And it did not go well.
I had always heard that her performances in America was lambasted, and wondered if that was perhaps because she was, understandably, nervous to be returning.
But then, I’d never read the New York Times Review. It said, “In France a Negro wench always has a head start” (this statement is insane) and then went on:
“To Manhattan theatergoers last week she was just another buck-toothed Negro woman whose figure might be matched in any night-club show, and whose dancing and singing might be topped anywhere outside of Paris.”
Critics almost universally complained when she performed the French cabaret songs that had made her famous rather than “Harlem songs.”
A reviewer from an Amsterdam paper was outraged by this condemnation and claimed, “Harlem should rally to the side of this courageous Negro woman. We should make her insults our insults.
America simply wasn’t ready for a black woman to be considered an object of intense desire, rather than someone out of a minstrel show. They probably also weren’t ready for her leopard leaping into the orchestra pit, the way people in France were prepared.
America during this period kind of sucked, you guys. I know certain politicians talk a lot about the “good old days” but I am not sure if this is what they’re referring to.