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Introduction Tam trying in this book, by means of analogy and some at- tention to historical example, to establish certain general conclusions about a particular segment of American society. This book should be taken as a strictly theoretical en- deavor. Theoretical, in that none of the questions it poses can be said to have been answered definitively or for all time, ete. In fact, the book proposes more questions than it will answer. The only questions it will properly move to answer have, I think, been answered already within the pat- terns of American life, We need only give these pattems se- rious scrutiny and draw certain permissible conclusions. ‘The Negro as slave is one thing. The Negro as American is quite another. But the path the slave took to “citizenship” is what I want to look at. And I make my analogy through the slave citizen's musio—through the music that is most closely associated with him: blues and a later, but parallel development, jazz. And it seems to me that if the Negro represents, oris symbolic of, something in and about the na- ture of American culture, this certainly should be revealed by his characteristic music. In other words, I am saying that if the music of the Negro Introduction | °° °° | ix ature of the Negro’ "vealed, as well as nature of this country, i, Blues, had, and still has, of its inventors. What T an or repositioning of this cates changes in the Ne ought to » Society as a whole, certain weight in the am proposing is that the alter weight in those same psy ‘gro that are manifested ext weight of the blues for the a ed individual, diffe weight of that same musie in the temporary American Negroe definite things about the fies catia with even more certainty, know things ate contemporary American Ne te o to the drastic change ship” is his music. There are psyches of most co we know certain eo slaves. We als, ut the lives of the pbroes. The one peculiar referent in the Negro from slavery to “citizen. definite stages There stages in the Negro’s tr i from African to American: or, at leas to at yery apparent changes in the Ni 's er Apenel from (pe arent changes in the Negro's reactions to Annet ent tae une Of his first importation as slave until treet hat can, I think, be seen uth : —and again, [ Ganges are most graphic in his music. Thave eres eo phic in his music. I h ie tinize each one of os aeleona nee ch one of these stages as closely as T contd ‘ith musical as well as a soci sical I as a sociological and anthropological e1 phasis. If we take 1619, tw: i © 1619, twelve years town in 1607, as the date of the first imy into this country to stay ( a time to do odd jobs, after the setiling of James. portation of Negroes not to be merely brought here for cte., and then be bumped off, as was I seratiny, something about 8 existence in this country va r ‘ something about the essen ist Atias slaves when they worked i ches ration ches indi. ternally, | slave, the rs radically from States, did not sing blues, Undoubtedly, none of the African prisoners broke out into St. James Infirmary the minute the 3o know that the first African slaves, when they worked in those ficlds, if they "sang or shouted at all, sang or shouted in some pure African, dialect (either from the parent Bantu or Sudanic, with maybe eyen the Hamitic as a subbase, which would include Coptic, Berber, or Cushitic). But there are no records of 12-bar, AAB songs in those languages—at least none that would show a direct interest in social and agricultural problems in the Southern US. (although, it should be noted here, and I will go into it further in the chapter on Africanisms, the most salient characteristic of African, or at least West African, music is a type of song in which there is a leader and a ‘chorus; the leading lines of the song sung by a single voice, the leader's, alternating with a refrain sung by the chorus. Itis easy enough to see the definite analogy between a kind of song in which there is a simple A-B response and a kind of song that could be developed out of it to be sung by one person, where the first line of the song is repeated twice (leader), followed by a third line (chorus), sometimes thymed but usually dissimilar, and always a direct com- ment on the first two lines. And then we know of the patois- type languages and the other half-African languages that sprang up throughout the South, which must, after a time, have been what those various laments, chants, stories, ete., were told and sung in. But what I am most anxious about here is the American Negro. When did he emerge? Out of what strange incunab- ula did the peculiar heritage and attitudes of the Ameri- can Negro arise? 1 suppose it is technically correct to call any African who was brought here and had no chance of ever leaving, from that very minute when his residence and his life had been changed irrevocably, an American Negro. But it is imperative that we realize that the first slaves did not believe they would be here forever. Or even if they did, Introduction | * Ia they thought of themselves as merch ica, was a foreign land. These peopl Spoke in a Ianguage which was not colonial Americans an] the only Western customs or mores of whieh they had any {dea at all wero that every morning at a certain tine tain work kad to be done and that they asked to do it. And the point Iw. I cite the beginning Negroes. Or, let me ly captives. This, Amer le were foreigners, they cer- would probably be vant to make most evident here is that of blues as one beginning of American ve years and leam twenty words of n a small house from which you leave only to work, I don’t think we ean call you a Mongolian, 1 ORY shen you begin to accept the idea that you are part uu can be said to be a permanent resi dent. I mean, that until the time when you have suffices ideas about this new country to begin making some lasting moral generalizations about it —relating your experience, in sane tasting form, in the language of that country, with § existence in America passed down in any pure African tongue, The stories, myths, moral examples, etc, given in African were about Africa, When Americn became Important enough to the African to be passed on, in thors formal renditions, to the young, those rendition, were fy some kind of Afro-Ameriedn language, And finally, when a Th, looked up ia some anonymous field and shouted, “On, Alun tired a dis mess,/Oh, yes, Alm so tited a dis mess” you can be sure he was an American, Introduction [+ * © © | sii 1/.... The Negro as Non-American: Some Backgrounds When black people got to this country, they were Africans ei . Their customs, attitudes, desires, nr oa Tclfrentplacy, a radially diferent ie, What auweird and unbelievably cruel destiny for howe peopl who vere fist brought here, Not jst the mere fact of etn eu ino slaven-—tht in itself was common practice among the tribes of West Africa, and the economic system in which these new slaves were to form so integral a part weak strange either. In fact, Melville Herskovits paints out, 3 "i ery [had] long existed in the entire region [of W me Atal and in at least one of its kingdoms, Dahomey, a Jlantation system was found under which an absentee ae = with the ruler as principal, demanded the eet tarm from the estates, and thus created conditions of labor resembling the regime the slaves were to enc oe New Wan"* Bat to be Brought toa country, aclu, 8 society, that was, and is, in terms of purely’ pl losophical correlatives, the complete antithesis of on rsion of ‘man's life on earth—that is the cruelest asp: SEE SARIGET Wo was enlaved by Africans, or for that mat- The Mythof the Negro Post (Boston, Beacon Press 3942), p. 62.