A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews, and American Popular Song

By J, Vernon | Shofar, October 31, 2001 | Go to article overview

A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews, and American Popular Song


J, Vernon, Shofar


A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews, and American Popular Song

The beliefs and values of peoples play a significant role in determining the course of history, for the way events are interpreted is often a result of the particular religious or social beliefs held sacred by a people. People react in terms of what they perceive to be true, and often no amount of debunking -- however artful -- can change these perceptions. In light of this phenomenon, this reviewer finds Jeffrey Melnick's demythologizing of Black-Jewish relations in his A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews, and American Popular Song to be disturbing, yet interesting.

On a general level, Melnick's beautifully written and often humorous polemic is an attempt to demythologize or interrogate -- to use his terms -- the "popular rhetorical formation" of "'Black-Jewish relations.'" This rhetorical formation, which the author states cogently, "has privileged racial-historical analogy over class disparity," is "a romantic tale told about the relative unimportance of class status in melting pot America" (p. 10). Melnick, who recognizes the significance of mythologies as ideals, admits that this Black-Jewish "myth holds out the utopian (post-class or trans-class) possibilities of liberal democracy" (p. 10). And he concedes that from the turn of the twentieth century until the 1950s, the myth was sufficiently malleable to explain "the relationship of these two groups [Blacks and Jews] as natural and abiding" (p. 10). He notes, however, that since the 1950s the disparities in power -- both economic and cultural -- between Blacks and Jews have turned this mythology into what is tantamount to a bad marriage.

Perhaps more controversial is Melnick's contention that the relations between Blacks and Jews have been masculinist in their orientations. He argues unequivocally that a focus on women would have been "deal-breaking" -- primarily because such a mythology would involve issues of miscegenation and domestic labor relations. In short, the author demonstrates convincingly that the mythology has "generally taken place between representatives of male-dominated secular and religious organizations who. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews, and American Popular Song
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.