The N-Word in Music
An American History
Available for pre-order / backorder
About the Book
The minstrelsy play, song, and dance “Jump, Jim Crow” did more than enable blackface performers to spread racist stereotypes about Black Americans. This widespread antebellum-era cultural phenomenon was instrumental in normalizing the N-word across several aspects of American life. Material culture, sporting culture, consumer products, house-pets, carnival games and even geographic landmarks obtained the racial slur as a formal and informal appellation. Music, it is argued, was the catalyst for normalizing and disseminating those two ugly syllables throughout society, well beyond the environs of plantation and urban slavery.
This weighty and engaging look at the English language’s most explosive slur, described by scholars as the “atomic bomb” of bigoted words, traces the N-word’s journey through various music genres and across generations. The author uses private letters, newspaper accounts, exclusive interviews and, most importantly, music lyrics from artists in the fields of minstrelsy, folk, country, ragtime, blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip hop. The result is a reflective account of how the music industry has channeled linguistic and cultural movements across eras, resulting in changes to the slur’s meaning and spelling.
About the Author(s)
Todd M. Mealy
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022