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Old 10-04-2014, 06:24 PM   #23 (permalink)
Lord Larehip
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Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 895

Blackface Minstrel Show Sand Dance - YouTube

Ned Haverly was the grandson of J.H. Haverly who ran Haverly's United Mastodon Minstrels. He learned his craft from the best of the best.

What's interesting are the words to the song he sings:

I want you to know that I’m ragged but right
Hopin’ like I'm livin’ like you people that’s white
Hoedown steak everyday for my board
That’s more than all you rounders in ‘is town afford

I’m a mighty good man to have hang around
I’m tailor-made I’m not a hand-me-down
I’m a Eagle, I’m a Mason, I’m a Elk, I’m a Knight
I’m ragged but right
You hear me talkin’
I’m ragged but right

On the surface, Haverly is a black man telling white people that despite his hand-me-down clothes and 2nd hand belongings, he's as good as they are. He's "right" (as in "righteous") because he is there to do the things that need doing that white people don't want to do for themselves and so hire him to do them, i.e. their dirty work. He is saying, "You think you don't need me until you suddenly realize how much you need me. I cook for you, clean for you, I repair your appliances and fix your yards. I know all your family's dirty, little secrets and I keep them secret. Where would you be without me? And that's not all--I also belong to all the same high-falutin' secret societies that you do. So maybe you're rich but I'm righteous, you hear me? You're rich but I'm righteous!"

But underneath that black veneer is a working white man delivering that same message to the nobility of American society. "Maybe you rich folk have it all, but who manufactures all those goods you own? And who fixes them when you break them? Why, that would be me! I know all about you because I work in your house and I maintain your car and trim your trees. And what do you know about me? Nothing. You wouldn't be caught dead visiting my house or riding in my car and you wouldn't know the first thing about how to fix it. You're so dependent on me, it's ridiculous. AND I belong to all the same secret societies you do. So maybe you're rich but I'm righteous, you hear me? You're rich but I'm righteous!"

It's the same message that minstrelsy has delivered since the days of the United Mastodons--today, rich folks, we put you on notice: changes are coming. There's going to be some changes made around here. Jazz, that latter-day minstrelsy, expressed the same, identical sentiment (in fact, you can even sing it to the same tune as Ned Haverly's song):

For there's a change in the weather, there's a change in the sea,
So from now on there'll be a change in me.
My walk will be different, my talk and my name,
Nothing about me is going to be the same.
I'm going to change my way of living if that ain't enough,
Then I'll change the way I strut my stuff
Cause nobody wants you when you're old and gray.
There'll be some changes made today, there'll be some changes made.
For there's a change in the fashions, ask the feminine folks,
Even Jack Benny has been changing jokes,
I must make some changes from old to the new,
I must do things just the same as others do.
I'm going to change my long tall Mama for a little short fat,
Going to change the number where I live at.
I must have some loving or I'll fade away.
There'll be some changes made today, there'll be some changes made

Last edited by Lord Larehip; 10-04-2014 at 06:30 PM.
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