Banishing Stereotypes

I love all kinds of music. I have a playlist on Spotify in which I am creating a massive collection of the songs I like. The genres included in this playlist ranges from TINCUP’s bass -bumping electronic trap to Bon Iver’s calming folk music. While I am extremely proud of this ongoing playlist, for years I have been ridiculed for my diversified taste in music. Oftentimes, friends and even strangers will comment on my musical interests wondering why I listen to “white” music. This has always been a pet peeve of mine. Classifying a genre of music based on race just does not make sense to me. Music is created by people of different racial backgrounds for people of different racial backgrounds;musical preferences should not be assumed based on the color of one’s skin.

Jefferson Pinder addresses this issue in his work, Juke, a video installation that shows African Americans lip synching songs stereotypically classified as “white. The people featured in this artwork, including Pinder himself, lip sync songs performed by white musicians such as Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, David Bowie and Patti Smith. Through his artwork, Pinder hopes to address these racial issues, “in the most unfamiliar way.” Pinder hopes to start a discussion on whether or not music can be black or white and whether a song can be used to “provoke a conversation about race.” Pinder believes that the lyrics in all of these songs can be sentiments felt by African Americans and I believe they can be felt by anyone regardless of race.

Pinder’s work is only one of many aiming to banish stereotypes created by insinuating musical preference is based on race. While it may not be able to rid our society of these stereotypes on its own, Pinder succeeds in his efforts to start a conversation on why these stereotypes are created and what we can do to eliminate them.

Shay TyndallJuke_installation viewJefferson Pinder, Juke (still image detail), 2006. 10-channel digital video installation

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