Posted on June 7, 2024

Ramsgate Public School Under Investigation for Playing Violent Captain Cook Song

Eilidh Sproul-Mellis, Daily Telegraph, June 4, 2024

A Sydney principal has been “counselled” after her primary school broadcast a divisive and violent song describing Captain Cook as a “white devil” over their loudspeakers for the past two weeks.

Ramsgate Public School in Sydney’s south has been playing the hip-hop track ‘Bagi-la-m Bargan’ by Indigenous rapper Birdz before the bell rings for class each morning, in the lead-up to and during Reconciliation Week.

The 2020 release includes lyrics describing Cook as “self-righteous, a murderer without license”, “from the land of the white skin”, with the main character of the song responding with a plan to hunt down the explorer.

“With the spear, I’m the nicest/Thinkin’ that I might just wait ‘til night hits/Then I move in silence,” Birdz sings.

“Won’t be tuned by desire to kill/Any white devil wanna test my will/Then he finna get burnt by the fire I feel.”

A “shocked” father reported to 2GB’s Ben Fordham that the song has been played for the past two months over the school intercom, and said he did not want to raise his concerns with the school directly over fear of being labelled a racist.

“Usually I don’t pay too much attention to the songs as I drop (the kids) off,” the father ‘John’ said.

“But it came to my attention because my son said to me one day ‘Dad, is there something wrong with being white?’ … ‘every morning when you drop me off, I hear them mention ‘white devil’ in the song’.

“How has this principal got the authority to play a song with such strong themes?”

‘John’ said the rap was divisive and “inspires hatred” rather than reconciliation or inclusion.

No complaints had been raised with the principal or the school about the use of the song prior to the incident being aired on 2GB, and the song has since been removed from the school playlist.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education apologised for any distress caused to parents and children, and said all NSW public school principals and staff would be “reminded of their professional obligations” in “resource selection”, including choosing songs for their school bell.

“The school’s leadership has been counselled about making appropriate choices for the school bell song,” the spokeswoman said.

“The song was chosen to mark Reconciliation Week and was not intended to be divisive.”

On Tuesday morning Education Minister Prue Car told Fordham the allegations were “very concerning” and that she would refer the matter to the Department of Education to investigate and report back to her.

“I’ve been really consistent – schools are not places for … anything that creates any sort of division,” Ms Car said.

“It’s really more about what is appropriate … especially (when) we’re talking about children in primary school.”

Premier Chris Minns also responded to the incident, suggesting the government might reconsider allowing schools to play songs in place of traditional bells.

“Rap songs in general probably (are) not the best fit for New South Wales schools,” he said.

“We just had a traditional bell. So maybe we go back to bells.

“I think these things are all about context. They’re all about age appropriate access to media in particular.”

Musical bells have become commonplace in NSW public schools over recent years, with some schools allowing students to choose a song to be played in the lead-up to the class bell ringing.

Usually, however, these are upbeat pop songs such as Pharrell Williams’ Happy.

Ramsgate Public School has been embroiled in controversy under principal Lorraine Simmiss-Taylor’s leadership in the past; in 2019 the Education Department ordered the school to remove two letters to the Prime Minister, written by students and published in the school newsletter.

The letters urged then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison to act on climate change or risk “everything in the world (going) extinct”, breaching the department’s Controversial Issues in Schools policy.