African American Women During The 19th Century Essay examples

832 Words Feb 4th, 2016 4 Pages
African Americans have been a part of music since the beginning of time, and not always in the best way possible. From the crude and grotesque humor of minstrelsy to the ridicule and appropriation of ragtime, African Americans have been the punchline to a longstanding joke of stereotypes in pre-1920’s music. With the introduction of sheet music creating a tangible and efficient way to distribute music, the racist representations of African Americans were forever preserved and widely perpetuated as a means of generating popularity and revenue. This is especially true in the case of how composers presented African American women during this period. From 1890-1920, the depictions of African American women in sheet music capitalized upon the public’s fascination and underlying fear of African Americans by fetishizing the appearance of African American women, whilst keeping focus on race relations and creating clear class distinctions. One of the most prominent figures of racism against African Americans in the 1880s was the character of Zip Coon. Created to affirm intended white supremacy, Zip Coon was a misconstrued caricature of an upper class African American. He was commonly dressed in the clothes that are representative of an aristocratic white man, but drawn to an extent where his garb looked ridiculous, thus making his self-perceived social status to be falsely placed. Various pieces of sheet music relating to the African American woman adapted this idea of the Zip Coon…

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