By stressing Armstrong’s belief in “self-discipline, self-improvement, self-reliance,” and through the selective use of quotes, Teachout sets Armstrong in conflict with his own people. He makes him appear to be a Negro-hating Negro.
Bitter Armstrong letters are quoted from 1969, when black power had subverted the civil rights movement and people of his generation were being dismissed or insulted.
Teachout ignores this context and gives the impression that Armstrong hated his own ethnic group. But Teachout is after more than name-calling. His point is that the problems experienced by black people were not attributable to racism, institutional and otherwise. No, their unwillingness to work hard or take responsibility for their fates or to help the ambitious among them is why those destined to succeed must count on the kindness of white people.
And neither will the Siberian Dixieland Jazz Band’s Boris Balakhnin:
“I listen to Armstrong more and more, and the more I listen, the more I admire him as a musician and as a singer and as a person … Now I think he is the greatest jazz musician of all time.”