said.
The nationwide criticism prompted France’s education authorities to put an immediate ban on the song. Mayor of Aubervilliers Meriem Derkaoui said racial discrimination in any form is not acceptable.
Les Ateliers du Préau, the French company that produced the song, has admitted the mistake and has said that it would apologize to the children and parents once they return to school after the New Year holiday. It will also withdraw the rhyme from future use, Le Figaro reported.
You can listen to the racist song below:
Thumbnail Credits: Reuters, Jason Lee