82nd Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Social media lit up Wednesday evening with complaints about former Hootie & the Blowfish lead singer Darius Rucker performing “White Christmas” at the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at New York City’s Rockefeller Square. Some activists had threatened to attack the ceremony after a grand jury declined to indict a New York police officer in the death of unarmed Eric Garner during a confrontation over cigarette sales in July.
The ceremony went ahead under police protection, and Rucker performed “White Christmas,” a classic written by a Jewish immigrant, Irving Berlin. The song refers to snow, not to race, in recalling a traditional Christmas scene.
Critics, however, believed that the mere reference to the color “white” by a black singer in the throes of a racially-charged controversy was offensive and suggested a contempt for the feelings of other black people.
Darius Rucker/Hootie just sang "I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas" at the tree-lighting ceremony. Because America is fucking with us all
— Baratunde (@baratunde) December 4, 2014
Darius Rucker singing White Christmas unironically pic.twitter.com/x2TLxWhmFd
— Kathleen (@thleenzo) December 4, 2014
Rucker seemed unperturbed by the controversy, retweeting a photograph backstage with the Rockettes:
— Rockettes (@Rockettes) December 4, 2014
Photo: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters