Racism has existed in music, too. We all know how Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis and other black trumpeters were treated. The thing I find a bit ironic was that the white people loved their music, but still treated them like sub-human citizens? I don't know. Very odd.
I believe culture has much to do with this. It is my understanding that Miles had great respect for the French. He truly enjoyed the times he stayed there, and didn't experience the racial pressures there as he did in the US. In fact, many American jazz greats have maintained their base in Europe (Kenny Drew is another example). Remember it was our great country that traded in slavery.