I chose to discuss the minstrel shows because I was intrigued by them in the discussion assignment and wanted to further my thoughts on it. Again, to me the Minstrel Shows were made up of white Americans dressed up in blackface putting on shows and skits making fun and mocking the Africans Americans. The whites would act out behaviors and cultures that they believed were how the Africans Americans behaved.
This style of music portrayed the African Americans as “ghetto”, gang ridden, and not a valuable member of society. Unfortunately, this lead to today’s world and how we still view African Americans. I believe the Minstrel Shows gave African Americans an unfair chance of showing who they really are and forced them into a life we made for them. The Minstrel Shows started in the 1830s but really became popular in the 1840s being one of the main events of that time. The white men would paint their faces black with grease or a burnt cork and dress in attire like those they are pretending to be. The original Minstrel Show took place in New York with an entertainer by the name of Thomas Dartmouth. He portrayed a black slave named Jim Crow. He dressed in torn clothes to pretend to be a poor slave.
Thomas Dartmouth made Jump Jim Crow a popular song in the 1830s. By performing this song all over the United Stated and Europe, Thomas Dartmouth gained his fame and fortune. Zip Coon was another character among the popular actors that made minstrel shows popular. It was said that Zip Coon was one of the most insulting characters in the Minstrel Shows. The name Coon is taken from a raccoon saying the character was frightened, dirty, lazy, and not good for anything.
Zip Coon was a slave and he was not happy, however, he was too lazy to do anything about it. He was an entertaining character in the Minstrel Shows because the whites found his ignorant personality hilarious. When the African Americans were freed by the Civil War, Zip Coon used this opportunity to change himself and be a different person. He then dressed up nicely and portrayed himself to be this well-educated and elegant member of society which he was mocked for because he looked ridiculous.
In the show the whites would make fun of him for speaking incorrectly and understanding things wrong.In today’s music and entertainment, we don’t have the Minstrel Shows, but in my opinion we may have something similar. Today we have many white Americans creating rap and hip hop music which is primarily about the gang life and living the life the African Americans live. So, by the white American making this music, are they still making fun of the African Americans? For example, take Eminem, he’s a white American who writes music like the music of African Americans.
Anyone who knows Eminem knows that his music is true to him and his life so we know he’s not mocking the African Americans because the music tells a true story.