Dear Diary, today I learned…

Over the past few months, we have faced an “unprecedented” pandemic, impacting communities and societies without prejudice world wide. These categorizations allowed us to feel a disconnect to the realities of our realities. Words like unprecedented, never-before, and unparalleled described this COVID-19 health crisis.

Then, on May 25, 2020, George Floyd experienced something that doesn’t fit any of these descriptions. It was not an “unprecedented” moment, it was not a “never-before” moment, and certainly not an “unparalleled” moment. His death, and too many like his was all too common. The response, movement, and protests that followed have done so much in a short amount of time. We are moving, I believe that. I am moving, I know that.

The reflections that have followed (speaking for myself) have been a deep dive into what I know, what I don’t know, what I’ve ignored, or even what I’ve disregarded. Today, I made the time to view the “Decunstructing White Privilage with Dr. Robin DiAngelo” from 2017. There were a number of reflection prompts I experienced, but 1 particular moment struck a chord.

Dr. DiAngelo’s discussion of the “most effective adaptation of racism” is this the “good/bad binary” (at 15:10 in the video). I immediately thought about some of the music education conversations in recent years. As I continue to expand my understanding of the opportunities we have for music education in schools and the ways that students are musicking in and out of the school environment, I am a strong advocate for expanding the music experiences we encourage or allow, provide or enable in our classrooms. I question if some educators have subconsciously or inadvertently or blatently been driven by their own racism? Has the “good/bad binary” that exists, especially in white people, been a driving force behind designing and perpetuating a system of right/wrong music in our schools? Is what was once dismissed as our school music “tradition”, or those educators resistant to the changes as “it’s just what they know” actually been rooted in a more problematic space.

I think back on so many private & public discussions, off hand remarks, and social media interactions that have pushed back on grounds that non Western Art Music lacks quality, skill, meaning, complexity, and more. Those discussions resonate with familiarity in the current racial moment we are in. Too often dismissive and critical of contemporary artists and styles, educators focus on a style of music that has historically been a high-class white privilage. As I continue to dig into my own understanding of who I am and how I got to this place in my life, I wonder what changes we will see in our future? I can only control my own response and advocate for and assist others to reflect and respond in their way. In the meantime…

 

 


General Commission on Religion and Race of The UMC. “Deconstructing White Privilege with Dr. Robin DiAngelo.” YouTube, YouTube, 20 Mar. 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=h7mzj0cVL0Q&feature=emb_logo.

Small, C. (1998). Musicking: The meanings of performing and listening. Hanover: University Press of New England.

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