"Jazz Means Happy and Loose Like" (1917)

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Mon Dec 3 20:05:54 UTC 2007

On Dec 3, 2007, at 11:59 AM, John Baker wrote:

>        I am skeptical of the Wikipedia account, as far as "Rastus" is
> concerned.  A Westlaw search shows that every recorded example of
> "Rastus" in reported legal cases before 1890 refers to Rastus
> Ransom, a
> prominent New York City lawyer, who likely was not black (newspaper
> articles of the period make no reference to his race, which they
> presumably would have if he had been black).  In contrast, names
> such as
> "Sambo" and "Cuffy" are found.  The available evidence suggests to me
> that the association of "Rastus" with blacks (i) did not occur in
> popular culture until the late 19th century and (ii) never had any
> factual basis.

excellent points.  but how did whites fix on "Rastus"?


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