Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 165

Blues People: Negro Music in White America is a nonfiction book by critically acclaimed poet and music critic, Amiri Baraka (named LeRoi Jones at the time of its publication). The thesis, or main theme, of Blues People is that African American music—such as the Blues and Jazz—can be used to measure the African diaspora's assimilation in North America.

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This means that one can examine the various musical and cultural elements found within a genre—i.e., the blues—and trace the history of assimilation in the United States. This is because African American music contains elements of African culture as well as musical traditions that are found in Euro-American genres, such as using the six-stringed guitar.

Therefore, African American-innovated genres like the blues are part of the literal African American identity, as in the combination, or hybridization, of African and American cultures. In this sense, African American music shows that African Americans possess a unique "third" cultures that are both African and American.

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