By Abiodun Scott
Ragtime. Known to be “ragged” music, this complex genre requires precision and skill. The exciting scores required one hand (typically the left) to play a steady beat while the other played with syncopation. Though it sounds as though it could’ve been made up on the fly, a ragtime musician usually doesn’t deviate from the sheet music.
Even with prolific composers such as Scott Joplin spearheading the genre, ragtime unavoidably fell victim to racism. Ragtime was born in The United States at a time when Blacks were reclaiming and revamping the racism they faced, going as far as to parodying minstrel shows and imitating the white people who imitated Black music. With the genre being created by Black Americans, it was thought to be the downfall of American culture. It was said to have “no melody” and subjected the listener to a poor listening experience. Some doctors even touted the possibility that ragtime music caused an irregular heartbeat solely based on the fact that the genre is rhythm driven. Throughout the years, the sanctity of ragtime has been restored, though unwarranted racism around Black music genres will always prevail.
In America, racism has historically presented opportunities for outsiders to have a deprecating field day with Black culture. They steal aspects of it and demonize Black people in the eyes of the public with false depictions. Whatever the case may seem to be, those outsiders will never have the upper hand, for the culturally appropriated always find a way to reclaim it and take all power from the oppressor.