A statement on Black Lives Matter
“You cannot enjoy the rhythm and ignore the blues.” – Amanda Seales
It would be naïve for the Student Working Groups to not acknowledge the position of privilege we are in due to our race, the colour of our skin and because of our position in an international organisation. As a newly formed network, we want to use our platform to send a message of solidarity to our black colleagues – students, staff, musicians, creatives, humans – and say that we stand with you.
The brutal murder of George Floyd is another example of how some members of society – whether they explicitly know it or not – vilify people of colour. The protests happening across the world prove a growing discontent and a desperate yearning for change.
But how can we, educational institutions and creative practitioners help, with concrete actions?
“All too often, classroom teachers and school leaders subscribe to an ethos of color-mute racism, deliberately suppressing conversations about race and racism, even as the country is in racial peril.”
By deliberately suppressing the “uncomfortable topic” of race, we are a part of the problem. Being involved in education, we have a collective responsibility to discuss race and to break the cycle of systemic and unconscious racism that is embedded within our societies and learning communities.
The Student Working Group turn to staff members at higher music education institutions and ask that they decolonise their curricula: champion and celebrate black artists, black musicians, black industry professionals. Invite them for masterclasses, integrate their works into the curriculum, and discuss their involvement in the creative industries.
We also encourage you to reach out to organisations for training on tackling systemic racism and unconscious bias. Waive audition fees, and offer scholarships to black students who are so desperately underrepresented and who also suffer the largest economical barriers in obtaining higher education qualifications. Internal reviews and action plans can look good on paper, but concrete actions must be birthed from these.
We understand that discussions surrounding race, ethnicity and gender can be uncomfortable. However, it is our moral duty to push ourselves out of our comfort zones to make our ‘glocal’ societies and communities more equal and enriched.
There is no room for racism in our learning spaces, our competitions, or concert halls. Our colleagues are exhausted from years of oppression and social barriers that were constructed. We have a responsibility now to help make the world a truly better, equal and enriched place to live. We cannot afford to miss out on black excellence any longer.
We also turn to students and alumni of member institutions: you are not alone. Please join our network, as we try to move forward and create workshops and tools on tackling this firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition, we will be attending the conference ‘Decolonising the Musical University’ conference hosted online by Edinburgh University. Details can be found here.
With love and solidarity,
— AEC Student Working Group