Tag Archives: hipsters

“White Negros” and hipsters

From Ulrich Adelt’s Blues Music in the Sixties: A Story in Black and White:

The complex identification of white people with black sounds has a longstanding tradition, as many scholars have traced. A key text to understanding white appropriations of blackness is Norman Mailer’s glowing description of the “White Negro”: a term that Paul Verlaine had introduced to characterize fellow poet Arthur Rimbaud. In his 1958 essay, Mailer equated the appropriation of black culture (in particular jazz spontaneity) with being a hipster, a view also apparent in many writings of the 1950s Beat Generation, like those of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. A few years earlier, Franz Fanon had vividly described what he saw as the alienation of black men in the face of white oppression. In an astonishing role reversal, Mailer envisioned black men as something real to aspire to in the face of white alienation. The White Negro drew mixed reactions after its publication. While James Baldwin criticized what he saw as Mailers sexual insecurity and romanticism, Eldridge Cleaver aligned Mailer’s hedonistic fantasies of primitivized masculinity with his own and connected the White Negro to student protests at the University of California at Berkeley.

Here is the wiki on The White Negro.

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