I wildly speculate: The first two words of English utilized by Africans in America? “Have mercy.” Mr. Barker is deathly aimed in his defense in the following excerpt. He is swift in his overview of just how America got the Blues.
Nevertheless... I hope that this edition of Afro-American Music:101 will turn out to be about forgiveness. In the following excerpt, Mr. Barker is in the middle of a discussion on the New Orleans tradition of 'masking Indian' when he begins to associate European land conquests of centuries past into a murmured though apparent expression of disgust with regard to, “this man and his greed.”
(I thought to leave that last interjection... at the end of his thought.) Daniel Moses Barker was a man of peace. As we have heard, he was very concerned with the mounting degree of bloodshed in America's domestic conflicts
. But he was not about appeasement and assimilation per se. Old Danny recognized that as future generations face history, and weigh it against the length of time that America has been on this road, while there remains social, economic, and political disparities – there will continue to be a distinct line of conflict.
In his co-authored study of the New Orleans Jazzman, Bourbon Street Black, Danny Barker sheds light on this line as it was drawn in the late 1960's into the 1970's. From the chapter, Of Race and Men:
This is a squeeze play and there tryin' to be identified – this black thing – put some importance on themselves, because they've always been looked at as if, “Oh they're nothin'; don't pay 'em no mind,” so they have to thrust forward to get some recognition, and they're smart now, and they're gonna to keep pushin' whitey, cause they've learned that if you don't, whitey will say, “O.K., we'll give you that; come into my office tomorrow! They're thrusting-thrusting-thrusting, 'cause America's the “land of plenty” – whitey's got everything, so gimme some today, and don't tell me about tomorrow! So you gotta do all kind's of devious means to push whitey. You know, shake his rockin' chair, or turn his car around – stick sumpin' in his tire so he can't move – just keep him annoyed so he will see that you are
Forgiveness...? O forgiveness!
Peace & Pops,
Maison Musique, New Orleans
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