How the Minstrel Show Influenced Modern Hip-Hop and Comedy

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Minstrel Show, an entertainment phenomenon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is a show many Americans of any ethnicity would probably prefer to forget, with its blackface makeup and its promotion of demeaning stereotypes. But maybe it’s time to rethink that.

A new book called 'Darkest America: Black Minstrelsy from Slavery to Hip-Hop' argues that minstrels are one of America's most enduring traditions.

According to its authors Yuval Taylor and Jake Austen, the influence of minstrels reverberates through popular culture today. The book traces the tradition to the present day, from rapper Lil Wayne’s music to comedy sketches from Dave Chappelle.

Yuval Taylor is senior editor at the Chicago Review Press and Jake Austen is editor of Roctober Magazine.

Comments [3]

Larry Fisher from Bed Stuy, N.Y.

Black Face equals Politically Incorrect Clown Face which will never come back into vogue...

I always appreciate "The Takeaway" for getting me to think about complicated topics... This one was probably the toughest for me to comment on because I am Jewish and Minstrel shows work both sides of a coin of being both potentially racist as well as initiating a celebration of Black musical and comic culture to a white audience.


I did imagine Obama appearing and making a speech to the American People in Black face. In his speech he says," I know that it is important to some American people that I fail as President because I am a black man, or more importantly because I am not an entirely white man and you are afraid that one day your white daughters will have black children and that all of America will become colored... I think if I were an entirely Black Man, you would have accepted me more as your President but your deep racism, prevents you from seeing how much I have done to save this country from sliding into a deeper Recession or Depression. I come to you in Black face tonight to mock you and remind you of your small mindedness..."

I don't really recommend Obama to do this, and certainly I'm not sure of its validity, but your segment and I blame "The Takeaway" brought me to this point today.

Aug. 28 2012 08:07 PM
oscar from ny

The devil uses the mintrel to show his most ugly exorcist 3

Aug. 28 2012 03:51 PM
Zig from Detroit

This is so interesting. I was recently perusing through the movie section on Youtube and came across a movie featuring Amos and Andy. Wow! I've seen examples of blackface and been upset at recent displays of such which people used to entertain themselves at the expense of another culture... But Amos and Andy did not upset me at all. In all honesty it opened my eyes. As I watched this show I was suddenly seeing 'The Martin Lawrence Show, Meet the Browns, House of Payne,' and of course Madea. I've never liked Tyler Perry movies (his plays seemed a lot more genuine) and do not support them. The films never sat right with me after seeing one at a friend's house and Amos and Andy gave reason to why I feel that way.

Aug. 28 2012 03:49 PM

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