You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught

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You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught

Lyrics By Oscar Hammerstein II  Music By Richard Rodgers

When Nellie discovers that Emile’s children are of mixed-race lineage, she decides she cannot marry him. Lt. Cable, unable to overcome his own prejudices and marry Liat, bitterly comments on the racism he and Nellie were raised to internalize.

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“You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” LYRICS

Cable:
You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught from year to year,
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear—
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a different shade—
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate—
You’ve got to be carefully taught!
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

I was cheated before
And I’m cheated again
By a mean little world
Of mean little men.
And the one chance for me
Is the life I know best.

To be on an island
And to hell with the rest.
I will cling to this island
Like a tree or a stone,
I will cling to this island
And be free—and alone.