I remember awhile ago (last week) I was only the porch playing Banjo. Funny thing that my house has plantation style attributes. I was on one of the rocking chairs (it just gets worse) and I figured out how to play Dixie. This "white" guy and "brown" guy passed the front of my house and I saw them like at the last minute...
I myself am not "white" but I think I might have come across as an asshole. Not that I'm putting myself down, but it just seemed really inappropriate. I honestly don't know why I didn't look around to make sure no one (which is to say everyone). Now to take some time to lament at the Banjo's reputation and plight.
It's very sad that the Banjo gained such an awful reputation and stigma. Sadly it was an instrument stolen from the African slaves who invented it. The Banjo (if you do some research) has it's roots in the traditional African instruments such as the string gourd-belly instruments. The banjo is their instrument. Unfortunately it was ruined.
I'm sure we are all familiar with "Dixie". It's a great solo instrumental, but the lyrics are definately something I'll never jam to. After all that song is about a slave who runs away from a plantation and wants to go back, for some reason... And it doesn't help that the banjo was the popular instrument for the Minstrels.
Poor old Banjo was taken in and played with by "whites" getting in Blackface and making fools out of themselves and singing the most stereotypical, prejudiced and ignorant songs. The Banjo was used in every sense of that word. It's sad really, what I would like to do is go and clear the Banjo's name and show what a great instrument it is.
Historical context and usage shouldn't follow an instrument the way it has for the Banjo. The death of a great instrument for which much historical American music was written for. And an instrument that was stolen from a people who suffered for genenerations.