[Dixielandjazz] Re: Darktown Strutters Ball

Don Kirkman donkirk at covad.net
Tue Mar 15 15:55:20 PST 2005

On Tue, 15 Mar 2005 13:23:13 -0600, LARRY'S Signs and Large Format
Printing wrote:

>Some people are quick to take offense at anything.  I don't know who wrote
>Darktown but I really don't think that it was offensive at the time or even
>the color of the composer.  The point being that I hear some Blacks call
>each other names that would get me killed.  Many of them seem to feel that
>they "own" the words kind of like a copyright.  Remember that at one time
>the N word was politically correct and that we are on a journey to accept
>each other and there are bumps in the road.  Most of us really don't want to
>offend anyone no matter what their religion or color.  Having said all that
>I'm really against changing history or glossing over what has happened.
>That includes the names of tunes.  Please note that Arnold Schwartzenegger
>wouldn't change his name.  In German it's really offensive.

I must be reading in the wrong places.

" And with the origin of Arnold's Surname, it is not so very different.
His ancestors must have been farming; the earth where they were farming
must have been rather black. And one of his ancestor's duties must have
been to harrow the fields. And so his name became Schwarzenegger.
'Schwarz' meaning black, and 'egge' meaning harrow, together 'the person
who harrows black fields'."

I've seen statements on the Web, which I haven't tried to trace or
verify, that Ahnold himself acknowledged this derivation on one of the
late night talk shows a while back.

>----- Original Message ----- 
>From: "Charles Suhor" <csuhor at zebra.net>
>To: "Bill Haesler" <bhaesler at bigpond.net.au>
>Cc: "dixieland jazz mail list" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
>Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2005 12:12 PM
>Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Re: Darktown Strutters Ball

>On Mar 14, 2005, at 10:53 PM, Bill Haesler wrote:

>> I was unaware, from this long distance, that "Darktown Strutters' Ball
>> could
>> be offensive to black audiences. Ella Fitzgerald and Fats Waller
>> recorded it.
>> However, I bow to your knowledge on this one. You are on-the-spot and
>> have
>> observed it....I am simply amazed to learn that the song "Darktown
>> Strutters' Ball is
>> offence to some Blacks,

>Thanks for your straightforward comments, Bill. On this topic, I can’t
>always tell when list mates are being literal or ironic. I hope it’s
>the latter.

>Unpacking the “Darktown” word, it’s not surprising in America that the
>word today carries strong resonance of “Darkies,” a condescending (at
>best) name for slaves and later, for free blacks in Stephen Foster’s
>and others’ songs and in literature, movies, and common parlance. This
>is powerful stuff. If folks just want to say that Black Americans today
>“shouldn’t” be offended, they have an arguable point but I think it’s
>arrogant to dismiss others’ sense of their own history and place in
>American culture.

>The difficult question is, which claims of offensiveness have moral
>force, and which are capricious? I think the “Darktown” complaint is
>right on, whereas, e.g., a recent demand for an apology for a speaker
>who used the word “niggardly” (a big word for “cheap,” of course, with
>etymology in 14th century Middle English) was unfounded and

>Claiming a general contempt for “Political Correctness,” as some have
>done, instead of considering each case of offensive language on its own
>merit is another way of saying, “I don’t want to deal with this.” PC is
>a genuine category of analysis but it has itself become a political
>tool, a big broom for sweeping away any concerns about bias by people
>of color, women, gays, and others whose claims are uncomfortable to us.

Thanks for these words, Charlie.

It all puts me in mind of "Why Don't You Do Right Like Some Other Men
Do?".  The only problem is figuring out what IS right.
donkirk at covad.net

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