Don’t Want No Short People ‘Round Here

by Carol A Westbrook

It’s been over 30 years since Randy Newman released his hit, “Short People,” singing, that they

“…. got grubby little fingers
And dirty little minds
They’re gonna get you every time
Well, I don’t want no short people
‘Round here.”

Most Americans recognized this song as a parody of racial discrimination. But few recognize the true significance of this song: short people are discriminated against, too!

You don’t think there’s discrimination against short people? Think again. I’m short, and I know. I’m at 5’2, below the average height for a woman (5′ 4.6″) and well below the average height for a man, (5’ 10.2″). In fact, half of Americans are below average in height. Yet they are expected to reach up to the top shelf of the grocery store, sit on chairs where their legs don’t reach the ground, drive cars in which they can’t reach the pedals or can’t see over the dashboard. Sometimes tall people don’t even see me, they just walk right past!  Randy Newman had it down when he sang,

“They got little baby legs
And they stand so low
You got to pick ’em up
Just to say hello..

They got little cars
That go beep, beep, beep…”

Newman’s song was a reminder that racism still exists, even though the Civil Rights Act had been passed 13 years before the song was released, and the Americans with Disabilities Act has been in effect for 4 years. Songs like “Short People” raised public awareness of ongoing prejudice against people who are different from ourselves, including people of color, the disabled, and the LGBTQ. And it made a difference; America’s attitudes are recognizably changing, as we have accepted the fact that we are a recognizably diverse society. Read more »