Friday, October 15, 2010

Elvis A Racist?

Many have been led to believe that Elvis could have not been one of the leading figures in the Civil Rights movement as far as music is concerned because of well known quote that he supposedly said, “The only thing niggers can do for me is buy my records and shine my shoes”. In addition to this speculated quote, it is also believe that some of greatest songs were stolen and that his entire style as an artist were stolen from a black man, hence he grew up in a Christian church with a mostly black congregation. And if he stole the style of rock and roll from the African American then who is to say that the producers that supported Elvis and his crossover image are influential in the Civil Rights Movement. Credited that they are, but shouldn’t that be considered unconsciously? Because at the end of the day, those behind the music were out to make their money with upcoming artists as they circulated in and out of recording studios. To this day I have yet to visit Graceland nor ever thought to have the desire to because my mother used to always tell me that he was a racist and I shouldn’t want to go there. As a child I believed it, but now that I’m older I don’t really know what to believe concerning the matter, and it doesn’t concern me anymore because I never listen to his music. But to the Elvis Presley fan how would that come across to you, if someone you thought of as a musical icon and popular culture activist was considered to be racist in their time. Wasn’t the main point of the man that discovered Elvis was to find a white crossover of what people consider Rock n Roll? Whether he stole the music or the image, music is considered to be universal and shared by artists all around. Each one learns from the veterans and people they look up to. Then again, people would try to discredit the notion that Elvis was racist by presenting pictures of other African American musicians, though never with the common black folk. Aren’t there so many other images to whites who might be considered racist pictured at outings with well-known musicians? This goes back to what I said in class that in music there is no color. There is no color in music because music is so recycled that there is neither beginning nor end and to credit one person is to discredit all other musicians who have made a difference and influenced and improved the universal culture of music that we see today and its impact on society. So whether Elvis was racist or not that doesn’t discredit the impact that he made musically during the civil rights movement. Even picking up an image from previous artists, at the end of the day music is music and everyone listens to it. The music you listen to is based on how you feel and the impact that it has on you which is what music essential had done and continues to do. You don’t discredit Destiny’s Child for their similarity to the Supremes (That’s the best I could do). Which on another note bothers, it me when my family asks me, because my taste in music is so versatile from rap to classical, “why do you listen that white folk music”? Well why do they limit themselves to black music only? Music is more about feeling and not the person who is performing.

1 comment:

  1. This is really interesting Brittany. I think that one of the problems in mainstream America is the fact that most people view things categorically within the spheres of racism or classism. When it comes to music, I totally agree that people borrow ideas from each other all the time. I wouldn't blame Elvis for being the "King" because in actuality, he did just enough to be dynamic. Yes, we all have our personal views and preferences, and he may have said some racist things, but that doesn't defy the fact that he was a good artist. One thing that bothers me also is the fact that people view music as "black music" and "white music." Music is not a human and therefore it does not have a racial identity. Each individual is not entitled to only a particular genre because of the culture that they come from. I think that it comes from a lack of education and a stubbornness to move forward, that people use terms such as these.