As the month of June 2021 comes to its closing, another celebration continues to make its imprint on the Black American psyche. It is the month of Black American Music Month 2021. It is a month of celebration; our musical her/history book. Our music carried us over. For Black American people, we have a particular her/history. It is a culture like no other. In fact, there are more than one. Music has been more than a cultural marker, or a source of entertainment for a particular group of people. For this culture, and people, music was a form of cultural preservation. It was a medicinal healing tool, in ensuring that our people managed to navigate through the toxicity of anti-Blackness. It was a method of creating wellness gardens; safesspaces where our people were granted the power to heal and restore.
Creativity was always a silent tactic used by Black American people in the re-birthing of self. It’s an interesting, and more in-depth conversation to use for a later time. Nevertheless, later will come. There is magic in our gardens-our musical gardens-and we have been watered in them, very well.
The authenticity and culture of Black American people has begun in the Black American Church. The food. Attire. Linguistics. And age-old traditions of music. Communal bonding. Yes. It was (and still is) the very center of our Being. Political activism (and organizing). It was through the Black American Church, which permitted our people to have accountability for each other. We cared for each other in a way, like no other. And, of course, it was the space of Gospel music, Negro Spirituals, and our Spiritual connection to Biblical teachings. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bible was on the African Continent, long before any outside power. Such is a huge misconception when it comes to addressing the role of the Bible’s presence on the Continent. Yes. We cannot deny the fact, that its teachings were exploited as sources of domination and conquest. Nevertheless, these actions do not deny its pre-colonial presence. Furthermore, evidence has pointed to the traces of Hebrew practices in West African communities.
From the inspiration and sounds of Gospel music and Negro Spirituals came over 44 musical traditions; and still counting. Blues. Jazz. Hip Hop. R&B. Rock n’ Roll. Soul. Ragtime. Work Songs. Neo–Soul. Spoken Word. House. Trap. The list continues to grow. Depending on the region, there are different variations, within each one. There are even older Gospel forms. The point in naming these different genres, is how it reflects our people’s understanding with movement and time; including the manifestation of. Each of these musical genres continue to portray different eras within the United States Of America. What was going on with the state of Black America, within that given time? What were the very sources of inspiration, which inspired our people to produce such musical wonders for a given time? These stories are endless and ever abundant!
This year, the awareness of June 2021, as Black American Music Month was more vigilant for the public. More celebrations and more media campaigns continued to highlight the significance of this month. Progress is being made. Yet, we still have a longer way to go.
As we discuss and reflect upon the medicinal purposes of Black American Music and culture, let’s reflect upon the memories of what it means to use musical creativity, as a tool for the very presence of Black America’s existence. Having no country of our own forced Black American people to consistently re-create over time. Another discussion for another time. Yet, what cannot ever be forgotten is that it is, Black American. Period. Authentic culture and heritage was birthed and created from the Black American Church. This leads to further discussion, as it pertains to the significance of gatekeeping and guardianship. Just as any other people on the face of the planet, Black American people have a right to lay claim (and ownership) of our music and culture. It is our natural right. It sounds ludicrous to repeat. Yet, there is an aura within the atmosphere, where Black Americans are ridiculed or made to feel ashamed for claiming our culture. For that reason, it must be affirmed, consistently; throughout different generations of time. Our culture and music is popular, throughout the entire world. It’s so popular that persons outside of the community are using sneaky tactics, in laying claim to it. Using articles and paper publications, they are trying to undermine Black American people’s presence, within our culture and music. Some even claim that it is from foreign entities and cultures.
Dearest Black America, those who have preserved our authentic form (and that is the majority), lay claim to your people and presence. You owe this to the foremothers and forefathers, who made the foreign, familiar. You owe it to them, who manifested that Blackened, Universal sparkle, within our peculiar gardens!
Lauren K. Clark, Lauren K. Clark hails from Atlanta, Georgia. Currently based in Cairo, Egypt, she is a lover of travel, studying different languages, the arts, and more!
Coming from Atlanta, Georgia, Lauren K. Clark came to Cairo, Egypt for her graduate studies in Gender & Women’s Studies/Migration and Refugee Studies. A writer, published in 6 countries, project coordinator, working with refugee/migrant children, and just enjoying the magic and power of life. The world of theater is her therapy, and the performing arts lavishes her world! Enthralled with the mysteries of the Universe, and all the beauties, Creation has to offer.