What should we do with the anthems of our racist past?

These episodes of recovered racism are useful. They are reminders of how indelibly racist America once was — a culture that not only embraced (or forgave) the Jim Crow fascism of the South but managed in song and film to regularly insult African Americans and demean them as somehow less than fully human. A mere song can alert you to how life was for a black person. A person could pass an open window and hear a radio playing a racist insult.

A covered statue of singer Kate Smith stands outside the Philadelphia Flyers’ arena last week. (David Maialetti/AP)