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Wed Feb 24, 2021, 08:49 AM

'Lynching was treated as a celebratory event': Adrian Younge on the history of US racism

Ammar Kalia
Wed 24 Feb 2021 07.00 EST

“I’m sacrificing myself to deliver a message,” says the composer, multi-instrumentalist and now podcast-maker Adrian Younge. “We aren’t aware enough of black history, nor of the integral role black people have played in building America. There is an educational sterilisation going on and it’s my duty to make people understand that history of racism – something America has pioneered.”

With more than 400 years to cover since US slavery began, Younge’s project to educate the public is a vast and complex one. Yet, speaking on a video call surrounded by analogue recording equipment in his LA studio, it is a story Younge believes he has spent his life and career building up to. “This is my What’s Going On project, my record talking about why we are in the place that we are in,” he says. “It’s as if James Baldwin hooked up with Marvin Gaye to make a record produced by David Axelrod. It’s psychedelic soul but it is very professorial at the same time. There’s so many layers to it.”

Indeed, there are. The resulting project comprises a 26-track album, written, played and recorded entirely by Younge, entitled The American Negro, a four-part podcast – Invisible Blackness – hosted by Younge – and a short film, again written and directed by Younge himself.

Such auteurship could seem somewhat egotistical but Younge – a 42-year-old musician who has made his name in collaboration with the likes of Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Kendrick Lamar – sees it as necessary. “Pre-Covid, I was travelling the world performing and I was shocked at how little people understood about racism and its history,” he says. “Racism is a learned behaviour and one America developed through building its nation on the backs of slave labour and those economic gains. America is a slavocracy: it is a nation founded on bigotry, and those principles continue today. People might think racism no longer exists because there is no longer a slave system, but they don’t realise the laws that enabled the slave system still put us in a position where we have to jump over insurmountable handicaps to just become equal.”


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Reply 'Lynching was treated as a celebratory event': Adrian Younge on the history of US racism (Original post)
Judi Lynn Feb 24 OP
moose65 Feb 24 #1
Solly Mack Feb 24 #2

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Feb 24, 2021, 09:27 AM

1. Have y'all read "Lies My Teacher Told Me"?

That book had a profound effect on me, especially the section that talked about lynchings.

It is almost unimaginable how racist the US was in the early years of the 20th century. That was when most of those Confederate monuments were erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and lynchings happened in many Northern states, as well. Lynch mobs often posed for pictures - they had no fear of being identified because they knew a white jury would never convict them.

We as a nation have NEVER had a discussion about that era. Jim Crow laws were in full force in the South, and the North really wasn't any better in terms of race relations. We tend to think of the 1950s and 1960s as terrible years in terms of race relations, but that was when African-Americans had started to fight back. The really terrible years were before that, from about 1890 to 1940.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Feb 24, 2021, 10:09 AM

2. K&R

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