By Black Hawk Hancock
“Perhaps,” wrote Ralph Ellison greater than seventy years in the past, “the zoot go well with comprises profound political which means; possibly the symmetrical frenzy of the Lindy-hop conceals clues to nice strength power.” As Ellison famous then, a lot of our so much mundane cultural kinds are better and extra very important than they seem, taking over nice importance and an unforeseen intensity of which means. What he observed within the strength of the Lindy Hop—the dance that Life magazine as soon as billed as “America’s precise nationwide people Dance”—would unfold from black the USA to make a long-lasting influence on white the USA and provide us a really compelling technique of realizing our tradition. yet with what hidden implications?
In American Allegory, Black Hawk Hancock bargains an embedded and embodied ethnography that situates dance inside of a bigger Chicago panorama of segregated social practices. Delving into Chicago dance worlds, the Lindy and Steppin’, Hancock makes use of a mixture of participant-observation and interviews to carry to the skin the racial pressure that surrounds white use of black cultural types. concentrating on new kinds of appropriation in an period of multiculturalism, Hancock underscores the institutionalization of racial disparities and provides significant insights into the intersection of race and tradition in the USA.
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Extra resources for American Allegory: Lindy Hop and the Racial Imagination
Without understanding how whiteness operates in its particularities, we cannot begin to grasp how race and culture operate on the ground in everyday life. We must not allow the paradigm of whiteness or white racism to become a fulcrum for moral and value judgments by assigning blame or innocence for unpalatable social facts. Nor can we allow ourselves to analyze racial dynamics solely through the conscious or intentional outcome of white prejudice or racism. Instead, an analytical framework of racial domination oﬀers a more accurate and powerful explanation of the particular phenomena under analysis.
Deep down, the American condition is a state of unease. (Ellison 1994, 508) Despite eﬀorts to ﬁnd footing on solid ground, the complexity of life constantly eludes stability and certainty. As a result it proves diﬃcult to ﬁnd direction or deﬁnition of what culture is and how it deﬁnes the people it a empts to categorize. Because ways of life, with their diverse cultures and histories, are in constant ﬂux, there is no ultimate foundation upon which our understandings of society can rest. The state of unease of which Ellison speaks manifests itself most viscerally in the concept of race, a concept that has so confounded American society that Americans, especially whites, do not know who they are.
Since whiteness forms the foundation of our thinking, the racial categories and ways of looking, perceiving, and apprehending the world that emerge out of it perfectly mirror the way that society is organized, since they are products and reﬂections of the system of which they are constitutive. Therefore, the ideology of whiteness appears seamless and transparent to us in everyday life since it is the bedrock of our taken-for-granted commonsense understanding of the world around us. As a result, our perpetuation of these ideologies is never apparent because our everyday participation in them goes unnoticed.