Langston Hughes, "The Negro Artist
and the Racial Mountain," The Nation.
Jazz to me is one of the inherent expressions of Negro life in America: the eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro soul - the tom-tom of revolt against weariness in a white world, a world of subway trains, and work, work, work; the tom-tom of joy and laughter, and pain swallowed in a smile. Yet the Philadelphia club woman . . . turns her nose up at jazz and all its manifestations - likewise almost everything else distinctly racial. . . . She wants the artist to flatter her, to make the white world believe that all Negroes are as smug and as near white in soul as she wants to be. But, to my mind, it is the duty of the younger Negro artist . . . to change through the force of his art that old whispering "I want to be white," hidden in the aspirations of his people, to "Why should I want to be white? I am Negro - and beautiful."