James Baldwin once said, “To be a Negro and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage all the time.” These words have not rang more true in any other genre than blues.
Blues music arose in a time where hard times plagued the black community. The genre emerged in the United States after the Civil War and is the manifestation of the strife blacks suffered post-emancipation. Although slavery was over, racism and white supremacy still persisted, and African Americans continued to endure traumatizing dehumanization. Segregation was prominent, Jim Crow Laws and Black Codes were instituted to keep blacks from having certain rights, and most black Americans lived in poverty, due to the denial of proper education and unfair sharecropping wages.
Blues was the opposition against the silencing of the black community in the midst of oppression. Blues singers expressed resilience through simplicity and raw emotion. Some of the most renowned blues singers include Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Muddy Waters, and Howlin’ Wolf.
Blues was reconstructive for blacks in a therapeutic sense. It gave an outlet for expression of the tribulations plaguing the black community, and a sense of solidarity. Blues music is the embraces the essence of black consciousness and has kept black people from being silenced. It is a monumental component of African American culture and remains relevant to this day.