Student 1: Dafne Rubio

“I think that even though Minstrelsy created many racial stereotypes against black people, it also did give some sort of leeway for new opportunities. I believe that in spite of everything, Minstrelsy provided many blacks with opportunities. It helped introduce black culture to American theaters; even though it was not in the best way possible, in one way or another, it helped get give exposure to many talented black artists. Bert William and George walker's duo, which later turned into a trio, broke many color barriers by helping introduce a new kind of comedy that attracted both a black and a white audience. The cakewalk helped cross the color barrier into the mainstream market; many cakewalks competition became popular. If Minstrelsy had not existed, I do not think integration would have happened any sooner. This is because it was during this period that black musicals succeeded in gaining a worldwide audience, and when it started influencing the way we dance, this was also when barriers started breaking. I think that If Minstrelsy had not occurred, it would have taken more time for integration to happen because it would have taken longer for White individuals to accept black culture and for black artists to gain exposure.”

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Student 2: Ezra

I would argue that "Minstrelsy was largely responsible for forwarding stereotypes of racism" is the best statement that reflects the impact of minstrelsy on black American performers.

The successes of Bert Williams and George Walker, despite being two of the most prominent black performers in minstrelsy, highlight the limitations and constraints they faced as black performers. They were forced to perform in blackface and play into racist stereotypes in order to make a living. Their success must be understood in the context of the broader system of racial oppression and the limited opportunities available to black performers at the time.

The perpetuation of harmful and racist stereotypes through minstrelsy helped to reinforce and maintain the system of racial oppression and segregation. This is demonstrated by Barbara Glass in her book "African American Dance" where she notes that minstrelsy was a highly influential genre in American popular culture and had a lasting impact on the representation of African Americans. Despite the efforts of some black performers to challenge the racist stereotypes perpetuated by the genre, it continued to be a dominant force in shaping the cultural and racial attitudes of the time.

It is impossible to say for certain if integration would have happened sooner if minstrelsy hadn't existed, as there were many factors at play in the push for racial equality and integration. However, it is likely that the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes through minstrelsy helped to maintain the system of racial oppression and segregation, delaying progress towards equality and integration.

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