op-ed: attention racist rednecks: country music is black

November 7, 2016

First and foremost, like all forms of American pop music, country music was started for and by Black people. Although country music is now viewed fundamentally as white people shit, without Black folks, Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood and whoever the hell else ya’ll listen to would be insignificant. But this wouldn’t be the first time you co-opted our creations, now would it?

The book Blues People by LeRoi Jones, also known as Amiri Baraka, artfully explains the historical connection between Black culture and American music such as: Blues, country, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and the list goes on. Country music was created by African-Americans living in the rural South, employing elements of the blues (also created by Black people) and the banjo — originally an African instrument.

By Heather Jones/Wear Your Voice, AFROPUNK contributor

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Justin Timberlake: Biggest appropriator of all time.

Image of G-Eazy, also known as “White Drake.”

Additionally, how did history become so whitewashed that we forgot that Ray Charles was one of the original country artists? Labeled as one the 100 most influential country singers in Life magazine in 1994, he also had one of the first country albums to sell over a million records.

But let’s be honest, giving credit to Black folks for country music would have white people in Red states doing the do si do on their way to vote for Trump feel really uncomfortable, and rightfully so. Being a white supremacist while rocking out to music invented by the same people you insist on terrorizing and disenfranchising is awkward, to say the least.

This is another reason why Beyonce’s Lemonade was so revolutionary. Her song “Daddy Lessons,” paid homage to country music’s African-American roots by tying it to her fundamental upbringing as a southern Black woman. Let’s hope more Black artists follow suit and embrace country’s African roots, And to the racist bigots who got all in their feelings when they watched Queen Bey on stage at the CMAs:

*This post is in partnership with Wear Your Voice