EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is about a virulently racist song. Read no further if you wish to avoid racist imagery and slurs.
“Nigger Love A Watermelon Ha! Ha! Ha!” merits the distinction of the most racist song title in America. Released in March 1916 by Columbia Records, it was written by actor Harry C. Browne and played on the familiar depiction of black people as mindless beasts of burden greedily devouring slices of watermelon.
I came across this gem while researching racial stereotypes. I was a bit conflicted on whether the song warranted a listen. Admittedly, though, beneath my righteous indignation, I was rather curious about how century-old, overt racism sounded and slightly amused by the farcical title. When I started the song, the music that tumbled from the speakers was that of the ever-recognizable jingle of the . (For the record, not all ice cream trucks play this same song, but a great many of them do.)
As quickly as it began, the music paused, and this call-and-response ensued:
Browne: “You niggers quit throwin’ them bones and come down and get your ice cream!”
Black men (incredulously): “Ice Cream?!?”
Browne: “Yes, ice cream! Colored man’s ice cream: WATERMELON!!”
My mouth dropped. The music immediately resumed and so did the racism. I soon realized that the ice cream truck song was forever ruined for me, especially once the chorus began:
Nigger love a watermelon ha ha, ha ha!
Read more: NPR