There is a seriously ass-backward understanding of the blues & jazz music, namely, blues = suffering/pain. The all-too-common manifestations of this misconstrued notion look something like “the cat hasn’t seen enough hardship, he/she doesn’t/can’t know the blues”, or “I’ve seen pain, I know the blues”. And it’s only all too perfect in this ignorance-is-bliss and ass-backward world, drunk in its self worship and entitlement, otherwise known as narcissism…
Obviously, this egregious notion is referring to the inhumane atrocities committed against the African Americans during the time of birth of these musical genres. And it is pretty clear that this music(both Blues & Jazz) was created, at least in part, out of the need to alleviate and endure the pain. I.e., the music stands as a great testament to the musical ingenuity and heritage of the African Americans as well as to the enduring human spirit. I.e., the music is a powerfully cathartic form of healing and joy that could counter the insensible cruelty and ignorance of this world.
Where it gets tricky is when equating the value of the music with that of the hardships placed upon its original creators. That is a heavy offense and should be considered as an attempt at justification of the slavery. And thus, making clear distinction between the two, the music itself vs. the story behind it, becomes ever so important in this case. (Yes, there are other cases where it's important and utterly necessary to understand the history behind the music, even for purely musical reasons, if not just for being a decent human being. And perhaps that's what makes it tricky; knowing when to distinguish and when to merge in order to see the bigger picture and in service of the music/justice/humanity.) Yet, this false notion is consistently manifested/expressed in the mainstream culture in a ubiquitous fashion as well as, tragically, being found all over the place even in the original musical genres themselves, with many of its greatest artists uttering phrases like “feeling blue”, “when you really know the blues”, "too well I know the meaning of the blues", etc.
The distinction may seem subtle, but the critical points are:
1. Jazz & Blues is a legitimate musical art form that requires lots of study and practice in order to achieve any level of proficiency and,
2. suffering or hardship is not a medal of honor to wear proudly.
To elaborate on the second point, the good and wise ones among those that had to go through and survived real hardships either don’t show it or don't like to show it. In many cases, they actually end up building a fine and firm character for themselves which may be considered an even greater testament to the enduring human spirit, regardless of whether or not it was done as a way to hide the pain. That is the true meaning of being noble.
Outside of such obvious examples of violation and injustice against humanity that was slavery and is racism- which ought to be fought against with all of one’s might and wit, yes, we ought to try our best to see the hardships in life as opportunities to grow and to express our higher selves. But no, there’s no meaning or merit to suffering or hardship within and of themselves. Rather, it’s the enduring human spirit and the wisdom that gets one through life’s suffering we’re supposed to be celebrating about, e.g., the actual music that is Blues and Jazz. That is, when we've made the full circle back to being sane.