As a 42-year-old white guy, I see White privilege and how it relates to the power structure in America more clearly than ever. So when I read this blog post, I get and agree with with a lot of it:
He’s a really smart guy with lots of insightful things to say about pop culture. The question in my mind is whether he crosses a certain line–not so much into offensiveness but into a perspective that would be fatiguing to maintain and whose truth value is questionable. Some quotes:
He also embeds a Gil Scott-Heron spoken word piece that is, at the end of the day, hate speech against whites (I totally get where it comes from, but I don’t think returning racist fire for fire is ultimately productive).
Then in this post:
Again, I’m picking more of the stuff I don’t agree with–a lot of what he says I do agree with.
But I’d like to take issue with his approach with respect to how people of different races and cultures influence each other in the musical realm. I haven’t been able to divine from reading a bunch of his posts whether he likes “white music” (whatever that might be). He seems to have had a white trumpet teacher at one point that he greatly respects.
My overall take is this: An unprecedented musical chemical reaction happened when the African musical tradition and the European musical tradition met in the United States (under the deplorable circumstance of slavery). Once that chemical reaction occurred, it was no longer possible to sort out the chemicals that went into the reaction. There was no longer African music or European music, white music or black music.
For example, is country music “white” just because most people who play it are white? No way. That music was born of collective Southern culture which was steeped in African influence. Country music is plenty “Black” too (as is evidenced by country songs easily being turned into R&B hits, such as “I’ll Always Love You” by Dolly Parton becoming a massive hit for Whitney Houston).
That said, African-Americans were just so good at music, that they had (and of course still have) a proportionately huge influence. They were so good that egregious racism couldn’t contain that influence.
And everyone, white and Black and all colors, made music in the US and around the world based on that influence. To me, that’s a good thing. That’s Love. That’s the way it should be.
To be sure, there were cases where a Black guy would perform a song, it wouldn’t be a hit, and then effin’ Pat Boone would do it and it would be. There were cases where racism still did its ugly work. For the most part, however, it seems as though the dam broke and the water flooded out. White people were listening to and enjoying records by Black performers. Dancing to them at the sock hop, and all that.
So I’m uncomfortable with the last of the above quotes in which Elvis, the Beatles, and the Bee Gee’s are denigrated. Because they did their own thing very well. In particular, groups like the Beatles and the Stones in England were not caught up in American racial politics and simply loved Black music and just made their own tunes with that influence acknowledged. Heck, the Beatles were covering Black girl band tunes like “Mr. Postman”! It was truly honey badger don’t give a ****.
To me, worrying about who is “stealing” what is a fatiguing exercise. If you were a white supremacist and wanted to avoid all things Black and thus thought country music was pure enough for you, you’d just be wrong. There is no such thing non-Black, non-African American music. By the same token, however, there is no such thing as purely non-white, non-European American music.
Anyhow, of course everyone is free to weigh in, but I’m particularly curious as to how our Black/African-American Dopers process the above. Thank you!