Jeffrey Dean Morgan: it’s ‘stupid’ that Walking Dead shirt was pulled for racism

Did you guys know that the children’s rhyme “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” was originally horribly racist? I actually didn’t know this. You know how it goes, “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, Catch a tiger by the toe. If he hollers, let him go.” Imagine the T in tiger replaced by an N and you get the idea. There are variations of this rhyme in many languages and it’s not necessarily a racist rhyme in all languages, but it did have that line in an older US version. This was “the most common version among American schoolchildren in 1888according to Wiki. So the rhyme has racist origins and is about beating up black people, that’s something you discover when looking into it, and it’s also something that changes my opinion of it. Some people don’t think that way though, like Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

JDM’s sadistic character on The Walking Dead, Negan, used the “Eeny, meeny” rhyme while taunting Rick’s group in the lead-up to the horrible season opener, when he bludgeoned two people to death. (I’m not going to say who in case you want to avoid spoilers, but really don’t watch Walking Dead past the second season, it’s just an exercise in futility. I stuck in there until this season and then gave up a few episodes ago.) Of course Negan said the modern “Tiger” version. There was an official Walking Dead t-shirt for sale in the UK featuring Negan’s bat, Lucille, and the first four words of the rhyme. Only they pulled it once people complained the rhyme was racist. JDM had some thoughts about that.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan is shocked and stunned by The Walking Dead T-shirt controversy — shocked and stunned, that is, that anybody would find the shirt controversial in the first place.

To recap: U.K. department chain Primark pulled a Walking Dead T-shirt (image below) from its stores after a customer complained the clothing item is “racist” and “offensive.” The shirt featured Negan’s signature Lucille baseball bat and his victim-selecting rhyme, “Eeny meeny miny moe, catch a tiger by the toe…” The problem? About 100 years ago, that rhyme commonly used the N-word instead of “tiger.”

Morgan, sounding not entirely unlike his irate profane character on TV’s top-rated drama, tweeted “Holy crap people are stupid.”

The Primark customer who complained about the shirt told The Sheffield Star, “This image relates directly to the practice of assaulting black people in America … It is directly threatening of a racist assault, and if I were black and were faced by a wearer I would know just where I stood.” While Primark replied it was pulling the shirt from store shelves and issued a statement: “The T-shirt in question is licensed merchandise for the U.S. television series, The Walking Dead, and the quote and image are taken directly from the show. Any offense caused by its design was wholly unintentional and Primark sincerely apologizes for this.”

As pointed out previously, the strange thing about this controversy is its timing. The finale aired last April and the rhyme skittered by without making a blip on the collective outrage meter. The dialogue was also in Robert Kirkman’s comic years before that. Dave Chappelle even parodied the scene when guest hosting Saturday Night Live (though used a different rhyme). But now, 10 months later, with a random customer spying a T-shirt in Sheffield, suddenly this is a thing.

[From EW]

Here’s JDM’s tweet:

Ok I get the argument that it took a long time for this to come to light, especially because the episode aired almost a year ago. But if you see the t-shirt with that font (below) and you know the rhyme’s origin it’s clear to me why it would look horrible to some people. Can you imagine NOT knowing about Negan’s bat or about The Walking Dead, only knowing that the rhyme used to be about beating people of color and then seeing someone wearing that shirt? Not everyone gets pop culture references and in that context it’s bad. It doesn’t say “The Walking Dead” on it, to many people it’s just a bat and words about beating people. (Or tigers, if you think of it that way.) When you consider what that means it’s not people being “stupid” it’s JDM being arrogant and thinking that everyone knows his WD character when they don’t.




photos credit: AMC, WENN

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154 Responses to “Jeffrey Dean Morgan: it’s ‘stupid’ that Walking Dead shirt was pulled for racism”

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  1. Syko says:

    The original version lasted way past the 1880s. I was a child in the 1940s, and that’s the version I learned on the playground.

    • adastraperaspera says:

      I heard it as a child in the mid-60s in the US.

      • Cannibell says:


        I will also add that was my first encounter with the word – and suspect it might have been for some of you, too.

      • LadyT says:

        Same here. It was the 1960′s version.

      • Rianic says:

        1980s here and heard it.

      • Lady D says:

        1960-1970 here in Canada.

      • Bread and Circuses says:

        1970s, Canada. And yes to Cannibell; it was my first exposure to the word.

      • Rachel says:

        Wow. I’m surprised that I’m just hearing this. My mom has never hesitated to share stories about growing up during Jim Crow and the de-segregation of schools in the very redneck area where we live. And we used this rhyme all the time as kids. She would usually use things like that as a teaching moment.

      • Gelina says:

        I was born in 1957. The racist version of that rhyme was in full use in the 60′s and 70′s in Alabama. I did not hear the tiger version until I was living on a NATO base in Turkey in the late 80′s.

      • Lahdidahbaby says:

        Yeah, when I was a little kid in San Diego (age 5, I think) my older brother and I heard the neighbor kids chanting it and we didn’t yet know the meaning of the “n-word.” We thought it was funny, and began chanting it around the house. Our mother took us both aside and said we must never use that word again (the n-word) and that from now on we should just say “Catch a bad boy by the toe.” I guess it didn’t occur to her that if “bad boy” became our replacement for “n—–.” It suggested that the two were synonymous. Still, I know she meant well, and looking back I’m glad she taught us to never use that awful word.

    • Ashamed 2 b a Fl girl says:

      It was still around in the 50′s too.

    • Zapp Brannigan says:

      1980′s Ireland here and that was the version I heard too. Thankfully I don’t hear it used anymore and my nieces and nephews don’t repeat that version.

    • HK9 says:

      Learned it on the playground (sung at me no less) in the 1980s…it didn’t go anywhere.

    • Tris says:

      Yup. 1970s. This guy is a tool and that shirt is disgusting.

      • Bethy says:

        I grew up in the 70′s and went to an all white school (small Christian academy) and I heard the n-version. Which now as a teacher makes me fume as why the h*ll didn’t my elementary school teachers shut that racist crap down?

      • B4U says:

        Why is he a tool? Because someone has to point it out for anyone to actually remember where and how they heard it. Racism lives on because people like the complaint maker refuse to let it die! It’s ridiculous that someone always has to complain about something. Oh don’t use the color red because it looks like the blood spilled by my ancestors who died defending freedom. FFS are you people really this sensitive? So do you sing it this way? I don’t and I never have. Toughen up people…or shall we burn down our nation because of the interior disgust that exists inside our borders.

      • delorb says:


        Um, no. That’s not why racism lives. It lives because of apologists like you. People who find fault with the complaint and not the racial slur.

        Growing up I only heard the ‘tiger’ version. But that doesn’t mean anything. Most white people know not to use that word around black people. BTW, didn’t that Top Gear guy get into trouble for singing the ‘n-word’ version…RECENTLY?

      • HookedOnCoffee says:

        B4U–I was going to raise that point. I was also going to point out that the complainer is one of those ‘if I were black’ types.

        Like, ok, Mr/s White Savior, you aren’t black. How about letting an actual black person speak up for their community, instead of a hypothetical black version of yourself.

        So, if nothing else, this appears to have begun more of a fit of moral histrionics than actual cogency.

    • Kitten says:

      Wow really? I was born in 1978 and I only ever heard the tiger version. I didn’t even know that it was originally the n-word until I was in my early-thirties.

      • WeAreAllMadeOfStars says:

        Same here. Native northerner and never heard it was offensive to some people until the Southwest pilot thing.

      • Merlin'sWife says:

        Same. I’m a 1986 baby and I didn’t know until today.

      • Shark Bait says:

        I was born in 1984 and never knew that until a few years ago. My mom said children’s rhymes included quite a few slurs when she was a kid.
        I said wow mom, that explains a lot -_-

      • Coco says:

        Holy crap! 1980 here, born and raised Bay Area, and I’ve never heard that version before today. Horrible.

      • Lady Rain says:

        Similar here – born in 1976 and raised near D.C., and only ever heard the tiger version growing up. And JDM sounds so understanding 🙄 /s

      • lisa says:

        i only ever heard tiger

        once in college i heard someone say the n word version and i thought she was just some horrible person who made that up

      • NYGal says:

        Born in 1976 and I have never heard that version either and I grew up in New York State. However on another note the actor himself has a house in Rhinebeck and both him and his wife are not the nicest people …I know this because of someone that worked with them not in an acting capacity but hired for services.

    • MC2 says:

      Raised in the 80s (78 too!) on the West Coast US & I didn’t hear the N-word being thrown around but I was taught about the original version of this. It was one of my first lessons in racism and whenever I would hear my friends sing it, I would picture kids in the old days singing the og version and cringe. It stands out to me so this shirt bugged me- I would have thought of that rhyme if I saw it.

      I thought of the og version while I watched that episode of the show and thought the whole song was eye roll inducing but didn’t surprise me. But then for them to pull that out like it makes the character not racist to use this racist song to hit at random & that proves the shirt shouldn’t offend!? Yea- I don’t think that irony was lost in the comic either you idiot & I think it was a deliberate nod to it’s racist past. And so then don’t be surprised when it reminds someone of racism & violence…unless JDM didn’t get original the irony & context. Got- next he’s go on the red pill for an ego boost. Just say sorry & move on. I am quickly starting to despise JDM.

      • Ky says:

        He didn’t have to apologize. He didn’t print the shirts. All he had to do was say nothing. It’s free. 99 to stay in your lane. This makes him look like a tone deaf d-bag.

    • Radley says:

      I’m 40 and I knew it was racist in origin too. By my time, they replaced the n-word with pickle. But we eventually became aware of the original wording.

      Now, being that Negan is a terrible person, it’s not out of character for him to use it. But yeah, on a t-shirt it may not translate as well. Especially when depicted next to the barbed wire bat and no actual reference to the tv show. People that have no context might be taken aback.

      And I’m tired of white people whining every time a POC says, hey that’s not cool with me. Deal with it, Jeffrey. The world is changing. What people condemn as ‘political correctness’ is often just marginalized people using their voices to stop microaggressions from running rampant. Why should we have to suck it up so you can remain blissfully ignorant?? Nope. Do better.

    • KB says:

      I turn 30 this year and I never heard this. I’m shocked, it’s awful. I grew up in Houston, TX. The thought that it could be a euphemism for something racist never even crossed my mind. I think my white privilege is showing.

    • Shark Bait says:

      My mom was born in 1950, and said that’s the version she learned. I was born in 1984 and never ever knew that until my mom said something when my daughter was doing eeny meeny miney mo to chose between items. According to my mom, the n word was used in a quite a few phrases during her childhood.

    • cynic says:

      Heard it (the N word version) many times in the 60s and 70s. Like others here, it was my introduction to the word.

    • Zombie Shortcake says:

      Zed recites it in Pulp Fiction (1994) when he’s choosing whether to rape Butch or Marcellus first.

    • Jeesie says:

      It was still very much around in the 80′s, and in the 60′s in many places it wasn’t treated like a racist version of the rhyme, it was just the only version people knew.

    • Rebecca says:

      I heard the original version as a child in the 80′s when a military family from the South moved in accross the street and all the kids in the neighborhood were playing flaslight tag in my yard.

      This was the first time I had heard that version and I remember being very surprised and disappointed. I stopped using that one to determine who was it after that and went with the my mother socked your mother right in the nose one instead.

      If the original rhyme is racist then the T-Shirt must be too. Why is that hard to figure out?

    • mee says:

      Never knew until reading this today. Only heard tiger, and grew up in the 70s in SoCal.

  2. QueenB says:

    Im just glad that white men finally stand up and explain what is racist and what is not.

    • detritus says:

      I’m sure he’d like to tell you about sexism too, just give him a chance!
      I especially love when it’s coupled with an ignorance of history.

      • Arianna says:

        The man who originally made the in store complaint is a white man.

      • Megan says:

        I don’t watch the show and if I had seen that shirt in a store my brain would have gone straight to racism because I heard the original version plenty of times as a kid.

        If the shirt had Walking Dead branding it would have given it some context, but, seriously, even in context, it’s a pretty gross message.

    • Patricia says:

      QueenB his arrogance is astonishing. I’m a white woman and I see this crap a LOT among white people.
      People are appalled when i say thinks like “it’s really not that hard for us to listen and learn, for us to stop saying and doing small things that have a big impact or can hurt people of color”. But many many whites people do NOT want to confront the realities of the racist history and especially the continuing systemic racism in this country, and they feel like a victim if they are asked to change anything.

      I have a harder and harder time keeping my mouth shut. People don’t consider themselves racist. Good, they don’t want to be racist. But if you can’t listen to a simple explanation of why what you are doing is racially insensitive and then simply change that small behaviors than guess what.. you’re racist!!

      I’m glad I was raised by a white women who was raised by a black woman (my grandmother died and the baby nurse stayed and raised them, she’s an angel). Our family was able to learn small things. Like that you don’t call the black section of town “matchbox town”, as my mother’s family used to when she was growing up. Like don’t ever call a black man “boy”. We used to play this game where if we saw a runner we would shout out of the car “you go, boy!!”. Just silly fun meant to encourage and have fun with people going for a run. My mom told us we may never play that game if the runner is a black man because to him it could feel hurtful and not playful, and she explained why.
      Sorry for the long post. My whole point is ITS NOT THAT HARD to listen and learn and close your mouth and nod your head and have some freakin consideration. Some white people act like such victims just for being asked to do so.

      • ell says:

        ‘My whole point is ITS NOT THAT HARD to listen and learn and close your mouth and nod your head and have some freakin consideration.’

        agreed. and also, as a white woman myself, own up the fact i might say and or do stuff wrong even unintentionally. all i can do is listen, learn and better myself. racism can be casual, and there are a lot of things ingrained in our society that we need to unlearn.

      • Kitten says:

        I’m a white woman and this is my experience with MANY other white people as well.
        I will say that my immediate circle of friends are more than willing to listen and learn, though.

        (which is why they are my close friends)

      • LadyT says:

        So well said Patricia.

      • MS. Lib says:

        Ditto, ditto, ditto…

    • V4Real says:

      I’ve heard that rhyme both ways but I don’t think the replacement of the N-Word is the original version. But it shows that this guy never watched the Walking Dead. If he had he would have known that the show was not being racist at all. If Negan had said the N word then this man would have a point. But he can have several seats. Thank you White man for telling us Blacks what we should consider racist.

      • Arianna says:

        Off topic but can I just say that I love all your comments. I’ve been a reader longer than a commentor, but you aren’t afriad to go agaisnt the grain and say what you feel.
        Which is hard to do here sometimes.

      • V4Real says:

        @Arianna thanks for that nice comment. You’re right, I’m not afraid to go against the grain out of fear strangers on a website will have harsh opinions of me or try to prove that my opinions are wrong just because. I will never let people opinions of what I say take me hostage.

        Also I think it’s nice to have that balance. If everyone agreed this site would become pretty boring.

      • Myriam says:

        Nope. I’m going to go against you on this. As Celebitchy pointed out, the shirt does not have a “Walking Dead” logo or anything associated to the tv show printed on it. And didn’t this happen in the UK? It IS arrogant to think that everyone, all over the world, watches that show and knows the reference. I’ve stopped watching past Season 4, and if it wasn’t for Celebitchy, I wouldn’t know the reference to it either (I didn’t know that’s the rhyme the character chants, but I recognize the bat). So GOOD for that White man to actually know the history and racist origin of that rhyme and complain. And this is coming from a black woman.

        I get that it becomes very eye-rolling to see White people continuously complain on our behalf of something they consider to be racist, but you know what? At least THOSE people are trying to understand. They may need to take a few seats in their understanding, but I can’t bash them. I have bigger issues with the JDMs of the world. had he actually read the entire article, not just the headline, he wouldn’t be flippantly regarding people as “stupid.” There goes my Denny love.

      • Ary says:

        For real. The same people complaining about JDM claiming what’s racist and what’s not need to turn that around on the white man that made the original complaint.

      • Megan says:

        I don’t watch the show so, to me, this shirt looks like it’s advocating lynching. Maybe I am more sensitive because of where I grew up, but to me, this is a “see something, say something” moment.

      • chick b. says:

        White girl here standing up to give her two cents: I agree about the rhyme – the origins and usage go too far and wide for everyone who hears it to immediately think about one of the ugliest blights in US history. However, seeing the words PAIRED WITH the image of bloody barbed wire? It instantly made me ill.

        I understand this happened in the UK, but whatever the interpretation of the rhyme I don’t really get wanting to wear a t-shirt like this. The blood isn’t spilled by monsters in the show – it’s taken by a human strutting about spilling nonsense word salads and pushing his weight around with a group of violent assholes backing him up. It’s all hitting a little too close to home.

      • naughtycorner says:

        @V4real & Arianna
        i too believe in independent thought but there is a difference between that and deliberately contrarian just to prove that you are not like the ” others ‘ (the latter comes from a whole different place) . America is not the world and not everyone watches the Waking Dead (myself included ) it s beyond ignorant to assume that everyone gets the recent Walking Dead reference (esp without a logo ) when there is a prevailing centuries old context behind that rhyme that is universally known ( I know it am I not an American as well as many other posters here)

        That a black woman would be dismissive of a the historical and social context of a nursery rhyme that was actually mocking the chasing , beating and lynching of black people ( often for sport) and that a presumably non black woman would be applauding her for that speaks volumes

        PS you can also not be particularly offended by something but have the understanding/decency to see why someone else would

    • KB says:

      Isn’t that great? When the most privileged decide what’s offensive to others?

      • Otaku Fairy says:

        A person bringing up the FACT that something has a racist, or misogynistic, or homophobic origin isn’t automatically the same as a privileged person telling everybody else how they have to feel about it, and it’s also not the same as someone dismissing everyone else’s reactions to it as ‘stupid’ and oversensitive. We see examples of THAT happening more towards the bottom of the comment section, where the usual subjects who only ever pop up to tell everybody how they’re ‘too PC’ for disagreeing with them/having a discussion about something they don’t want to talk about are engaging in the usual special snowflake bitching session about how offended they are that other people are voicing offense on something. (And yet they choose to visit the articles and comment sections of websites that aren’t exactly conservative, just to shut down discussions that they don’t want to hear with ‘Other people are stupid and oversensitive.’ If you don’t want a discussion, why bother? Can’t some of the more obvious trolls just be content with the election results?) Of course not every member of a group is going to be offended by all the same things, but if some are, how is it wrong to point that out?
        Here’s the other thing about this guy’s reaction to the shirt: With everything that’s gone down with Trump and Brexit, (although yeah, it definitely started before that) we’re living in a time where racists are more vocal and aggressive, Neo-Nazi voices are more amplified, and hate crimes have increased. We’re seeing that more people are willing to support racism, violence, and discrimination than we thought. So is it really fair to just dismiss this random guy who doesn’t watch the show as just being stupid and oversensitive for seeing a white t-shirt with lyrics from an old 1888 rhyme that’s about beating up black people, seeing the violent picture on the shirt, considering the current political climate we’re in, and assuming the worst about the meaning of the shirt, or is it kind of easy to see why someone might react that way? I’m not saying anyone who uses the non-racist version of the rhyme is a racist or even necessarily that it has to be banned, but I also don’t think the guy did anything wrong by having the response to it that he did.

  3. Lozface says:

    The original version was in Australia during my youth (80s/90s). Makes me ill to think of it’s real meaning. Sadly, there’s a lot of ignorant people here who would still use it.

    That t-shirt is wildly inappropriate, especially without context. Even with context, it is not a good idea.

  4. Trixie says:

    I had no idea there was a version of that rhyme that wasn’t “tiger” (I grew up in the 90s). But I agree that shirt isn’t great. Add the Walking Dead logo on it and it would have been fine. But without the logo the shirt just looks violent for no reason.

    • detritus says:

      Even tiny font, in the bottom ‘walking dead’, would give people a clue.
      Walking dead isn’t a cultural phenomenon that everyone knows, that’s where JDM’s arrogance comes through, he assumes everyone watches the show.

  5. Sixer says:

    Oh noes. Don’t fall from grace, Jeffrey. Bah. This was an internet boyfriend I had no ball gag in my cupboard for. Hmph bah russnfussn.

    Being Britisher, I had no idea about the origins of this rhyme until I was an adult. We said piggy, not tiger, in the playground, and we always used it to pick for games ending with “it. is. not. you” or “o.u.t. spells out”. Got older, found out where it came from and realised why it wasn’t a rhyme my parents ever sang with us.

    • MC2 says:

      I can tell you had no ball gag cuz he’s been running his mouth. Sorry Sixer- this guy is quickly turning to crap. I think it could be from all his adoring fans in their mom’s basement giving him adulation for his macho male persona. Blech.

      • Sixer says:

        I know. And he is SO hot. But this isn’t even mockable, is it?

      • NYGal says:

        Sorry I know people who were hired to do work for him and his wife and they are not nice neither one of them. They are rude and foul mouthed.

  6. Louise177 says:

    I don’t think Jeffrey was assuming everybody knows about the Walking Dead just that it’s such a well known rhyme, how could it be offensive? He most likely doesn’t know the original roots. I’m black but I’m not offended by it. I didn’t grow up knowing the background and neither did my friends and relatives. We sung it all of the time. I’m not attacking anybody who is offended just that a lot of people don’t know the origins. Kind of unfair to dismiss people as egostistical, hateful, or racist.

    • Merry says:

      He knew the roots when he wrote that tweet. Both he and yourself need to learn that when a T shirt caption causes others to fear, you should respect that and drop the damn caption instead of belittling or ridiculing them.

    • Pollyland says:

      I’m black as well and I wouldn’t be offended by it, but I understand why some people would. Though, I’m also a fan of the show so I would have gotten the reference.
      I don’t think this makes him racist. If anything it’s a litttle ignorant and dissmissive, but not racist. Then again, maybe I’m ignorant and dissmissive for not being offended, I have no idea.

      (Please don’t dogpile me, I’m just giving my opinion)

      • Peeking in says:

        I’m black and I didn’t know the original version of this rhyme, now that I do, it’s incredibly offensive. I sang it ignorantly and innocently as a kid, with the Tiger version, now I feel ill.

      • Faith says:

        This is sort of my opinion I am not a person of colour however the people of colour I know don’t find it offencesive. The man who made the complaint is white and it kind of seems like alot of white voices being offended for people. However I can totally see how it could be seen as offencive and if someone of colour said yeah this is wrong then I would totally admit I was wrong.

    • Isa says:

      The link he posted in his tweet explains the roots of the rhyme.

  7. Almondjoy says:

    Wow. I’m shocked. I never knew the origin of that song.

    • Snowflake says:

      I didn’t know that either

    • I Choose Me says:

      I did. And looking at that shirt, I can definitely see why devoid of context, it would make some people uncomfortable. I won’t jump to call him racist but his arrogance is showing.

    • Tallia says:

      Growing up we used piggy or tiger. I never had heard the other version. Makes me ill. I am quite shocked.

  8. Janet R says:

    I wasn’t bothered by this particularly until I saw the shirt – um…no.

  9. Mew says:

    Yeah, it’s not like forgotten version. I thought it was well known how it used to go. If I had seen that t-shirt, I would have had no idea it was from Walking Dead.

  10. Spades says:

    I always say I was gypped, and I just found out that that’s offensive to gypsies and the Roma. I’ve also heard people use the phrase “jewed down.” There are so many phrases that have been around for so long that people don’t realize how bad they actually are.

    • Daisy says:

      The “g” word itself for decribing the Roma is offensive in most of Europe.

    • Nanny to the Rescue (ex-Crox) says:

      Ha, I never knew the word gypped exists in English. In my language we have a word with the same meaning that is derived from our word for a “Gypsy”, too. I though it was local.

      But I have to say, being part Romany myself, that for a weird reason I always liked the term Gypsy (I am speaking for myself alone here). While it carried a ton of negative stereotypes, it also carries – for me – several positive ones, mainly those connected to a free spirit.

      (But I aknowledge this is easier for me because I didn’t grow up in the Romany community and (unless I specifically style myself differently) can always pass for not only white, but extra white, so I can avoid profiling in most circumstations.)

    • Ana says:

      Calling romani people gypsys is offensive in some parts of the world, apparently (the ones I know call themselves that, so I really don’t know). However, culturally Gypsy has become a word to signify a nomad lifestyle, so I don’t think in that context it should be considered offensive.

    • Nocturnal Queen says:

      A good rule of thumb is: Use it like the n-word. It’s generally not okay to use it if you’re not Romani but okay for Romani to use it.

    • Otaku Fairy says:

      I’ve used ‘gypped’ before too, but always thought it was spelled ‘jipped’ and never got any connection to romani people when I heard people talk about getting ‘gyped’. #DumbMe.

  11. Erinn says:

    “There are variations of this rhyme in many languages and it’s not necessarily a racist rhyme in all languages, but it did have that line in an older US version”

    There were other versions of the rhyme pre-dating the one using the racist terms – THAT was an American change to the rhyme. I wouldn’t say that version is the ORIGINAL version of the rhyme based on older records – this could be the first version that stuck in America, but I don’t think it’s exactly correct to say that the origins were racist. The origins of THAT version were, but not the counting out rhyme in general.

  12. Daisy says:

    Man, I thought the shirt was so cool, and I liked that it doesn’t have TWD on it, but now that I know the original song I could never wear it.

  13. Doodle says:

    I was a kid in the 80s in Canada and while we didn’t say the racist version I knew of it’s origin. I don’t watch the show, and since I don’t know the bat or that this is in reference to the show if I saw someone wearing the shirt I’d think the guy was a creeper too, and I am not stupid. This actor sounds like an entitled douche.

    • detritus says:

      Same. We didn’t use it because we were told of the old version, and to never say it, I knew where it came from, just like ring around the rosie.

      • Snowflake says:

        What about ring around the rosie? Idk bout that

      • detritus says:

        Well my parents taught us (it seems incorrectly) it was about the plague. Snopes is saying no though, and it’s just a nonsense rhyme. I trust snopes more than my parents offhand comment.

        The premise was ring around the Rosie referred to the plague sores, and ashes, ashes, we all burn down, was about burning the bodies. Pocket full of posies to ward off the smells and humours. Etc etc, but looks like it’s bunk.

    • Godwina says:

      Same. Born in Canada in 1970 and I learned about the racist version from books or film, but no one ever said anything but Tiger or Piggy in my neck of the woods. Mind you, my neck was pretty sheltered even by Canadian standards, in that people fucking knew better than to say that word in polite society because that’s what Bad People said. I was REALLY lucky.

  14. Patricia says:

    I didn’t know the origins of that rhyme. It’s such a heartbreak, that so much of our culture is based on oppression and hatred.

  15. ell says:

    he’s called people stupid before, when fans were complaining for the cliffhanger manipulative ending, and when some site leaking spoilers managed to ruin the ‘surprise’ over who died in the opening episode.

    he seems to always speak inappropriately, he needs some serious pr training. i still remember the days in which amc were courting jon hamm for negan, sigh. he would have been a million times better.

    • Syko says:

      Better, and carries his own bat.

    • Daisy says:

      Well, Jon does have experience in hitting people with bats.

    • V4Real says:

      I like it when celebs call it how they see it and are unapologetic about it. I dislike when they say something then turn around and apologize for it like Santana did with Beyonce.

      Hamm would have been a horrible Negan and I’m glad the execs realized that.

      • ell says:

        i didn’t know jdm had so many stans, i’m literally plagued by stans in every post.

        i don’t like when celebs are ignorant. the whole ‘but he’s honest!’ is what got trump elected.

      • SilverUnicorn says:

        “when celebs call it how they see it and are unapologetic about it.”

        So would you be offended if normal people did that? I cannot get what you mean.

        “I don’t like when celebs are ignorant. the whole ‘but he’s honest!’ is what got trump elected.”

  16. Adrien says:

    I didn’t know the rhyme’s awful history. I still love JDM though! He was so good in Desierto. He played a racist vigilante haunting down Mexicans crossing the border. Eeekk!

  17. Froma says:

    Racist or not, that shirt is gross.

  18. Sam the Pink says:

    That shirt is kinda creepy and gross even without the racist subtext.

  19. TheOtherMaria says:

    And yet no one said shit when the actual line was used on the show….

    IF the racist version had been used, TWD would have been dropped with quickness, context matters.

    I won’t call anytime stupid for being offended, overtly sensitive, definitely.

  20. Lynnie says:

    Oh my gosh do you know how many decisions of my life have been made on this rhyme 😱😱😱.

  21. Bridget says:

    So what people are saying is, because people used to use a racist version of the nursery rhyme, the non-racist version said by people who are unaware of the tainted version should be tainted as well.

    If it legitimately offends you, I respect your right to feel that way. But is anyone actually offended? Or just in theory? Do you still sing songs like Rock A Bye Baby or Ring Around The Rosie, both of which have gruesome origins?

    • Bubbles says:

      I’m with your logic here. IMO, it’s just another reason to be offended by something. If his character had actually used the “n” word then I could see an uproar over it but this is just reaching to me.

    • hogtowngooner says:

      I agree with you, Bridget. It’s a direct reference to the show, that’s it. The character says that (using the “tiger” version) and kills someone with the bat. It reminds me of Bill Maher a few weeks ago: “What matters is that while you self-involved fools were policing language at the Kids’ Choice Awards, a madman talked his way into the White House,”

      • Bridget says:

        Maher isn’t exactly fighting the good fight himself, though. He’s convinced himself that he really knows what’s what, but I watched his infamous interview – he was terrible and let Milo run roughshod over him.

    • Shark Bait says:

      I think it has more to do with Lucille being on the shirt. Or at least that is what I am assuming.

    • jc126 says:

      Ditto. And should something be pulled for someone feeling offended? I can’t stand t shirts with profanity on them, sexually suggestive sayings, or assorted other images, but I don’t expect them to be pulled off the shelves because of my delicate sensibilities.

  22. MellyMel says:

    This is the first time I’m hearing about the origin of this rhyme. I said it all the time as a kid and even occasionally now as an adult use it when trying to make a decision. The more you know I guess…

  23. Psu Doh Nihm says:

    Me too. As a young child in the early 80′s in the south, I sang the bad version I learned at school. I had no clue what the word even meant and was singing it when my horrified mom interrupted me to tell me to NEVER say that again. I remember being broken hearted because as a very conscientious child, it killed me to think I disappointed my mother.
    It was just a word that wasn’t in our vernacular. I thought it was a flower because there was a flower often called the same name and we would pick the petals and sing the song during recess. When she told me the true meaning I cried and I cried. I felt so bad.
    I think back now to the few black children in my kindergarten class and I worry what effect it had on them to hear their fellow classmates sing that. I’m so thankful my mother had the courage to explain to her six year old child something most would find disturbing or difficult to do.

  24. Ana says:

    Many children nursery rhymes have an incredibly horrific and creepy story behind, but just like language, they change and evolve change with time. Culture changes. Eeeny, meeny is no longer a racist tune and haven’t been for a really long time. I have to agree with Jeffrey Dean Morgan on this. Not to mention, that line has been used in soooo many things before, in modern times it means a different thing. People are just searching so hard for things to get offended about, instead of focusing on working for a better, safer environment for everyone.

  25. Skins says:

    I gave up on the show this season too. Same thing every week, every season

  26. Krysten says:

    Here we go with another reason for people to make a big deal over nothing. So little kids singing that song in schools should be stopped because there was a different version? How about the other nursery rhymes that have a pretty sad and messed up origin to them reflecting earlier times? People need to stop getting offended over every.single.thing.

  27. JA says:

    I did not know this at all. Child born of the 80s and holy crap that’s beyond Fd up. Ok yea probably not a good idea for a shirt if you know the origin. Will yet not use it again!! God history is so messed up…

  28. Gene123 says:

    Genuine question- was there any outrage when the episode aired about the use of the line? I don’t recall any. If not and if the racist version wasnt used in the show, then I don’t think the shirt is offensive (although it should have TWD logo on it)

    I am a 90s child and I never heard the racist version.

  29. Roger says:

    Can’t believe believe that people think that this shirt is racist and that the author of this article supports their standpoint that everything is racist.

    Let’s be honest. If some one is wearing this shirt and then someone comes up calling them racist they would simply have to explain that it’s a walking dead shirt and not racist at all.

    Everyone’s butt hurt anymore and that’s not helpful to society. To assume that the person wearing this shirt is racist is an assumption and that is what the problem is. We make it OK to make any assumption we want about people and that’s just wrong.

    • Kellyuew says:

      Thank you, it’s not even remotely close to anything that should offend people..

    • HK9 says:

      Roger, I think your point is fine. Just remember, that rhyme is more than 80 years old, and a lot of people will ask you questions if you wear that shirt since there’s no walking dead branding and no one can look at the shirt and get it’s context. The words of the rhyme and the racist cultural reference are fact, not assumption. As long as people are ok with explaining themselves, then have at it.

    • Almondjoy says:

      1. Do you agree the the original version of the rhyme is racist?

      2. Do you realize that many who were taunted by or at least old enough to remember the original version are still alive today? (The first few comments of this thread confirm this.)

      3. Do you know that many people don’t watch The Walking Dead and would only come to one conclusion when seeing this shirt? That it could be a sick reminder of awful things done in the past?

      • Guesto says:

        @Almondjoy – Yes, yes, and yes.

        And no one in the UK can pretend ignorance of the original version of this rhyme because it was a huge media issue when ‘TopGear’s’ Jeremy Clarkson got pulled up on it and had to apologise for it.

  30. Wolfie88 says:

    Far too many butthurt people in society. Every. Single. Thing. Offends!

    My god the sun is so yellow today!
    Did you just say “god” i’m offended you said “god” and yes that damn sun is being a racist.
    I’ve only ever heard the Tiger variation of that rythme.

  31. What-was- that? says:

    I was born in 1954 in the U.K..I know this rhyme not as Tiger which I have never heard..Neither do I watch this show and in context…not everyone in the U.K. has cable or satellite TV and often what we watch is behind the USA in seasons..For all these reasons this is not an unreasonable complaint..
    I would not know its origins on that show and just find it offensive for the barbed wire bloodied club..thinking someone wearing that is a ‘Yob’ not a TV watcher!

  32. Veronica says:

    You know, in the back of my mind, I remember hearing about the real origin of that song at some point. Somewhere along the way, I forgot about it and get to the experience the delightful shock of realizing how awful human beings can be to each other all over again.

    On a side note, I was more surprised that the backlash didn’t come from the tastelessness of a shirt portraying a weapon used to brutalize one of the few major, recurring POC character in the show.

  33. Abbess Tansy says:

    I remember hearing the original version on a playground early 80s. I wonder if the producers and writers of The Walking Dead knew what the origin of the rhyme was.

  34. me says:

    I’m young and even I know about the racist history of that rhyme. I thought most people knew?

    • Guesto says:

      Me too. I haven’t read through the above posts but I’m sure the Jeremy Clarkson incident relating to exactly this same issue has been brought up, so it’s certainly not something that anyone living in the UK has any reason to pretend ignorance of.

      Einy meeny miny just a huge NO. That t-shirt is seriously unacceptable.

  35. Dttimes2 says:

    I would still climb him like a tree….thats all i got

  36. Peter Watts says:

    One person complained. Talk about an hysterical overreaction.

  37. TOPgirl says:

    Growing up in the 80′s, where I lived, I never even heard of the N word until I was in highschool and heard black kids use it towards each other and other groups of people they liked or didn’t like. It was thrown around like the word “the.” I didn’t know whether it was a bad word or a good word. All I knew was that i was accepted no matter which way it was used depending on the context it was used in. I never even heard it in this rhyme so this is new news to me.

  38. Mimi says:

    This will blow your mind: Born in 1990. Heard the original in the 1990s. In Germany (ex best friend’s parents were British.)
    Stuff like this, sadly, survives. Some people will make sure of it.

  39. Greg H says:

    Racism is kept alive by the racist people that see and hear it in anything and everthing. The phrase was used in the show TWD as a selection of who is next for Lucille and nothing more. Live in the past and have no future for a better tomorrow. Just my two cents from NC. If I offend anyone not my intention maybe you need to look at yourself.

    • embear says:

      @GREG H “Racism is kept alive by the racist people that see and hear it in anything and everthing.” No, racism is kept alive through ignorance. Pointing out injustice does not make you the racist. The shirt was probably not intended to have racial connotations (I personally never knew the n-word version), but once it was pointed out, a reasonable person can see how the t-shirt could be seen as threatening when removed from the context of the show.

      Also, not “living in the past” really isn’t a good solution for ending racism, since our past is all tied up in it. We have to understand the past and try to grow from it, not forget about it.

      “If I offend anyone not my intention maybe you need to look at yourself.” Please.

  40. shannon says:

    I was born in 1976, and I didn’t know about the racist version until I read it here. Wow. So I can see if he didn’t realize at first what the problem was. Still, probably best of he’d just mind his own business.

  41. Amelie says:

    Born in 1988, never heard the N word version until this post. It is a popular rhyme in other languages and I know the French version which is basically gibberish and doesn’t mean anything and as far as I know has 0 racist implications. Seems to be Germanic in origin, not sure how the English song became so entrenched in racism.

    • loveotterly says:

      Ditto. Is it still offensive to people if used with the word ‘tiger’ since many years ago it used to be different?

  42. shanti says:

    its just a really really horrible shirt and if I saw anybody actually wearing it would think what a total dick

  43. Redgrl says:

    Early 1970′s Montreal – heard the the rhyme in the school yard but it was “tigger” (as in Winnie-the-pooh’s friend). I remember my dad telling me it was originally the n-word and that we must never use it. But in hindsight wonder why they kept the closer rhyming version of “tigger” as opposed to tiger.

  44. Joh says:

    I was born in 54 and the n- word version was the one I heard as a child.
    I lived in Valley Station Ky as a child and my first grade class in Catholic school performed ” Mammies little baby loves Shortbread” in blackface.
    The entire class!
    I missed performing it only because I came down with chicken pox that week.
    My uncle from Wisconsin always referred to black folks as c**ns so we really are not very far removed from racism as one might think.
    The shirt indeed has racists roots and ignorance of that is no excuse.

  45. I'm With The Band says:

    1976, Aussie baby here. I grew up singing “catch a nicker by the toe”. I’m not sure whether I misheard the lyrics or was taught a version without the n-word (it was certainly never used in my house growing up). I actually wasn’t aware of the original racist version until I was an adult.