Maintaining Joy and Reclamation Through Music Despite Black Erasure [OPINION]


Black Americans have served as the backbone of music for years on end, yet they don’t get the total recognition or respect they deserve. The unawareness of this topic could be blamed on the fact that people are uneducated on the subject matter. 

Many early Black artists’ creations have been extremely whitewashed or taken. Consequently erasing their presence in the music industry, as a result, Black artists’ have barely gotten their credit when it’s due. 

The fact that the pioneer of the Rock ‘n Roll genre is a Black woman and she has barely gotten her respect is quite disappointing. If it wasn’t for Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the genre of Rock ‘n Roll wouldn’t be where it is today. 

Rosetta Tharpe brought the sounds of gospel music alongside an electric guitar to the table, which completely changed the game. She paved the way for rock but also helped open the doors for other Black rock n roll artists to come. 

As one of the many examples of a Black pioneer for music, it’s very disheartening how their creations have been rewritten as relics of white culture”. In easier terms, their music has either got stolen or covered by white artists unfortunately, their songs are easily confused for being a White artists’ creation. 

A well-known example would be when Elvis covered “Hound Dog” which was originally written for Big Mama Thornton

Evidently, the only genres that the Black community gets credit for are Rap, Hip-Hop, and Rnb, but have stereotypically all been mushed into an “urban” category. This ultimately harms the artists; their music struggles to get played since they are considered pushed into such a broad group. 

These many factors contribute to the immense erasure of Black music and artists then and now. 

Despite the long history of erasure, Black artists still managed to keep their joy and reclamation within their songs. 

Songs that portrayed messages of happiness and joy helped to be a form of protest but also an outlet for Black Americans to feel their sense of freedom and express their blackness within their songs. 

Music is huge within the Black community, but whether at functions or just small get-togethers it is very uncommon to hear joyous songs playing in the background. Even if it isn’t a song that clearly portrays a message of happiness or reclamation. Artists like Musiq Soulchild, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, and Erykah Badu are some of the many prominent artists that are in our community that have helped bring out that feeling of joy in Black Americans.

With countless years of being treated unjustly, it is essential that we have something in our community that we can go to for an outlet or safe haven. Music has helped us in tremendous ways and in a way pushed the Black community forward.

 Knowing that Black artists have both helped the music community tremendously and also brought a spark of joy to the Black community is crucial, especially while we are celebrating Black History Month.