Superior Culture Abusing The Inferior-Review To African Americans Dance And Music

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When we talk about Racism, behind our sentences, terms and concepts, the people live who experience the reality of this meaning! A racial group who has superior situation in one hand and another racial group who has inferior situation in the other hand.

A black dancer, full of wonderful rhythmic movement, walks around himself fast and gathers a lot of people who desire to spend their free time in coffees, clubs or in front of the TV! They enjoy listening to Ragtime music and leaving themselves free in sexual interests, in shadow of the “other” culture.I want to consider the cultural challenges in American popular music. Studying African-American culture and social status could be useful for understanding how this racial group’s art serves the majority population in United States. I have two questions in this essay and I try to answer to them:Is Blacks` dance nice from Whites` s point of view ?What the usage of blacks` art for the American culture?

Ethnicity or Race?

I have to sign of one point before starting my discussion. “Racism is a word that came into general usage in the 1930s” (Miles.1989:42 ). It was at first a positive term launched by fascists to describe the important they assigned to them became the central term to express intellectual critiques of fascism. Race was affected by the vicinity to racism. In scholarly language, after World War 2 “race” slowly began to displace by “ethnicity” so that Irish-American, for example, did not remain a “race” but became a “ethnic group”. So it seems for discussing about whites and black’s cultural challenge, reference to both of them becomes true, because according to the Academic Racism we have two approach to blacks, “first the Europe’s like Darwin, David Hume and Immanuel Kant who categorized the Negroes naturally and biologically from whites and second, the German philosophers like Hegel who simply declared African is no historical part of the world.”(1) I think some of attitudes about black race roots from their situation compare to whites especially in USA. Slavery seems has had more relation with this problem.

From Slavery to Racism

By 1660, slavery had emerged in several colonies as a legal institution (Hornsby. 2005:143). “Between 1640 and 1660, some evidence, though rather scant, ambiguous, and at times even contradictory-suggests a debasement of African labor and, in some cases, black labor in perpetuity. Shreds of fragmentary evidence exist for the period 1619- 40, but the scarcity of such evidence makes conclusions tentative.”Some of scholars argue that economic factors in particular, the rise of plantation slavery led to institutionalized slavery and racism.I think not only enslaver cause to create high feeling between whites, but also it had more important influence on black nation: down feeling! Blacks from the seventeen century to the present believe that they belong to downer race, statue, less or more! Although black always fighting for attach his natural rights and for example in American civil war, the role of African American is not denial able but It seems this racial situation which we could talk about it in frame of words, as I said, make “doubtful striving” that Du Bois believes “has often made his (black) very strength to lose effectiveness, to seem like absence of power, like weakness.”(Du bois: 3)

Try! But don’t think so anybody pay attention to you!

“The Negro minister or doctor”, “black savant” or African American artists have some contrast when they serve the people, as Du Bois said. It seems this contrast is rooted from their status situation that is called: Status Inconsistency Status Inconsistency is situation when an individual’s social positions have both positive and negative influences on his social status. For example, a doctor will have higher status than a factory worker, generally, but a black doctor has downer status than a white factory, because of his race! So this situation cause to confusion and doubt in the soul of the black artist too, his dancing and singing beauty revealed to him is soul-beauty of race which his larger audience despised, and he could not articulate the massage of another people! So I have main question! Is not nice Black’s art in White’s eyes?The music in USA is used for some purposes, like “Hate music” (Roy Wilson.1995:198) or Pop or ragtime music. These popular cultures also rooted from some elements like the immigration’s cultures.

Dance in the sticky mud

Ren`ee Zellweger, Cathwrine Zeta Jones and Richard Gere in 2002 played in “Chicago” which was the version of “Roxie Hart” Roxi Gere in 1942 (2) .Although Chicago has not exactly like her original film, but it is reminiscent of nice version of “Black Bottom” that was played by Giner Rogers in 1942.Black Bottom that its other names are The Filck, The Side Shuffle, the Walk and Five Step (1920s) comes to USA from Black culture!

“Black Bottom (aka Swanee Bottom) was originally from New Orleans, later worked its way to Georgia and finally New York. Some say the Black Bottom was introduced by blues singer “Alberta Hunter”(3). Some newspapers say it is of the Mississippi Negros trying to dance in the sticky mud (2/12/1927 – Davenport Democrat and Leader). But why BLACK BOTTOM? Perry Bradford’s sheet music had the music as well as the dance instructions printed on them. Bradford says that he first saw the Dance done in Jacksonville and decided to write a song about it in 1907 called the ‘Jacksonville Rounder’s Dance’ which used the term “Black Bottom” to describe the dance, but the song was not popular because “Rounder” meant “Pimp” (for the Pimp Walk) and no one wanted to dance to it, so he re-wrote the song and titled it the ‘Original Black Bottom Dance’ in 1919 which he introduced in Nashville Tennessee. In 1926 the Black Bottom became the rage and replaced the Charlston, also done at the Apollo Theater in 1927 with the George White Scandals. The Five Step, Varsity Drag and the Lowdown tired to replace the Black Bottom, but only the Low Down (a sensuous shiver and a flutter of the hips) actually made a real attempt.

What is the usage of African American music?

I want to came back to my first question before starting this part: Is Blacks` dance nice from Whites` s point of view? The answer could be Yes or No but one thing is clear: the African American music in American culture! Another question is this: What the usage of black’s art for American culture? “Early African American music- spirituals, Gospel and Blues reflected the poverty and oppression of slaves in the South”.(Roy Wilson.1995:200). The only thing the slaves were able to bring with them to this country was expressed through their music. African American music become popular in the nineteen century after the civil war and its popular from known was ragtime that Black Bottom is one of its kinds, 1920s was a decade when prohibition was in effect and illegal drinking was promoted in speakeasies, which played music and allowed people to enjoy themselves by dancing the Charleston. This music contributed to all of class. So after that Jazz music came and the culture was changing during this period as new music, new dances, new styles of dress and new modern cods began altering people’s behavior. Women began smoking and drinking and listening to jazz in speakeasies! They wore short “flapper” dresses and did the Charleston and other “shimmy dances”.

Black Bottom as American back yard

So I want to came back to my second question! It seems the answer is near. The ethnic group, who regards themselves higher statue, could do abnormal actions in downer ethnic group’s culture, the other culture. Pay attention to this name: BLACK BOTTOM. The people, who didn’t agree “Rounder”, accept another name with black roots! In the other means they could do “illegal” actions and “enjoy themselves by dancing Charleston” in African American Music’s frame.

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