May 31, 2006

Too Many White Musicians

Jabari Asim's column in the Washington Post criticizes National Review's list of the top 50 conservative rock songs of all time:

WASHINGTON -- If "American Idol" didn't completely satisfy your appetite for gimmickry, you might consider turning to National Review. A recent issue offers its handy list of the top 50 conservative rock songs of all time.

The list is intended to be provocative because rock is often considered a focal point of progressive sentiments. What I found far more striking, however, was the relative whiteness of the artists. Exactly when did rock 'n' roll, once the province of Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, become so white? The only black band listed is Living Colour, whose "Cult of Personality" is less a praise song to conservatism than a blast at egotistical leadership of any political stripe.

The National Review list suggests that blacks have become little more than a footnote to a cultural phenomenon they are largely responsible for creating -- or, more plausibly, that black conservatives rarely express themselves via rock songwriting.

This passage points out the relative hypocrisy in discussions of race. Mr. Asim, who is black, essentially laments that the list contains a disproportionate number of "white" musicians. Can you imagine the uproar if, for instance, Mr. Asim were white and had instead lamented the inclusion of so many "black" musicians?
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