Saturday, January 27, 2007

Reactionary Piece 2007


Ladies and Gentlemen,
The following essay is nowhere nearly as structured as some of the previous entries on Colonel K Speaks. In fact, it’s more a rant, than anything else.

This week's NY Times Magazine published an article called "Truly Indie Fans,” in which author Jessica Pressler investigates the lives and experiences of black rock fans, or as she dubs them, “blipsters.” While she is optimistic about bands with Black members, such as Bloc Party and TV On The Radio, Pressler fails to touch upon the double standards that have been placed upon black rock fans. I hated her essay so much, I decided to write her an email.

Oh yea..... the piece I’d intended to post this week requires a bit more research. Hopefully, this’ll keep y’all occupied till I get around to finishing it. Enjoy.


Ms Pressler,
I read your article "Truly Indie Fans" in today's New York Times Magazine. While I found it to be an enjoyable read, I take issue with some of the points you raised.

"But 40 years after black musicians laid down the foundations of rock, then largely left the genre to white artists and fans, some blacks are again looking to reconnect with the rock music scene."

Firstly, blacks did not "leave” rock music “to white artists and fans."
IT WAS TAKEN FROM THEM.

In the mid 1950s, record labels frequently had white artists, like Pat Boone, re-record Little Richard and Chuck Berry songs so that they would be easier to market to white audiences. It wasn’t until the arrival of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones that the original Black artists were given their due credit. Moreover, your article frequently downplays the influence that Black American culture has left on the last 100 years of international pop music.

To be frank, your article truly fails to touch upon the real problem: The rigid and dated conceptions of race in the United States. In my opinion, Americans are incapable of escaping their obsession with race. In this country there are accepted definitions of “Black” and “White." When an individual questions or defies these definitions, they’re automatically labeled as being an outcast.

So who’s to blame?

Blacks are culpable because they have bought into the idea of “niggerdom.” That is, Black Americans are so brainwashed by hip-hop stereotypes and the poor portrayal of blacks in the media that they have come to believe that their culture lacks variety. They are convinced that if you're not acting like a nigger, you must not be black. This obsession with, I dunno "keeping it real" has even poisoned the Black American work ethic. If a black person is working hard or doing well in school, they are decried for acting "White." Clearly, something is very wrong here.

Whites are equally guilty because they created and continue to propagate many stereotypes. Even worse, Whites have the advantage of a double standard. Today, in 2007, it is still more acceptable for Whites to be into hip-hop than for Blacks to be into rock. And to top it all off, Whites will tell Black rock fans that they’re “Not Black” or “Acting White” without hesitating.

Ms. Pressler, I don't think that you will EVER be able to understand how DEGRADING it is to be called "White" by Black and White Americans simply because you fail to fall into their petty social constructions of race. Mind you, I’m not a black American, I'm a Ugandan-American. For me, being called "White" is not only absurd, it is a deep insult to my heritage and my ancestors.

I understand that you probably wrote this essay with a limited amount of time and research, but I felt it was necessary to write to you because I feel really strongly about this topic.

-Sincerely
Colonel K

PS
Please excuse the occasional outbursts of rage in this email, I have a lot of pent up aggression. Even at 25, I'm still taunted by the hoods across the way for wearing tight trousers and a peacoat!

LINKS TO SOME RELEVANT MOVIES AND OTHER USEFUL STUFF
White Lies: Black Sheep trailer.

AFROPUNK documentary trailer

Ms Pressler's original essay "True Indie Fans"

A big reaction at BrooklynVegan.com

9 comments:

Matthew said...

Very well put, Col. K. I look forward to your finished essay so I can assign it to my students. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

For something that is supposedly a rant, your letter is extremely focused and insightful. Thank you.

James T. said...

That was tight. I can tell you really enjoyed sticking it to that broad. Aint nothing like slapping the one-sided righteous monster that is the man, in the face with your dick.

The K stands for K.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you wrote a response to her Patrick. That article was a great opportunity to explain,and demonstrate against American racist stereotypes

The So Very Loud Jennifer. said...

Col. K., I love it that you cut through the surface stupidity and got right to the point about rock and the black culture. It seems that the American population, more so than many Europen cutlures, is obsessed with putting people into neatly labeled boxes. Color, Age, Culture, Religion, Gender- American's eagerly label everyone, and just as eagerly degrade those that do not fit into their neat little boxes. It is a function of the American Machine- a way to keep the down-trodden down just a little longer. The most pathetic part is: the people whom the American Machine is meant to hurt are often the same people that vehemently hurl these stereotypes at each other in an act to become part of a group, any group, just so they are able to point at the outsider and be oh so content that it is not them.

DaveZiggy said...

damn good stuff, Colonel K. I'm glad you hinged on that seemingly benign comment about the history of rock. I think its interesting that you pointed out blacks can often have an adverse reaction to the success of other blacks. I saw a poll on TV the other day showing that almost two-thirds of blacks prefer Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama. WTF?! No offense to her, but what the hell does she know about being black in America? Why can't we get together and get this guy into office? Bullshit.

david said...

This article really resonates for me. An old buddy who just happens to be black, one of my old college roomies, was a big fan of what we nowadays call Alternative or Indie. In fact, one of his faves was the Pretty in PInk soundtrack! (SHELLSHOCK!) I was one of the first white kids I knew who liked hip-hop and techno. We all liked rock in all forms, jazz and blues too... We grew up in the South, in NC. People thought we were wierdos but hey! Don't be puttin us in any boxes thanks very much!

There is a great old interview of Louis Armstrong in Paris during the 50s, by Edward R Murrow. Murrow tried to pin Satch into the anti-rock camp, but Satch wasn't playin that game. He said, there are only two kinds of music, GOOD and BAD.

dan said...

ahahahahahaha.

i love it, but you really shouldn't take people so seriously. she obviously doesn't really have her shit together. but hey, if she can pass off that she has some knowledge of "culture" to the NYT (and this is not so hard)... she's gettin paid.

the question is, how much can you sell out and continue to misinform the masses for money and still have a clean conscience?

media whores, they're everywhere. usually a few years too late and a little overeager.

Anonymous said...

col. k. i agree with you... we SHOULD start a hip-hop band! white hip-hop by non-white rockers. i'll be the indian you be the ugandan. we'll both wear peacoats. man this is gonna be great, we'll show her.
randy