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The Unspoken Lullaby: Women, Music, And Oppression

2220 words - 9 pages

Victor Hugo once said, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” Throughout history, the highly evocative language of music has played a major role in influencing societies and individuals. Some may say that music is the most complex form of expression. It communicates in a language that penetrates beyond the mind; it goes directly to the emotions and creates an environment or a feeling that defines that very moment. That music has the power to express and convey our thoughts and our emotions is without question, however, the idea that music has the power to reflect an entire society and can recreate an identity is not as well accepted. For every culture and their people, music has played a vital role in the development of power movements and the fight for a sense of identity. The criticism that music has faced is partly a result of the social condemnation of the movements that have been associated with it. Ultimately, however, music allows oppressed groups an escape from the oppressor and is used as an act of resistance in order to find a true sense of identity and to achieve social acceptance by refusing to conform to American society. In Alice Echoll’s, Hot Stuff and Alice Walker’s, The Color Purple, music is shown as a tool used by minority groups particularly African Americans women to find power within one’s self despite the pressures of society.
In America there has always been a strong connection among the African American community, which has been strengthened by the trials and suffering that they, as a whole, have faced. These problems, stemming as far back as slavery, have produced a sense of pride and togetherness in the people who have a history of overcoming obstacles. (Kitwana) The collective identities evolved through the influence of music have been exhibited through many different social movements such as the Black Power Movement and the Hip-Hop Movement. By looking at these movements and the music that was associated with them, we can see that the music created a strong individuality and freedom among those involved, therefore enabling them to be able to express their goals more effectively. (Kitwana) Music also gave African Americans an escape from the mundane lifestyle they were leading, a lifestyle in which they were looked down upon for being black. Their role has always been one of invisibility in the eyes of the governing body and society as a whole. Through music, they created a reality in which it was admirable to be black. Suddenly there were greater opportunities available that made way for African Americans to be admired instead of being ostracized, and a chance to have the power to create the change they wanted to see.
In Alice Echoll’s, Hot Stuff, disco is shown as a key instrument used by oppressed groups to find their freedom in a society that didn’t accept them. African Americans, gays and women were repressed and through disco and the movements associated...

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