Author Archives: Dean S. Reynolds, Ph.D.

2014 Winter Jazzfest

One of my resolutions for the new year is to make a more concerted effort to blog. To that end, I’m working on a relatively substantial post about the 2014 Winter Jazzfest, which I attended last week. Look for that soon. In the meantime, enjoy some photos.


Patrick Meyer on the jazz funeral

My friend Patrick Meyer wrote a nice article on the New Orleans jazz funeral for the United Academics Magazine a few months back. Go check out “Rock the Casket.” (Full disclosure: I gave him a quote, but the piece is far more interesting than my contribution).


In the wake of a great discussion about race that I had with my New School students yesterday morning, I had the privilege of listening to Barbara Fields and Ta-Nehisi Coates talk about Prof. Fields’ recent book Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life in the evening. The conversation moved quickly through a variety of topics, from blood typing to President Obama’s response to the murder of Trayvon Martin, but my overall impression of the importance of racecraft was that it offers us a critical vocabulary for talking about issues of race and racism in our society. I hope that the book is read widely. I already bought my copy.

Of course, one moment I found particularly interesting was when the conversation turned to music, and Mr. Coates and Prof. Fields used the cases of R&B singer Teena Marie and country singer Charley Pride to interrogate what it means when someone says a singer “sounds black” or “sounds white.” What interested me most about these cases is the extent to which their very genres are symptomatic of racecraft. As Karl Hagstrom Miller has argued in his book Segregating Sound, genre names like “country” and “race music” that emerged in the early 20th century were invented as purportedly racially authentic distinctions that reinforced in American musical life the segregation of whites and blacks elsewhere and, in the process, obscured (and in many ways devastated) a musical milieu in which white musicians played in blues form and black musicians played the music of Tin Pan Alley. Racecraft means that we understand these distinctions not as arising from the perception of racial difference but rather as (re)producing that perception.

About the Photo

The above photo below (which originally appeared in the banner of this website) is of the Blue Mountains in Jamaica, taken from the campus of the the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.

The Blue Mountains, from the campus of UWI in Mona

The Blue Mountains, from the campus of UWI in Mona

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