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What White Musicians can do to heal the Racial Divide in America

If musicians are healers, then equity and justice should matter to us.


-Teaching requires trying to respect and understand all students.

– Playing music goes hand in hand with respecting the culture it comes from

-Music should aspire to express love towards ourselves and others.

As Michelle Obama said, it’s up to everyone… to educate and/or become educated..

As someone who draws inspiration for much of my work from Black American Music, I feel it’s my responsibility to speak directly to other white American musicians and educators.

So what can white Americans do to help heal the racial divide in crisis-ridden America?

Churchgoing friends of mine have told me that in order to seek redemption, they believe they must first acknowledge being influenced somehow by sin.

Saying “I am a sinner” could mean “I was born a sinner”, “I’ve made mistakes”, or something more nuanced, depending on interpretation.

It does not equate with being a bad or evil person. On the contrary, It’s a proactive step towards being good.

The same holds true with Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Transphobia, et al,

Being an ally, doing our part (the part of white people) to heal the country, or whatever you want to call it, starts with acknowledging that each of us is personally influenced by systemic racism.

We need to at least acknowledge, quietly to ourselves, that we are unconscious contributors or participants in racism somehow. Acknowledging that “I am privileged” doesn’t really go far enough.

I’m not making this up and it’s not news.

As far as I understand, scholars agreed more than 30 years ago: 1) Race is a social construct. 2) We are all racist.

Many White people resist acknowledging it about ourselves, for fear of being misconstrued or seen as evil, bad and wrong..

Acknowledging the truth of it is the first necessary step to build trust with people or communities who are not white, and to move past our fear and guilt.

Because it’s not just about one cop we demonize or project onto… it’s about each of us.

Regardless how far any one of us may feel we have evolved or been re-educated, we’re not immune to the systemic racism that has touched everyone older than 6, 10, or 15, or whatever age we were infected, as if by a virus.

Acknowledging that you are unconsciously influenced by racism, is not saying you are a bad person, or that you want to be racist.

It could be the opposite. The sooner we own it, like an addict, the sooner we can move past fear into love.

Related: Is the Classical Music World Too White?

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