Wynton Marsalis on What's 'More Damaging Than a Statue'

"I started saying in 1985 I don't think we should have ... music talking about n—rs and b—es and hoes."

Jordan Candler · May 23, 2018

Kanye West isn’t the only black celebrity to blow leftist minds as of late. Prodigious jazz musician Wynton Marsalis is yet another iconic minority to publicly break with the Democrat Party on at least one aspect of what harms us culturally. For the record, Marsalis isn’t entirely unconventional when it comes to enforcing the Left’s narrative on supposed culture ills: He helped purge Confederate statues from his hometown of New Orleans. Nevertheless, he recently reiterated what he rightly believes contributes to the plight of minorities.

As he explained to The Washington Post: “I started saying in 1985 I don’t think we should have … music talking about n—rs and b—es and hoes. It had no impact. I’ve said it. I’ve repeated it. I still repeat it. To me that’s more damaging than a statue of Robert E. Lee.” He added, “There’s more n—rs in [raunchy music] than there is in Robert E. Lee’s statue.”

Marsalis is absolutely right, though we’d contend that Robert E. Lee was in fact a man of honor. The old adage about reaping what we sow is applicable in every aspect of life, and most Americans spend hours a day listening to music. Our youth in particular listen to profanity- and garbage-laden lyrics that are especially pervasive in rap and hip-hop. Regarding the latter, Marsalis once said: “Listen, I don’t have to attack hip-hop. Hip-hop attacks itself.” And that’s where Kanye West could still learn a thing or two. For example, two songs in which he is featured are titled “N—rs in Paris” and “That’s My B—h.” Garbage in, garbage out.

Music professor Ethan Hein believes just the opposite. In a recent article, he opines, “Music educators teach what they learned, and what they learned is likely to be the musical expression of old-world whiteness.” He endorses the view that “musical standards of classically trained university faculty are unsurprisingly oriented toward the classical tradition, [and] that they are ‘listening for affirmations of Whiteness.’” After all, “While overt racism is no longer socially acceptable, the institutional structures and vocabulary terms created during a racist era survive intact into the present.”

Condemning raunchy lyrics is hardly what we would call “affirmations of Whiteness.” It’s simply the decent thing to do. Arguing that it’s “so important that music education embrace hip-hop,” as Professor Hein does, because America must “re-orient the mission, values and goals of music education away from the preservation of whiteness” lends credence to Marsalis’s point that repulsive lyrics are “more damaging than a statue of Robert E. Lee.” If you doubt that, ask yourself this: Is a criminal or pervert more likely to embrace hip-hop or classical music?

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