American Allegory: Lindy Hop and the Racial Imagination by Black Hawk Hancock

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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; probably the symmetrical frenzy of the Lindy-hop conceals clues to nice power power.” As Ellison famous then, a lot of our so much mundane cultural types are better and extra very important than they seem, taking over nice value and an unforeseen intensity of that means. What he observed within the strength of the Lindy Hop—the dance that Life magazine as soon as billed as “America’s real nationwide folks Dance”—would unfold from black the US to make a long-lasting effect on white the USA and provide us a very compelling technique of knowing our tradition. yet with what hidden implications?

In American Allegory, Black Hawk Hancock deals 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 mix of participant-observation and interviews to convey to the outside the racial stress 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 brilliant insights into the intersection of race and tradition in the USA.

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Additional resources for American Allegory: Lindy Hop and the Racial Imagination

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Wright Mills, in terms of connecting individual experiences and societal relationships through the categories of history, biography, and social structure by which we “translate private troubles into public issues” (Mills 1959). The racial imagination, as deployed here, illuminates how cultural practices such as music and dance are understood only a er being refracted through the racial categories that come to define them. ¹⁸ For Ellison African Americans are the product of white construction defined by social scientists’ charts, graphs, and other paraphernalia that document their social pathologies, biological, psychological, intellectual, and moral inferiority, as well as their “innate” traits that imply that African American culture is not American.

This reflection takes stock of my doubly transformative odyssey as both carnal sociologist and Lindy Hopper / stepper. In doing so, this reflection considers ways to establish new inroads into the interconnections between race and culture at both theoretical and empirical, as well as intellectual and practical levels in relation to the allegory of dance as racial-cultural dynamic working itself out within the larger context of American society. The conclusion reflects on the limitations of cultural appropriation as a viable way to come to a sociological explanation for cross cultural engagement.

At this level the melting pot did indeed melt, creating such deceptive metamorphoses and blending of identities, values and lifestyles that most American whites are culturally part Negro American without even realizing it. (1995a, 108) For Ellison, the melting pot metaphor for American life was successful on the cultural level. To try to separate out who has made what contributions to American society is an impossible task. ²³ If whites are also black, then conversely blacks must also be white.

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