What Did We Do To Be So Black And Blue Summary

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In the article “What Did We Do to Be So Black and Blue?”, Scott DeVeaux discusses issues involving jazz and race – more specifically, the involvement of white musicians in what many people consider a “black music”. He starts the article with his first exposure to jazz history (392). Flipping through a textbook, he sees that all the pictures were of black musicians…except for the final author’s page, which revealed a picture of a white author. DeVeaux finds himself thinking “what’s he doing there?” and then realizes he can ask the same thing about himself, “what am I doing here?” (392, 393). He answers this question by reviewing three books: Gene Lees’ Cats of Any Color, David Meltzer’s Reading Jazz, and James Lincoln Collier’s Jazz: The American …show more content…

Collier objects to this by claiming that there is no direct evidence that jazz was created by the black community (409). Creoles played an important role in early jazz, but in general, they were very different from other African Americans. They even saw themselves as “inheritors of a European tradition” (410). Because of this, Collier believes that jazz did not originate from “the experience of black Americans” like DeVeaux says (406). Collier did not consider Creoles to be a part of the generalized black experience, so jazz should not be considered “black”. DeVeaux’s rebuttal nullifies Collier’s reasoning. DeVeaux says that even though the Creoles disliked being associated with black African Americans, they were still of African descent (411). DeVeaux also brought out that they were just as likely as other black Americans to be called racist names, so the general black experience should be expanded to include them (411). DeVeaux also criticizes Collier for being selective. Collier doesn’t talk about important black musicians who were highly influential in early jazz. DeVeaux cites cornetist Chris Kelly as an example, who Collier only mentions as that – an important cornetist. He also lists off others, including the Dodds brothers, Joe “King”, and Buddy Bolden (411). Collier conveniently left them out so that they wouldn’t …show more content…

Some people consider jazz to be a “black music”, so white musicians should not be included in the history of it. Others think it’s unfair to call jazz a “black music” or that white musicians need to be given more credit in jazz history. DeVeaux argues that jazz music has origins in traditional African musical culture and is based on the experience of African Americans, so it should be considered black music. But at the same time, he also argues that white musicians did play an important role in jazz, both from a consumption and production standpoint. This fact should not be ignored because to do so would be to rewrite history. This should never be done even if doing so might be considered good for social movements. DeVeaux sensitively found a middle ground, so his argument could mean unity for critics who before could only see jazz as either black or white. This article also encourages unity within music and could increase equality in jazz for musicians. Through this groundbreaking article that destroys racial barriers, DeVeaux has successfully answered the question he posed for himself at the beginning of his

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how scott deveaux's article "what did we do to be so black and blue?" discusses issues involving jazz and race — the involvement of white musicians in what many people consider a "black music".
  • Argues that the symbiotic relationship arises from the time before the civil rights act, which abolished segregation, but it's still important today.
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