I owe the totality of the life I live today, in music and otherwise, to the music of Black Americans. Music shaped me and has provided everything in my life: my family, my home, my job, my friends, my community.
I have benefited my entire life (like my ancestors before me, and after me for the foreseeable future) from a system expressly designed to hold people down. From slavery to Jim Crow to redlining to mass incarceration, American “legalization” of oppression of our Black brothers and sisters has never abated. This moment we are in is not new. Indeed, it isn’t a “moment”.
I recognize, and have always recognized, that I am a “guest at the table” (thanks to Nicholas Payton for the correct words) in this music, and in my job in the Miles Davis Jazz Studies Program at UNCG. While I grew up listening to and loving jazz, it was my discovery of Mr. Davis' music that truly set me on my path. It has not been lost on me that I, a white Midwesterner by birth, am now the director of jazz studies at a school bearing the name of one of American music's most potent voices on race relations. I take that responsibility with grave seriousness.
I have made mistakes, and will continue to, in my pursuit of proper and complete advocacy for all marginalized people. The barriers must fall, and reparations must be made. It won’t be fast or simple, but this “moment” musn’t be wasted, and I refuse to look back on it and say I didn’t do my part.
I want to believe that my children, hopefully, will be able to look back at the end of their lives and feel that the steps we took together here changed America, that we *finally* worked as one to tip the scales.
And to my friends far and wide who disagree with what I have said here in any way shape or form, I don’t speak for you. I speak for me. Don’t fill my comments feed with contrarian viewpoints, memes, and/or counterattacks – I won’t and don’t do that. We’ll have a dialogue in person somewhere, someday. But the only way we can have a rational dialogue about these issues is to be coming from the same information. I keep recommending that people read “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo and “We Were Eight Years in Power” (who has my copy?) by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Please do. In the words of Brian Lampkin, “Books are good. Books help.” You can start here, one of the most powerful chapters in Coates’ book - https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/
Black Lives Matter. It’s 2020. 155 years since Emancipation. 122 years since Wilmington. 99 years since Tulsa. 55 years since Selma…
…and a week since George Floyd was murdered. That alone should have been long enough. Much love to all of you.