Sample Philosophy Essays on Race, Ethnicity and Expressive Authenticity

The article’s principal point is that there is an existing tension between whites and blacks on whether whites can sing blues as blacks. This worsens the ongoing debates of whether racist practices targeting blacks are becoming more widespread. In recent times, there has been heightened tension in regard to the socioeconomic differences existing between whites and blacks. In the article, Rudinow draws his arguments from the writing by Amiri Baraka and Paul Olivier who are of the opinion that white people cannot make the best bluesmen. The passage by Paul Olivier gives preference to black musicians and fails to recognize the genuineness of white musicians.  Rudinow draws his title from Gleason’s argument that blues is synonymous with the black man and that the white man at best is trying to diminish or steal it at worst. Thus, whites lack the moral authority to use it (127).

Rudinow presents a racist argument where he tries to unveil what many people do not want to say. He argues that white people are not capable of delivering authentic blues performance. He says that the question raised by the negative position is all about authenticity. The negative position is that despite resembling blues, any music made by whites cannot be considered authentic because “it is made by people of the wrong race” (129).  The authenticity of music released or played by white people is explored in the article. According to the author, the authenticity question of musical aesthetics is largely focused on the relationship between work and performance. However, for blues, the author argues that authenticity should be focused on compositions.  Rubinow’s argument under this subject, while referring to the negative position, is that white musicians cannot play blues in an authentic way. The reason behind this argument is that white musicians lack the requisite relation or closeness to the original source of blues. This argument is shared by Amiri Baraka.

In support of the article’s main point, Rudinow argues that the pioneers of blues were members of the African-American community (130). Rudinow says that in terms of style and genre blues music largely belongs to the African-American community. He further argues that when blues is performed by whites, they misappropriate the intellectual property and cultural heritage of African-Americans and the African-American community at large. In Baraka’s statements, this is music robbery (130). According to Rudinow, there are subjects of dispute in terms of ownership of blues and in terms of genre, style, and expressive elements such as timing, feel rhythm, diction, timbre, and vocal inflection (131).

In the author’s experiential access argument, he says that authentically understanding blues is not easy. This is unless one person becomes or lives like a black in the United States. He argues that to know what it is to live like a black person; one must be a black person.  In the author’s opinion, the essence of blues is a stance articulated and embodied in poetry and sound. In this regard, what can differentiate between inauthentic and authentic blues is the stance from its superficial imitations (Rudinow 135).

Rudinow argues that people should be committed to avoiding ethnocentrism just like racism. In this context, it is imperative to say that the performance of blues authenticity turns on the degree of idiomatic mastery. It can also be said that when one performs blues, it enhances the performer’s integrity of the use of idiom.