racism and cultural appropriation


Slave Songs of the United States: The Classic 1867 Anthology ...

My copy of this book came recently. I am disappointed. None of the melodies I would like to use  in a composition are in this book. I have spent the last hour or so researching Negro Spirituals online. Surely there has been a ton of research around this topic. I already have  a good collection of resources, but I’m still poking around online. I miss being able to request a book from another library, but I have downloaded some recent articles on the topic to read and browse.

I’m on chapter 9 of Kendri’s How to Be an Anti-racist. It builds a more clear platform about the topic than his Stamped from the Beginning which I have also read. Also, he very artfully frames his ideas and tells his own life story in relation to them. Very clever.

His distinction between Behavioral Racist and Behavioral Antiracist helped me thinking about music and race.

In the past few decades there has been some serious discussion about whether people who are not African American can play Jazz (or Blues or Gospel).  This has struck me as a very weak contention from the beginning. I can easily list off many non-African American jazz musicians.

I think the question is about integrity and cultural appropriation. Since I can play and a little Jazz, blues, and gospel, I look at this as a player and composer.

I’m working on a composition that might possibly include Negro Spirituals,

Kendri is clear. Behavioral Racism is  “making individuals responsible for the perceived behavior of racial groups and making racial groups responsible for the behavior of individuals.”

You can see how this might apply to cultural appropriation. Culture is very different from race. I think about over arching American cultural which encompasses a wide variety of behavior. Eclecticism is part of my basic understanding of American culture. Mixing up stuff is basic to many musical genres I am interested in.  It’s clear to me when I am appropriating and when I am dipping into a mix not to mention my own memory and experience.

For what it’s worth, here is Kendri’s definition of a Behavioral Antiracisit: “One who is making racial group behavior fictional and individual behavior real.”

Kendri rocks!


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