Why was it important for Herman E Calloway to have a white band member in Bud, Not Buddy?What could a white man do in the 1930's that a black man wasn't allowed to do?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Aside from the fact that Dirty Deed is an excellent musician, Herman E. Calloway makes sure to keep at least one white band member because of the prejudices and blatantly unfair laws that exist in the 1930s which discriminate against black people. It is "against the law for a Negro to own any property out where the Log Cabin (in Michigan) is," so Mr. Calloway puts his property in the name of Deed, the only white member in the band. In addition, a lot of white people will not hire a band if they know up front that its members are black. Steady Eddie says,

"...a lot of times we get gigs playing polkas and waltzes and a lot of these white folks wouldn't hire us if they knew we were a Negro band so Deed goes out and sets up everything."

When the white people discover that the majority of the band members are black, they are sometimes chagrined, but, as Deed points out,

"...it's too late for them to say anything then, it's us or no music."

Also, in these situations, Mr. Calloway will diplomatically tell his unhappy clients that

"...if we aren't the best band they'd ever had then they don't have to pay."

In a testimony to the quality of their music, Steady Eddie says that they "haven't been stiffed yet." Once they are forced to look beyond the color of their entertainers' skin, the white people who have dealt with Mr. Calloway and his band are unanimously pleased with their skill as musicians (Chapter 18).

Read the study guide:
Bud, Not Buddy

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