Living the Classical Life, a show hosted by brilliant pianist Zsolt Bognár, features disproportionately white classical musicians. The show’s subliminal message is that Black classical musicians aren’t worth interviewing.
During Bognár’s current Facebook fund drive, I commented on the shows lack of Blackness and complicity in classical music’s white supremacy. Immediately, my candor was met with white fragility and racist attacks.
“You’re a c*nt!”, wrote a white man. He then blocked himself.
In classical music’s typical white face, Bognár’s conservative white bourgeois “community” disrespects my Black lived experience of racism.
he [Bognár] has the respect of our community. You do…
Artist management companies in 2020 are in dire financial straits. Excluding Black artists and audiences leaves millions of dollars on the table annually. Still, they make no effort to adopt the Black community’s cultural values.
Racism is more valuable.
No principal classical agency has Black agents. Artist management companies don’t socialize with Blacks and there isn’t a financial push for racial diversity from white boards, artists, presenters, and audiences. Agencies don’t sell classical music; they sell blissful trips away from the anxiety-inducing anonymous Blacks of daily life.
Artist managements sell aural excursions of white supremacy.
None made mission statements in…
At this point in classical music’s Black Lives Matter movement, the carpet must match the drapes when programming Black composers.
US orchestras could stand to learn from superstar Black director Ava DuVernay. She makes sure the director, writer, and/or creator is representative of the story’s culture.
Instead of seizing the BLM movement to grant Black conductors central cultural membership to the genre and eschew institutionalized racism, US orchestras continue to program Black (culture) composers (writers) with white conductors (directors).
The carpet doesn’t match the drapes.
Activists alert society of an immediate need for change. We force whites (including those who need to be white) to play double-dutch while reflecting on the deleterious effect their whiteness has on Black bodies.
Black musicians are complicit in classical music’s white supremacy by remaining silent. We’re afraid of losing white opportunities, relationships and networks. We dance a perpetual do-si-do of respectability politics. At the end of the day, we realize that the acquisition of mainstream success — and our sense of self worth as an artist — is at the behest of whites. …
Music of the Black diaspora is thriving, while Western classical music is dying. Yet, orchestras wish to remain White and poor. Why?
Exclusivity through White supremacy is classical music’s raison d’être. Unable to separate ethnography from artistry, American orchestras repeatedly hire White European male music directors, equating quality with geographic proximity to the music’s source. Still, they fail both economically and artistically.
But the Covid-19 pandemic and economic fallout prove White musicians playing White composers for only White audiences isn’t sustainable.
A white terrorist in Hanau murders innocent people of color (PoC) prompting vigils. Orchestras play tacitly “Remember the Brown People,” victims they’d never imagine attending concerts. The Brandenburg Gate, a symbol of division and unity, is temporarily cordoned off in remembrance, as many pout, “Uh! No selfie today?”
Reflection on racism is only tolerated when PoC are murdered. Martyrdom brings temporary empathy and condemnation of racism. We scream daily for justice and equity. You don’t listen. You silence us. I won’t be silent.
Tolerance is the backdoor to acceptance.
It lets white Germans acknowledge racism, but eschew responsibility for examining…
To be a Negro in this country, and to be relatively conscious, is to be in a rage almost all the time. — James Baldwin
I know this rage.
I was enraged when Chicago cops ran up to my car at night and put guns to my head. I’m enraged I’ll never drive in the US for fear of being shot. I’m enraged that my heart jumps wherever I see police worldwide.
Growing up in the South, I learned that white words kill. Death has no rules except to snuff me out. Amy Cooper knew. Black men are never believed.
Lynchings aren’t a wrinkle in time. They’re present day.
Lynching postcards were all the rage in the early 19th century. The postcard above depicts the live burning of Will Stanley in Temple, Texas. The sender refers to it as a “barbecue we had last night.”
Lends a whole new meaning to the phrase “Black cookout” doesn’t it?
These relics of hate and memoriams to genocide served as a cool balm for a depressed and bitter postbellum South, made livid by sudden forced proximity with their former property. Can you imagine the anguish of these sore losers?
Jimbo, who you once…
There’s party at Rona’s, and nobody white is missing a beat.
“Crack open the corona Tanner! Wash down this semester's stress with some fun in the sun!”
It’s Spring break for white people. The rest of us are quarantined.
This year’s corona isn’t a thirst quencher, unless you count liquefied lungs. 2020’s corona sends you on a feverish booty-shaking romp to the emergency room, sometimes dancing all the way to the grave. But you can’t tell white kids that. Nope, can’t tell them anything.
“If I get corona, I get corona,” said one white guy in a recent CBS interview.