Who Leads This Dance: Reflecting on the Influence of African Americans on Popular Culture
Flynn, Joseph E., Black History Bulletin
Popular culture is a complicated and contested space. The politics of representation are always in play, and across the history of popular culture in the United States there has persisted a strained dance between White Americans and African Americans, wherein African Americans produce cultural artifacts and White Americans create spaces for widespread distribution and consumption. It is essential to recognize this relationship, because for a culture to sustain itself, there must also be a consumption of that culture; otherwise, it will fall into its own idiosyncratic obscurity. But this dance of culture is ultimately a vestige of our racial malaise, and the architects of African American culture have always been aware of their positions in that dynamic--barring those who were swindled out of rightful compensation for their creations.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to talk about a pure African American culture in the sense that how we see ourselves is consistently mediated by the representations we see, and individuals either fight to subvert those representations, blindly accept them, or willfully accept them. Moreover, when White Americans begin to embrace and participate in African American cultural artifacts, how do we make sense of that move? For example, last summer I went to the annual Blues and Jazz Fests in Chicago, a city with a high percentage of African Americans. But as !
walked through Grant Park and observed the …
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Publication information: Article title: Who Leads This Dance: Reflecting on the Influence of African Americans on Popular Culture. Contributors: Flynn, Joseph E. - Author. Magazine title: Black History Bulletin. Volume: 74. Issue: 1 Publication date: Spring 2011. Page number: 32+. © 2007 Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2011 Gale Group.
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