John Lomax racist comments

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John Lomax racist comments

Postby farmaz » Wed May 12, 2010 12:06 pm

i got a copy of Blind Willie Mctell The Classic Years 4 CD set, on the 4th CD there is a piece of spoken monologue with mctell & lomax, when lomax is asking him about his music he calls black people Niggers several times, i allways took him to be anything but a racist guy as it was black people who made his recording sessions great.

anyone know if he ever expressed his views in inteviews etc.....

i read his sons book "The land where the blues began" & there was no type of racist language in there or any sign of coloured cussing etc. That piece proper shocked me tbh
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Re: John Lomax racist comments

Postby allanlummox » Wed May 12, 2010 1:22 pm

The Lomaxes did the best that they could - but they were products of their times.

Alan Lomax wrote "Land where the Blues Began" - the sessions in question with Willie McTell were with John Lomax, the father, who was the product of an even earlier time - his frequent usage of the "N" bomb is quite embarassing by modern standards. This was part of why his relationship with Leadbelly deteriorated over the years as well.

There's a nice article that covers the ground here;


http://swindlemagazine.com/issue06/alan-lomax/
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Re: John Lomax racist comments

Postby Les R Forgue » Wed May 12, 2010 1:27 pm

I would not automatically ascribe racism to someone solely on the basis of their having used that offensive term, epecially in that time and place. But on the other hand, the elder Lomax was an American, born and raised in that time and place, so the odds of him NOT having been a racist are mighty slim, I would say, even if that ugly term had never passed his lips.
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Re: John Lomax racist comments

Postby ricochet » Wed May 12, 2010 2:45 pm

+1 about the time and place. Standards of language usage about this sort of thing have changed HUGELY in my short lifetime. I think if we censor everything from the past that doesn't fit our current ideas of propriety, we're culturally poorer for it.
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Re: John Lomax racist comments

Postby goldbrick » Thu May 13, 2010 1:43 am

Thats just how it was back then-right or wrong

Heck listen to what rappers call each other now--they'd fit right in
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Re: John Lomax racist comments

Postby zhyla » Thu May 13, 2010 6:03 pm

I'm not sure how the "N" word was received back then. Language shifts over time, most likely nothing to get worked up over.

When I was a kid you couldn't say "damn" or "ass", but now it's all over network TV. We've moved on to new offensive words.
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Re: John Lomax racist comments

Postby Les R Forgue » Thu May 13, 2010 10:08 pm

zhyla wrote:I'm not sure how the "N" word was received back then. Language shifts over time, most likely nothing to get worked up over.

When I was a kid you couldn't say "damn" or "ass", but now it's all over network TV. We've moved on to new offensive words.


You make a good point Zhyla; but there are still some yet living old emough to be sure how it was received back then; well I am not that old I guess, nearly so, but I was very close to some, one in particular comes to mind, a lady from the hills of east central Mississippi, of 1/4 Choctaw, 3/4 African descent, a grandaughter of slaves and of slave-holders; she was born in the very late 19th century; she never spoke any words directly denoting race except in a conspiratorial whisper, and for the N word, well she simply would not say it; I'm sure she was not characteristic of her entire generation, Black or White, in that regard, but it does give a clue. One thing was kind of humorous to me, how she refer to locomotive train engines as "inniuns", (her way of pronouncing Indians), because as a small child she had been severely chastised by her 1/2 Indian father for referring to Indians as "Injuns"; she was so marked by the chastisement that she generalized the correction to include any kind of "injuns", whether meaning Indians or engines, pronouncing both words as "Inniuns". If she got whooped for saying Injun, who knows what would have been her fate if she got caught saying that N word?
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Re: John Lomax racist comments

Postby ricochet » Fri May 14, 2010 5:19 am

Growing up on the south Alabama-Mississippi border in the late '50s-early '60s I would never have said the "N" word. When I heard it and asked, I was told that was something that only low-class people said. We didn't talk like that.
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Re: John Lomax racist comments

Postby farmaz » Fri May 14, 2010 8:53 am

I think if we censor everything from the past that doesn't fit our current ideas of propriety, we're culturally poorer for it.


thats true
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