The following article by Chris Kjorness appeared earlier this month at reason.com. If you like the blues and musical history I think you’ll enjoy it.
How Sears, Roebuck & Co. midwifed the birth of the blues
Delta blues is as much legend as it is music. In the popular telling, blues articulated the hopelessness and poverty of an isolated, oppressed people through music that was disconnected from popular trends and technological advances. Delta blues giants like Robert Johnson were victims, buffeted by the winds of racism, singing out mostly for personal solace. The story is undoubtedly romantic, but it just isn’t true. “It angers me how scholars associate the blues strictly with tragedy,” B.B. King complained in his 1999 autobiographyBlues All Around Me. “As a little kid, blues meant hope, excitement, pure emotion.”
The tragic image of the blues that originated in the Mississippi Delta ignores the competitive and entrepreneurial spirit of the bluesman himself. While it is certainly true that the music was forged in part by the legacy of slavery and the insults of Jim Crow, the iconic image of the lone bluesman traveling the road with a guitar strapped to his back is Continue reading I Got Da Blues From Missuh Roebuck’s Catlog→
I’ve never lived in a “gated” community but I do have family and friends who have sought out these types of communities in which to make their homes. While I cannot speak for their reasons I can infer that many people who do so for reasons of security. Whether real or imagined a lot of people today see the world as being a far more dangerous place than what statistics show and real estate developers have not been blind to this knowledge.
Gated communities offer the hope of being neatly tucked away in a safe, secure, corner of the world where you are close to like-minded people who share your looks, your faith, your ideologies, your goals, and your insecurities.
Rich Benjamin, a contributing writer for the New York Times, has lived in many gated communities as he researched a book he wrote on the topic. In yesterday’s NY Times he has a piece about the these kinds of places and how they may have contributed to the events surround the shooting of Trayvon Marton in Sanford, Florida last month.
One-hundred and fifty-years ago America was at war with itself. Many of you enjoy the history of that era and I thought you might enjoy this revelation about the Union General, U.S. Grant. I am not well versed on the Civil War history and this tale came as something of a shock to me. The article appeared on The Daily Beast, March 21, 2012, and was written by Marc Wortman.
“We live in a chilling time for some outside mainstream Christian religious traditions. A presidential candidate feels free to declare that reading John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign speech in support of walling off church and state makes him “want to throw up”and Florida’s governor Rick Scott recently indicated he’ll sign a bill allowing “inspirational messages” (a transparent euphemism for prayer) at public school events because “I believe in Jesus Christ.” They are just the latest in a long line of individuals and groups who have been trying to bulldoze that wall since Thomas Jefferson wisely put it up in the Continue reading What Happened When General Grant Expelled Civil War Jews→
Just checking the headlines and came across two that caught my eye. One concerned a Clovis, NM mayor who publicly made the statement that President Obama is the, “carnal manifestation of evil,” and another about a company marketing a line of extremely racist anti-Obama bumper stickers based on the phrase, “Don’t re-nig in 2012.”
Politics in America has always been a blood sport and division has often spilled over into personal attacks that far exceed the bounds of civility. But, in the 21st Century it amazes me that so much of the old racial hatreds still exist and that a person can keep his political office while public espousing such hatred. I’m further concerned that a company can find a market for a product that does nothing but scream racial hatred. Continue reading My Grannie May Have Been Right→
Melissa Harris-Perry is an African-American professor of political science at Tulane University, a political commentator on MSNBC, and now has her own Saturday and Sunday morning program on that same cable network. She also has a diverse background in African-American History so she is well ready to discuss current media in the context of historical reality.
From that perspective she has been an outspoken critic of the critically acclaimed movie, The Help. I’ve not seen the movie but I know that part of the story line involves the relationships between black maids and the white families they served during the Jim Crow Continue reading The Help, It Has Its Critics→
This is 2012 and one would think that sixty-years after the beginning of the modern civil rights movement and all we’ve been through during these decades we’d be a little better at racism when it slaps us in the face. But, regrettably, such is not the case, and there are those among us who maybe need a refresher course.
So, let’s begin with this photo of President Obama holding an infant and making the kind of face men often make when trying to elicit a smile from a baby. This photo is easily found on the Internet and the caption reads, “Ugly Babies; Testing the will of politicians since FDR.” It appears to have been taken before a mainly black audience and since the baby’s face can’t Continue reading Lesson in Racism→
I’ve been a student of American History for most of my life. The thing that draws me to history is the constant challenge it presents to one’s perception of reality. We all live in a comfort zone and make assumptions that everyone is experiencing what we are and that things have always been as they are. Studying history never stops pulling the rug out from under one’s feet. Just when I thought I couldn’t be shocked, bam!, I’m laying on the floor!