On Sun, 30 Jul 2017 15:05:33 +0100, Whiskers
Post by Whiskers Post by Harrison Hill Post by Harrison Hill Post by Peter T. Daniels
If people quibble over "You're free, white and twenty-one", I
wonder what they would say about "Young, gifted and black"?
The latter is a phrase devised by an African American poet.
""To Be Young, Gifted and Black" is a song by Nina Simone with
lyrics by Weldon Irvine. It was written in memory of Simone's late
friend Lorraine Hansberry." (Wikip)
Nina Simone was one of the greatest activist-artists of the Civil
Rights Era, Lorraine Hansberry was the first African American
(woman?) playwright to have a play (*A Raisin in the Sun*) produced
on Broadway. "A raisin in the sun" is an image from the leading
poet of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes.
There's a celebrated recording of the song by Aretha Franklin, and
one of her albums is named for it.
So the answer to your wondering is, they embrace it.
Of course they do. So why does "You're free, white and twenty-one"
cause (imaginary) "offence"? Who is being offended? Why aren't we
allowed to say what other people are allowed to say?
Apropos of nothing, it was the "Bob and Marcia" version that was the
UK hit, around about the "coffee coloured people by the score" period
of the 1970s. This problem drives educated ethnic-minority people
bonkers: people leaping at the chance to be "offended" on their behalf
- where no offence is intended and where no offence is taken.
"To Be Young, Gifted and Black is where it's at": pride and respect.
"To Be Young, Gifted and White is where it's at": insult and bigotry?
Times change. When Nina Simone wrote her song, racist speech was
commonplace and widely accepted - her song was indeed a response and
retaliation to it. Racism is less acceptable now - even if it is still
true that 'being white' (or 'not being black') confers some advantages.
So while it is true that your friend's being white won't harm her
prospects of advancement, it would probably be politic and tactful to
express this more circumspectly than as a slogan or motto. It certainly
isn't a birthright any more.
Your choice of the word 'free' is interesting. What prompted you to
mention it? Is 'not free' something that affects people in your culture
or circle of acquaintances? If so, in what ways?
It's a set piece. "Free, white, and 21" is the phrase.
Post by Whiskers
Presumably, 21 is the age of majority where you are.
It's not about "advancement", by the way. It's a phrase that is
intended to mean "You can make your own decisions". All of the
conditions (not free, not white, not 21) implied restrictions on a
person from doing what they want.
When it was used, it was used when someone asked if they could do
something and the reply was to indicate that they could do it if they
wanted to. For example, the question "Do you think I should grow a
beard?" might elicit that as a response.
Tony Cooper - Orlando, Florida