This week’s installment centers on Loren Kajikawa’s book chapter “The Possessive Investment in Classical Music: Confronting Legacies of White Supremacy in U.S. Schools and Departments of Music” from the volume Seeing Race Again: Countering Colorblindness Across the Disciplines, edited by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Luke Charles Harris, Daniel Martinez HoSang, and George Lipsitz. This chapter is included as a resource on our Anti-Racism Music Resources page.
A statement of diversity and inclusion is not enough nor is a one-credit hour global music requirement so long as the core of our BMus and BA degree programs perpetuates the myth of a “legit” music that stands apart from all other musics. As Dr. Kajikawa asserts, a hierarchical organization of music mirrors a “hierarchy of human types with racialized bodies at the bottom and white people on top” (159). This reading will challenge almost everything many of us have taken for granted in what we have required music students take and what we have not required. The purpose of his essay, as Kajikawa makes clear, is not to “condemn the ongoing study and performance of Beethoven and Mozart as inherently racist” (157). No. Its purpose, rather, is to compel all of us to understand how we got here. How and why we came to identify what music is required study and what music is not. Some questions the essay invites us to ask ourselves are: What does it mean to be musically proficient? What else can we study to attain musical proficiency or proficiencies? How might a music curriculum come out of our surrounding communities as the department and university move toward a reparative mission as we reckon with our racist history? These are questions whose answers can and should materialize into what we teach and require for study if we want to make systemic change.
Crenshaw, Kimberlé, Luke C. Harris, Daniel HoSang, and George Lipsitz. Seeing Race Again: Countering Colorblindness Across the Disciplines. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2019. https://catalog.lib.unc.edu/?utf8=%E2%9C%93&search_field=title&q=%22Seeing+race+again+%3A+countering+colorblindness+across+the…%22