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Aug 18, 2021 - 1:30:45 PM
10148 posts since 3/19/2009

Recently I viewed a youtube thingy that is featuring Black Fiddlers.. Yep.. One of my personal best friends, David Roberts, is featured and sure enough, he happens to be black.. Funny, I never realized it!!. Anyway, he is featured in a video.. David and I go way back as fiddlers and friends, and he is one of the most fun people to jam with..... I'm thinking.. why focus on a person's race? Doesn't that just encourage thinking in terms of race?? I really don't see David as a black fiddler, I just see him as a fiddler and his race is of no issue to me... Sure I know that his Race is 'black', but who cares??
Comments??

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 08/18/2021 13:39:24

Aug 18, 2021 - 1:54:15 PM
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Swing

USA

2134 posts since 6/26/2007

I agree with what you stated... there is no race issue in music or anything else for me...

Play Happy

Swing

Aug 18, 2021 - 2:08:23 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

951 posts since 6/22/2016

Well, I know that the mere mention of race is enough to increase the heart-rate of many people, but - well, you know fools rush in, etc. I do find it interesting because of the widespread impression that fiddling is the non-sacred music of rural white people while guitar-based Blues is the non-sacred music of rural black people. That's how these musics were marketed for decades, and the marketing worked, so why would it not be interesting when you find out that it was just that - marketing? So, if you have an inquiring mind, you inquire into it - to see if there are significantly different traditions, great fiddlers unknown outside black communities, etc. As far as the title on a video goes - that could be simply clickbait - or it could be because whoever put up the video was surprised to see a black fiddler, for the reason I mentioned, so .... At any rate, I don't think it's going to have much of an effect on race relations one way or the other, so I wouldn't worry about it.

Edit: just looked back at your post and saw that the video "featured Black Fiddlers", so it sounds like it was a kind of project to some degree.  Can't see why that should bother anybody - but then, that's the view from over the hills and far away.

Edited by - Old Scratch on 08/18/2021 14:12:45

Aug 18, 2021 - 2:40:50 PM
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10148 posts since 3/19/2009

So, I have mixed feelings.. While I'm happy that David was a featured player, I only wish they had featured him as an Indiana/New-York fiddler and not make reference to race.. but then, what is, IS...!! I understand that people often take great pride in their various origins......but to me it seems that it doesn't help our world get past 'race' as long as we keep separating ourselves by race, for whatever reason...!! Fiddlers are fiddlers.. Period. There! I said it.cheeky

Aug 18, 2021 - 5:01:30 PM
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WyoBob

USA

386 posts since 5/16/2019

quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver

So, I have mixed feelings.. While I'm happy that David was a featured player, I only wish they had featured him as an Indiana/New-York fiddler and not make reference to race.. but then, what is, IS...!! I understand that people often take great pride in their various origins......but to me it seems that it doesn't help our world get past 'race' as long as we keep separating ourselves by race, for whatever reason...!! Fiddlers are fiddlers.. Period. There! I said it.cheeky


I'd like this post more than once, if I could.

I've never been proud of being "white".  It is what it is.  I am proud that I was brought up by good parents to value the things that, I imagine, most folks on the forum value.   Honesty, integrity, compassion and being the best person I can be. 

I really liked Dr. King's thoughts of judging people by their character, not the color of their skin.   To me, that really hit home and pretty much says it all.   There's dang sure a segment of the white population that I want nothing to do with and I'm sure not proud of them.   There's some in other "communities" that I sure don't want anything to do with.  I don't think that makes me racist.  Just particular.  I don't care what color anyone is.  But, I do care about the values that people have.  

Aug 18, 2021 - 6:19:31 PM
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25 posts since 9/7/2020

I enjoy oldtime music in large part for the way that it connects me to people of the past. Despite this music's diverse and complicated history, it is almost entirely coded as white music these days.

For that reason, I can understand why some people think it's important to highlight black players of oldtime music. I don't know if it's the best way, but I do think breaking that coding as whites-only is important

Aug 18, 2021 - 6:49:22 PM
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2043 posts since 12/11/2008

Prejudice and enforced separation inevitably led to separate streams of folk music, especially in the era before recordings. Thankfully, there have been unmistakable strides since that time, but that doesn't mean we can't note and appreciate the artistic differences that did result from that sorry time.

Aug 18, 2021 - 7:00:37 PM
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5848 posts since 9/26/2008

quote:
Originally posted by goatberry_jam

I enjoy oldtime music in large part for the way that it connects me to people of the past. Despite this music's diverse and complicated history, it is almost entirely coded as white music these days.

For that reason, I can understand why some people think it's important to highlight black players of oldtime music. I don't know if it's the best way, but I do think breaking that coding as whites-only is important


Yep.

And black fiddlers and banjo players had a strong influence on the rhythms that make southern fiddling what it is, there's no denying that. 

Fiddling is like anything else that the general public isn't into and with all of the things competing for their attention, it's hard to make it seem cool to the next generation. 

Aug 18, 2021 - 7:50:28 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

951 posts since 6/22/2016

"separate streams of folk music, especially in the era before recordings" - Actually, it seems it was the era of recordings that separated some of the rivers into streams .....

Aug 18, 2021 - 8:35:27 PM
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775 posts since 8/10/2017

Not thinking about race is something only white people get to do. Not thinking about gender is something only men get to do.

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Aug 19, 2021 - 4:43:01 AM
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13313 posts since 9/23/2009

So many people beat me to expressing my own idea. Diane nailed it totally. If you live your life as a woman, you're not necessarily counted among the ones who do whatever it is you do...so many times I've felt like the little weak cute anomaly in the crowd (not that I'm cute, just that I'm supposed to be_)...not really one of the gang, you know. If you live your life as anything other than white, you don't have the privilege of not understanding how color blindness negates it all.

Bottom line...yes, Black fiddlers should be celebrated...Women fiddlers should be celebrated...everything in between...inclusion just hasn't happened yet.

Aug 19, 2021 - 5:47:14 AM
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316 posts since 4/15/2019

why do we need black fiddlers and white fiddlers? Why not just fiddlers? Does being black or white have anything to do with how good we are? Do we need to know the color of a man or woman's skin to judge how he plays a fiddle?

Aug 19, 2021 - 11:01:15 AM
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183 posts since 11/24/2018

I know that you mean well, and I always appreciate your input in different discussions. I think that the question is a good one to open up a discussion.
Perhaps your friend takes a lot of pride in the fact that he is a practitioner of an art form that has been associated to rural whites throughout the 20th century, even though a lot of old-time southern music is rooted in black culture.

You're right to point out that race shouldn't be a factor in ones personal enjoyment of the music or level of talent. Perhaps it wasn't his case and he was always widely accepted wherever he went, but for black fiddlers out there, it must be tiring to always have to answer the same questions and feel as though you need to justify the reasons why you like to play the fiddle. His blackness comes with its own unique history and his motivations to keep on playing are maybe different than a white fiddler.

The debate is a valid one, but I don't think that it is a particularly helpful starting point to negate one's upbringing and past.

One of my very good friends is of Cambodian descent. Her father survived the Khmer Rouge genocide. I don't constantly think about her 'asian-ness' when talking to her, and it would be unhealthy to do so.  That being said, her family's recent history is much different than my own, and it would be wrong to just want to erase everything that they went through and lump them into some melting pot. 

Edited by - Hoodoo on 08/19/2021 11:06:47

Aug 19, 2021 - 11:09:29 AM
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13313 posts since 9/23/2009

John, it shouldn't matter at all...as a society, though, doesn't seemed we've arrived at that point yet.

When I was in a little BG band around here...another band we knew of and saw a lot had a woman mando/banjo player...she was like lightning on her instruments. Our head guy, banjo guy, asked her how she got so good...she said something like she practiced like 16 hours a day, knowing she had to play those licks twice as good as any man just to be perceived as an equal. He told us, our band, he thought that was horrible to say. I was like..."No, Barry, it's the truth...you wouldn't know about that, being a guy."

Aug 19, 2021 - 11:22:02 AM
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775 posts since 8/10/2017

Preach, Peggy. Same thing happens at work. You cannot be a mediocre programmer if you're a lady, but if you are a mediocre male programmer not only will you be perceived as a full-fledged valuable member of the team but you'll be paid at least 20-50K more per year while putting in half the work and creating 90% of all the bugs.

Aug 19, 2021 - 11:30:33 AM
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Old Scratch

Canada

951 posts since 6/22/2016

Besides, if were 'true' or not, it was - sorry - 'her truth' - and as such, an honest, forthright answer: she believed that she had be twice as good, so she put in the work to accomplish that. So would that guy prefer she made up some kinder, gentler story?

Aug 19, 2021 - 11:35:37 AM
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183 posts since 11/24/2018

By the way, i'm not suggesting that we constantly apologize and flog ourselves with whips for things that happened in the past. Over the past few years, there were a few books about 'anti-racism' that jumped to the top of best seller lists, and although i'm speaking as a white person, I feel that a lot of the messaging out there is belittling towards black people. 

Its actually awesome that one of your good fiddling buddies is an african-american and that everybody gets along just fine. The point is just to be able to acknowledge others and be empathetic towards their reality.

Here is a good article from The Atlantic that explains things in a much better way than i ever could - Color Blindness Is Counterproductive - theatlantic.com/politics/archi...e/405037/

One thing that I find interesting, and I have no proof and just anecdotal stories in my mind, but whenever I read articles about some old-time fiddler or banjoist from the early 20th century, they always acknowledge that they learned so and so tune from a black fiddler and they found it important to give them the proper credit.

Edited by - Hoodoo on 08/19/2021 11:45:53

Aug 19, 2021 - 12:28:18 PM
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2592 posts since 7/12/2013

This is a great question and one I'm glad you asked. It would be great if everyone was judged on their abilities and not on the color or gender, but unfortunately that is not the case.  We live in a white male privileged world and it means that just because you are white and male you get advantages that other people do not. By claiming colorblindness, we aren't acknowledging that those bias's (often unconscious) exist against those people. Does that mean that white men don't have struggles and adversity, certainly not. There are lots of white men struggling out there. What I am saying is that people of color, women, in the same situation are at an even higher disadvantage.

Take a look at the attached photo and take a guess as to what kind of music this person plays.

.

.

.

.

If people are honest with themselves I think most of us (myself included) would guess that he plays blues, but he plays classical guitar. This is what is called unconscious bias. We all grow up with them I think it's a way for our brains to work faster. But when those unconscious bias's negatively effect other people we need to work on rewiring those.

This video is an amazing video, and one that pointed out my own unconscious biases. There is also a great story about women violinists in here, so I ask that EVERYONE watch it.

Anyway I'm by no means an expert on race/bias's etc. but I am trying to learn more and educate myself on it.

If you want to learn more about it check out the book:

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism - by Robin Diangelo


Aug 19, 2021 - 12:49:22 PM
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13313 posts since 9/23/2009

We have to really climb out of our own experience enough to expand our thinking in order to try to see what others experience. You can't just know, going by what life is like for you.

Aug 19, 2021 - 4:07:25 PM
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775 posts since 8/10/2017

I think also a lot of people have no idea that there are black fiddlers playing Appalachian music. It's simply an interesting fact. It seems pretty uncommon to see black folks jamming old-time music, so it's probably an interesting youtube video worth watching. Perhaps there's some reason this music is so segregated. We have no black folks at our jam. I don't think I saw any at Centralia. Are they rare? Do they just have their own tradition? Why is it segregated? Maybe I'll go find out and learn something.

Aug 19, 2021 - 4:21:21 PM

10148 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by sbhikes2

I think also a lot of people have no idea that there are black fiddlers playing Appalachian music. It's simply an interesting fact. It seems pretty uncommon to see black folks jamming old-time music, so it's probably an interesting youtube video worth watching. Perhaps there's some reason this music is so segregated. We have no black folks at our jam. I don't think I saw any at Centralia. Are they rare? Do they just have their own tradition? Why is it segregated? Maybe I'll go find out and learn something.


Edited by - TuneWeaver on 08/19/2021 16:23:48

Aug 19, 2021 - 8:21:02 PM
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25 posts since 9/7/2020

quote:
Originally posted by sbhikes2

I think also a lot of people have no idea that there are black fiddlers playing Appalachian music. It's simply an interesting fact. It seems pretty uncommon to see black folks jamming old-time music, so it's probably an interesting youtube video worth watching. Perhaps there's some reason this music is so segregated. We have no black folks at our jam. I don't think I saw any at Centralia. Are they rare? Do they just have their own tradition? Why is it segregated? Maybe I'll go find out and learn something.


In my understanding, it's been revised and re-coded as white, unfortunately . . . literally done by white supremacists in the twentieth century.

I really want this construct torn down. It's unfair that black Americans cannot have easy access to this part of their heritage

Aug 19, 2021 - 8:21:43 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

951 posts since 6/22/2016

This contributes nothing to the discussion - but any excuse for a little bit more of The Ebony Hillbillies ... !

Aug 20, 2021 - 4:02:41 AM

13313 posts since 9/23/2009

That's pretty cool...Ebony Hillbillies...but, hopefully we won't have to deconstruct the word, "hillbilly" now...lol. No, no...kidding, just kidding.

Aug 20, 2021 - 5:16:12 AM
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183 posts since 11/24/2018

I once read that billy is derived from scottish slang and it means friend, so hillbilly just means a friend from the hills.

Aug 20, 2021 - 7:58:25 AM
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Earworm

USA

334 posts since 1/30/2018

TuneWeaver, would you be willing to share the YouTube feature that you mentioned? Did you learn anything from the feature, and/or did it set the stage for you to have a deeper conversation with your friend about race?

African Americans absolutely made a great impact on fiddling and old-time music as we know it. Black musicians in the 20's or around that time were eager to move north and understandably wanted to forget everything about the South. Part of that meant that they gave up fiddles, and pretty much exchanged them for guitars. And then of course the record companies had their say and rebranded everything.

Acknowledging Black fiddlers today is crucial to connecting the people to the music, and we all deserve a more complete history of the music we play.

*I've been reading - most recently, "Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics" by Phil Jamison.

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