From Farai

'Cause I'm White, Y'all (Supposedly)

So, I had a VERY interesting conversation yesterday with a good friend of mine. She works in the hip hop industry and was telling me how Burning Man (which I have been to many times) was about to "cross over" with the hip hop community. Apparently a bunch of prominent rappers are interested in going out to the annual festival.

And then we got on the broader question of what was hot, who we were listening to, etc. And she said, "You're my white black friend" — meaning that I listen to rock as well as rap; and that I circulate among folks of many hues.

So I lit that phrase on fire. "Black people invented rock 'n roll," I said. "And being diverse is part of the black tradition. Think of all the black internationalists from W.E.B. DuBois on."

After a while she started laughing, saying, "I knew that would get a rise out of you."

And ... the kicker is ... her father is black; her mother is white. She's had to tote the bale of other peoples' cultural expectations of her. She loves rock. She used to be a COUNTRY DJ, for God's sake!

But still, although she was kinda/sorta joking, she clings to a bit of the idea that idea that being broad minded is "acting white"... feh, I say. Feh!

But, what is white anyway? Tomorrow we're going to tackle the topic of how kids learn about race.

And we came across an interesting, entirely unscientific survey that asks people to mark whether people from certain countries are white. The most interesting thing, to me, is looking at other peoples' responses.

Meanwhile, while I am stamping my black card for the millionth time, this is one of my favorite comedy scenes of all time, from the movie CB4.



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Hi Farai--

Don't you think this particular spot of race/identity paradox is about to be totally blown up by the Obama phenomenon?

Sent by Leon Wynter | 3:19 PM | 6-11-2008

Hank Williams invented Rock & Roll in 1947 with Move It On Over.

Sent by Charlie Patton | 4:38 PM | 6-11-2008

If I'm reading this right, sounds like your friend is in denial about a lot of things.

Sent by JC | 4:51 PM | 6-11-2008


Your exchange with your friend reminded me of various exchanges and/or perceptions of folks about me. Several years ago, I was humming an Aerosmith's song from the radio. When a black colleague asked me who sang the song I was humming and I told him, he shook his head and said he REALLY needed to check my "black" card.

Don't even get me started when I lived on campus in college and new roommates saw my first name on the door. Most of the time, they didn't know who and what to expect. I guess I shattered all kinds of perceptions.

Then last year, a friend who's black came to visit me and saw Flavor of Love playing on the TV set. She looked at the TV one more time and looked at me and said "you know people will not know you hold a graduate degree with some of your ridiculous viewing habits."

Sent by Moji | 12:36 PM | 6-12-2008

Classic CB4. MC Gusto, Dead Mike, and Stab Master Arson. Great call, Farai.

Sent by Thomas B. | 7:59 PM | 6-17-2008

to C Patton - ah dude as much as white folks would love to claim rock and roll it is an upbeat form of mississippi delta "BLACK" blues... in fact, rock commences with the inception of Louis Jordan recordings from March 1939 with tracks like "Keep A Knockin'" which later got covered and popularise by Little Richard. Fact is Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Leverne Baker, Big Mama Thorton, Big Joe Turner and Little Richard. Elvis copied mostly tunes of black blues artists whose pressings were pulled and destroyed in place of Elvis's covers...

Mr. Williams might to first at country HonkieTonk but not rocknroll. Go get yourself some Big Joe Turner sides and some Louis Jordan...and a box of chicken wings.. cause the juke joint is gonna get wet walls once the sax man starts walking the bar.. see when the 1920s depression came in out when the big bands and all that liddy hopping and jitterbugging but blacks folks were not done yet making the floorboards bend and grind so big bands because small combos playing in bars and small clubs instead of big dance halls and VIOLA! sax and piano became the driving force in creating a newer sound similar to big 1920s dance band show. Hence, jittering become jookin' and jookin' become rockin' because when the sax man started wailin and walkin the bar... the joint was jumpin i mean rockin.

Best rock guitar's of all time -- Jimi Hendrix -4 track or 8 track nobody has yet mastered playing a melody lead simultaneously with a lead solo on top.. Prince is good knocking on the Hendrix ceiling but no break yet.. Lenny K. trying but not flying. Chuck Berry honorary godfather of the sound.

Best living rocknroll pianist - Little Richard.

Best rocknroll vocalist - Ms. LaVerne Baker.

Sent by K MJUMBE | 2:00 AM | 6-18-2008

oops errantum: Paragraph one: should read: Fact is Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Leverne Baker, Big Mama Thorton, Big Joe Turner and Little Richard are all pioneers and founders of rock and roll. The true kings as well as queens of this art form.

Paragraph two: Mr. Williams might be the first...

Sent by K MJUMBE | 12:01 AM | 6-19-2008