Analysis

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 232

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This text presents the difficulties experienced by many young black artists during the years of the Harlem Renaissance. In the text, white audiences typically only want to see black artists representing some aspect of the black experience, or producing something that would be immediately identifiable as created by a black person, or hearkening back to some stereotypically black art form (like Negro spirituals). This poses a major problem for black artists who want to produce something different or who don't necessarily want to tie everything they create to their race. They have to choose, then, between either creating the art they feel inspired to create and potentially having no audience for it (and, so, no way to support themselves) or creating the commercially-viable art expected by white audiences and giving up their own artistic freedom. We see this with the admittedly not-very-talented Eustace, who initially refuses to sing Negro spirituals because he wants to be a classical singer; however, his refusal is seen as his having a lack of racial pride and his loyalty to classical genres seems like a kind of denial of the merit of his race's musical history. However, one white organization will only allow him to audition if he sings spirituals because they are only interested in "black music" from a black artist. It's a difficult situation that, ultimately, helps to bring about the end of the movement.

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