The distinguished composer Mary Jane Leach, an expert on the music of her late colleague Julius Eastman, was thrown off campus in July when she tried to refer to Eastman’s works by the controversial given names.
Now Leach gives her side of the sorry story:
…. What I hadn’t known was that there had been earlier discussions before the festival about whether it would be ethical for me, a white woman, to speak about a gay black man, and that the moderator of the post-lecture discussion—the leader of an activist group of queer people of color—agreed to take part in what I later learned would be characterized as a “facilitation that unpacks privilege in the conversation around Eastman’s work and Mary Jane’s life in relation thereof.”
What was missing in that premise is the reason why I find it so important to speak and write about Eastman: In a time when identity politics command so much attention—most of it well-deserved and long past its due—it’s also important to stress that he was more than a gay black man. He was also a musician and composer of immense talent. While I am not a gay black man, I am a musician and composer, and Eastman and I were colleagues, having first met in 1981 …
Read on here.