Just as Black Females and Males (of all genders) are the go-to Masters if you want to learn in the Western Neo-Classical (aka "Jazz") Tradition, White Males are the generational-keepers of the flame of the English-language Literary Tradition. Too many Writers-of-Color being too proud to acknowledge that obvious fact is part of the reason that Black Musical Genius (and its Accomplishments) dwarf, by *orders of magnitude*, Black Literary Accomplishment.I am not an expert on literature. I enjoy listening to and learning from folks who are. Moreover, Steve's comments about black arts and letters are a nice wink back to an earlier post about how some white conservatives do not think that black people have anything to contribute to American intellectual life or history.
It takes generations of Literacy to produce a steady supply of literary geniuses in any subculture, and, as you know, reading-and-writing would have gotten most of us *killed*, in the USA, not even 200 years ago! No fault of our own but we have some catching up to do (the fact that America has entered an Illiterate Age is not helping).
Anyone with a deep feeling for the English language will have to see that, for example, Ted Hughes is operating on a more *technically knowing* level than Langston Hughes; Langston is fine but he is not grappling with the Olde Ones in the back of the Word Cave; Langston (as we all are) was a noob. We shouldn't take this any more personally than a White reader should when I state, with no fear of reasonable contradiction, that Duke Ellington is Bach to Stan Kenton's... uh... Stan Kenton.
Brother Steve is most certainly not making such a specious claim. But, I am very curios and compelled by his taboo suggestion that material, political, social, and other circumstances impact the types of "culture"--written and otherwise--that an ethnically or racially marked group which is socially and politically disadvanted produces. The New Negroes, DuBois, and others grappled with these questions explicitly, and in the public realm. It would seem that such questions have now fallen out of style.
What do you all think about these questions? Me? I am going to sit back and learn a thing or two.