Blacks as working class heroes

One hundred fifty years before rap, the same social synthesis and signification.

Michael D. Harris:

(W. T. Lhamon in Raising Cain) suggests that the black figure became a metaphor for the outsider, a means for working class whites to resist the downtown Knickerbockers and stiff necks: “Abstracting themselves as blacks allowed the heterogeneous parts of the newly moiling younger works access to the same identity tags. Irish, German, French, Welsh, and English recenet immigrants as well as American rustics, cold all together identify in the 1830s with Jim Crow, Bone Squash, and Jumbo Jim,  then in the forties with Tambo and Bones. . . . Precisely because middle-class aspirants disdained the black jitterbug in every reign, the black figure appealed all across the Atlantic as an organizational emblem for workers and the unemployed. Hated everywhere, he could be championed everywhere alike.” (51)

Colored Pictures: Race and Visual Representation. Chapel Hill NC: University of North Carolina Press. 2003.



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