Not a black thing, Part 1
Noah B. Stephens’ article (“White people, black music,” Metro Times, May 7-13) does not so much expose a cultural phenomenon as it catalogues the social naïveté of a group of white college students. His article straddles the precipice of a broader generalization about white kids who happen to like black music but who are cultural “hijackers” in Stephens’ mind.
Racists will listen to music that condemns racism just like haters and segregationists will seize upon the words of Christ to justify their hatred. Once the idea is cast into the stream of consciousness, anyone can receive it. Music that finds its genesis in the black experience has become so divorced from its original sources that it has become sadly preposterous to characterize it legitimately as “black” music. Such music has become as much part of the American cultural milieu as other forms of music and art that have been embraced and have evolved within the current of the American cultural experience. To claim the music as “his” is as simple-minded as to reject the music as “not his.” By doing so, Mr. Stephens simply espouses the same views he attempts to condemn. —Eric J. Smith, Pontiac
Not a black thing, Part 2
To Noah B. Stephens: Hip hop’s roots were derived from the white folk singer Bob Dylan in the early 1960s. Do your research or you will never elevate past being just a no-name journalist for a free paper like Metro Times. —Paul C., aka Jam Master PC, parts unknown
Regarding Stephen Priest’s critique of Springsteen’s The Rising (“Quelling Springsteen’s The Rising", Metro Times, May 7-13): Good rock journalism about an album released more than a year ago ought to inspire fans and detractors alike to reconsider their positions. In this sense Priest’s review succeeds. His analysis, however, goes seriously off-track with overly broad generalizations like, “Art is about capturing or celebrating or lamenting moments that may otherwise go unchronicled.” Oh?
Seeing what others miss is one task for art, but it’s an impoverished view of the job of artists to suggest they ignore world events and instead spend their time telling smaller stories that might otherwise have been ignored. In other words, I believe we need Charles Bukowski telling us the stories of the down and out neither more nor less than we need Phil Ochs singing the headlines. Artists like Springsteen set a tough task for themselves by telling us about what we already know — or, more precisely, what we think we already know. The best works of this sort help us see events from a different perspective, which is one of the great accomplishments of The Rising. —Dr. David J. Jackson, Bowling Green, Ohio
Why we should run
Jack Lessenberry says the Green Party shouldn’t run a presidential candidate next year and wants us Greens to vote for a Democrat (Politics and Prejudices, Metro Times, May 7-13). Sorry, Jack. In the last off-year, Democrats lost miserably, because traditional Democratic voters no longer turn out for the pro-business Democratic Party. The next presidential election looks like a rerun. The Democratic Party’s front-runner is Joe Lieberman, a longtime cheerleader for the war in Iraq who co-sponsored the Senate resolution authorizing the war. Lieberman also favors school prayers, vouchers and NAFTA. He is often found in coalition with the religious right opposing “amoral” entertainment and favoring war. As the former chair of the pro-business Democratic Leadership Council that controls the party, he religiously promotes the corporate agenda.
If it weren’t for the Greens and Nader no one would have challenged corporate power in the last presidential election. Lessenberry doesn’t seem to understand, even at this late date, that we need the Green Party because both the Democratic and the Republican Parties are controlled by the rich and powerful and are beholden to them and they are not capable of reforming themselves. —George Corsetti, Wayne County Green Party Committee, [email protected], DetroitSend comments to [email protected]