After watching Ken Burns’ Jazz and hearing the accounts of acts of extreme violence against Black Americans in the time leading up to the Harlem Renaissance, for me it became a little more difficult to defend the bias of early modernist writers, like Ernest Hemingway, against their Black counterparts in society. The fact that lynching was a common practice in America in the 20th century, even after World War I, is a stain on the American race relations record that will never be removed. Granted, while Hemingway and his contemporaries did not necessarily advocate this behavior, it is evident that bias in literature helped to feed racism in the social sphere.
Racism aside, it is also obvious that white Americans were still content to be entertained by Black musicians, a point made clear by the popularity of the Jazz movement in America. The question that comes to mind is why was it acceptable for first class musicians and performers to be considered second class citizens in American society? Also, to what extent to you think early Modernist literature influenced this behavior?