Music schools are faced with BLM demands

Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio has received demands from a group of students for:
1 Inclusion of Black faculty in governance
2 An anti-racism colloquium
3 An African American music department
4 Community outreach
5 Creating a culture of anti-racism
6 Ensuring that staff hired in future have an awareness of the importance of Black music
7 Black music to be part of audition requirements
… and more.

 

And this has landed at Blair:

To the administration, faculty, staff, and board of the Blair School of Music,
Throughout their history, music institutions such as schools and ensembles have
benefitted from and perpetuated systems of white supremacy while constructing rhetorical
frameworks that rationalize prejudice. These same systems permeate our inherently racist
society and manifest in the recent police murders of
 Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George

Floyd, and thousands of Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color. On June 13th,
the Blair School released a statement in the wake of these losses, affirming its “dedication to
equity, diversity, and inclusion.” These buzzwords ring empty without a comprehensive and
transparent plan to act on that dedication, as some other music schools have published. The
writers of this letter, being a group of white and non-Black people of color, feel responsible to do
our part in dismantling these racist systems. As a coalition of Blair School of Music students
and alumni with a deep appreciation for the quality education and intellectual rigor our
school provides, we write this letter with three aims:
● To acknowledge how our school has avoided meaningfully addressing white supremacy
and anti-Blackness in our institution and the music field at large;
● To propose a course of action to begin becoming an actively anti-racist institution;
● To start a dialogue with Blair administration, faculty, staff, and board members about
how to implement lasting changes.

 

 

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      • The racism.

        The historical problems of African Americans are not the result of white people. It is the result of black elites in Africa who enslaved their ancestors for profit by selling them on to white elites. Do you notice the common factor? It is certainly neither race, not classical music.

        By the way, and around the same time, those same elites enslaved my and millions of others’ ancestors by stealing their common land (Enclosure Acts) and forcing them into factories (whose products were happily acquired by the above black elites in exchange for slaves!). Those that remained in the countryside endured one of the worst famines in history in supposedly richest country in the world at that time. That was the miserable lot of most whites in the UK at the time of African-European slavery, and there are the millions of white slaves (mostly Slavs), enslaved by the Turkish empire, … . Funny, none of this is taught in schools today, nor is the idea of reparations. I wonder why? Hint – the elites!

        • “The historical problems of African Americans are not the result of white people”

          Yeah I stopped reading your comment after that. I guess the hundreds of years of slavery in the U.S. gets a pass because some other countries had slaves too…

          Absolutely insane logic.

          • Perhaps you should have gritted your teeth, read it all, and tried to understand the points SamUchida was making: class/aristocratic elites/wealth discrepancies play a part; not all white people, and not only white people, are responsible.
            Then you would be entitled to give your opinion on the logic of the comment.

          • A war was fought to end slavery. No other nation has done this; slaves of other races fought for their own freedom.
            Make of that what you will.

          • As someone said about British slavery-denying discourse, it often seems that for the British, slavery existed only so that it could be abolished; one could say the same about the virtuous ‘the US fought a war to end slavery!’ whitewashing.
            To fight a war to end slavery, there must be slavery. Just like in SamUchida’s bonkers argument above blaming “Black elites in Africa” for selling slaves (are the White elites who bought them blameless? Poor them, innocently buying human beings!), to focus discourse on the abolition of slavery is done with one aim in mind: to obscure the basic fact that slavery existed, that its economic effect largely built Western societies, and that it entails long-lasting legacies that still impact the contemporary world. And that’s a basic, undeniable fact, as established by a plethora of historical work.

          • 1) Where does SamUchida say or imply that White elites are innocent?
            2) Where does SamUchida mention the abolitionist movement in his argument?
            3) Slavery existed in Africa before the European slave trade, both within African societies and from Arab slavers and slave-traders.
            4) Only the ignorant would deny (nowadays, admittedly) that African slavery was a factor in the economy of
            Western societies, especially in the sugar and cotton trades; the degree of its importance, in isolation from other factors (some of which were mentioned by SamUchida), could be sensibly addressed by an economic historian. I am not one.
            5) I agree absolutely that for people to pat themselves on the back over abolition without castigating themselves over slavery and the slave trade would be illogical and loathsome. The abolitionist movement is part of history, just as slavery is; both merit unbiased study.
            6) Why do my hackles rise when I hear the phrase “That’s a fact”?

          • I responded to Bone and only mentioned SamUchida in passing. But let’s go in order:
            1-“The historical problems of African Americans are not the result of white people.” Clear enough.
            2- I responded to Bone there.
            3- That’s a deflection, ignores the specificity and the entrenchment of slavery in the West, and is simply not relevant to a discussion of slavery in the Americas (just as irrelevant as are Biblical slavery, slavery in ancient Greece, Rome, etc.).
            4/5- We agree.
            6- It is a basic fact – as in, broadly uncontested among serious historians. There is no meaningful disagreement among scholars and experts on this point.

          • Thank you, Emil. Any disagreement I have with you is peripheral and unimportant. My reaction to “that’s a fact” goes back to my Scottish ancestors: back there, that phrase, spoken belligerently and with a finger waved beneath the nose of the opponent, is a way to stop argument and start a fight! Apologies.

          • How do you feel about the Africans who created this practice themselves using inferiority and caste to sell off their own along with the Jews who engaged in this practice?

            It will be quite interesting to see how much these races will owe to those they have wronged along with the amounts considering Africa owes their own now known as African-Americans.

          • Ok, we’re doing NY Times articles now: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/1619-america-slavery.html

            Re. your article, you may have missed the part where Gates was roundly criticised by multiple historians. And, once again, as far as the question is about the place of slaves in Western countries, African slave-traders did not import slaves to European and American countries. African slave traders did not create the market that made such slaves a valuable commodity. African slave traders did not use these slaves to construct a global trade system that created immense wealth in the West. African slave traders did not create the legal infrastructure that entrenched slavery in the West and perpetuated its effects. And African slave traders did not construct a racial hierarchy of values to support that economic system.

          • Emil

            Your line of argument is bizarre on at least two fronts at once – congratulations!

            First. I actually agree with the statements you make about the ‘African slave traders’ (as you call them, assuming by that you mean the rulers of the African fiefdoms that enslaved their own people) – why on earth do you think I don’t? You like winning ‘straw man’ arguments?

            Second. People are responsible for the acts they commit, not the acts of others. Whilst the African elites did not import slaves into the Americas, they certainly exported them. Worse, they created the slaves in the first place out of their own people for that purpose. Why? To paraphrase your words – to create enormous wealth and power for themselves. Is there a single serious historian that will deny this? I think not.

            Am I making straw men like you? What relevance does this have to today’s African Americans, and more importantly, to the tens of millions of slaves, slaving as we write? Let’s hear what the horse has to say – today’s leaders of the African slave exporting countries (Nigeria, Ghana, Benin …). They insist on the primacy of Africa’s role in the slave trade – no such trade could have existed without the African elite’s instigation of slavery and subsequent connivance with the Arab and European elites. So much so, that if you are the ancestor of a Ghanaian slave you can go to Ghana where a tribal leader will wash your feet! A magnificent gesture of reconciliation I can only hope will be offered to me one day in the future by the Anglo-Irish elite, who forced my ancestors to slave on Irish plantations (look it up on Wiki) for 300 years, and even inflict on them man-made famine. I don’t hold my breath!

            The wokers’ thesis – that Africans were so feeble they were incapable of resisting the all powerful Europeans, is flat out racism and white supremacy of the worst kind. Of course they could, but for their greedy elite. I support calls for reparations from the elite for slavery and its consequences, but that must include the African, as well as European and Arab elites (I repeat – they are not absolved!). It must also include reparations for the slavery in Ireland and many other places, for example, the two million Slavs enslaved by the Ottoman Empire. African American descendants of slaves are special only in one respect – unlike most other Americans, who are simply willing economic migrants or descendants of such, their ancestors were forcibly deported to the Americas as slaves by their own elites. This fundamental fact (which by the way explains why, e.g., Asian Americans for example have been economically successful but not African Americans) is downplayed only by those who are the foot soldiers of today’s elites. In that there is little difference between today’s ‘cultural socialists’ and their national cousins.

            It is about elites. It is not white versus black. That is a racist agenda of the worst kind with horrendous potential consequences if realized.

          • I agree with most of what you say. But I also agree with Emil. It is not the mere fact that Africans originally came to the Americas as slaves that stood in the way of their success.They were deliberately held under over centuries by laws made by white men to protect their ‘property’, and by racial theories created by white thinkers that were used to explain/excuse the often appalling treatment of Black slaves – attitudes which horrifyingly still persist in certain quarters. But then again, ‘White Supremacy’ is an unhelpful simplification in the context of global history. Whether it makes more sense in the limited context of United States history is another question.

          • Marfisa

            You make Emil’s category error – ” … deliberately held under over centuries by laws made by white men to protect their ‘property’ …”. Which white men do you have in mind – my white ancestors who were essentially slaves themselves (having no property of any kind whatsoever and tied to the land they tilled, thanks to the Enclosure Acts, written at the time of African slavery – that is no coincidence!), my disenfranchised grand uncle, slaughtered aged 19 at Passchendaele in 1917 or the vast majority of white families, harnessed to the elite’s yoke in the same way and with the same sad history, and sometimes far worse? If you had written ‘white elite’ in place of ‘white men’ I would have completely agreed. Remember that a white woman was head of the British Empire at its zenith. It has nothing to do with color or gender. The elite’s propaganda just makes you think that way (you have been ‘hoodwinked’) so they don’t get the blame for their actions.

            Powerful, wealthy self-seeking elites, not skin color is the problem. That is all I am saying – what is hard about that to understand? (I answered this above!). Look at what the black elite do now in Africa – the 2012 Marikana massacre of miners when the current South African president, at the time on the board of the mining company concerned (!!!) , described the strike activity of the miners as ‘criminal’, at the least encouraging the (black-elite commanded) police to do their worst. Worst still – Rwanda in 1994, where the elite pitted Rwandan against Rwandan, resulting in a million deaths in 100 days. The elites implicated are ‘running around’ free right now. Why? There are many other examples of course. It was the ancestors of these same black elites that were primarily responsible for African slavery. Let’s shout that out. Remember it is black people who suffer most from the the black elites. Hiding their crimes is indeed racism.

          • SamUchida
            Since we are now just repeating ourselves, may I repeat the last two sentences of my comment:
            “‘White Supremacy’ is an unhelpful simplification in the context of global history. Whether it makes more sense in the limited context of United States history is another question.”
            And from an earlier comment: “not all white people, and not only white people, are responsible.”
            But I should have known better than to involve myself in a dog-fight.

          • A great number of people try to distort facts and rearrange and beautiful them to justify inhumane acts. A good question to ask would be, as a person will you buy a fellow human if it was Permissible in this age.

          • Somehow a civil war wasn’t required to end slavery in many countries. Make of that what you will.

          • “…. I stopped reading your comment after that.” You know why “violafan”? Because YOU are a RACIST in your heart, so it keeps silent when you face ACTUAL RACISM!!

          • Girls like you are insane.

            You need to research the roots of slavery as Africans CREATED the practice using criminals and those in lower caste. Africans used them as slave labor themselves then sold them off to other close countries like Israel with the Sephardic Jews which brokered them to other lands like India. It further spread to what came to be known as Great Britain and America.

            Slavery is actively occurring TODAY in Africa. Nigeria, Mali, Liberia and Sierra Leone have chosen to continue this savagery.

      • This is all VERY FUNNY Emil!!

        Hahahahhaaa!!!!

        Blokes like these CHOSE the wrong school to go to instead of going to either a black music school or to another country who’s schools align with THEIR own values.

        There are plenty of schools worldwide who can educate them “the WAY they want to be educated”; so just go to one of them.

        The only thing is, these people only force one minority group above all others. It’s quite racist to exclude others, isn’t it??

          • Here’s a suggestion then. You and your intake, en masse, give free music lessons in the nearest poor neighborhood. Better still, get the college to pay (or even give grants to your new local students!) from their $1,000,000,000 cash pile it has stashed away.

            The token demands in that letter, made by the privileged elite like you (you must be, to have had high quality music lessons for most of your life), change nothing for the poor, denied your privileged life opportunities. For that to change the ill-gotten (by slavery or otherwise) wealth of the elites that you represent needs to be taken back and used for benefit of those who actually created the wealth in the first place.

            Of course, that is the last thing you want ( judging by your letter). Rather you deliberately divert the blame for slavery and its dire consequences from the elites (the enslaving African fiefdoms and the white and black slave holders) onto those least capable of defending themselves. Typical!

          • Exactly. Put your money where your mouth is — literally. Open your own wallet and have these institutions actually practice what they preach — financially, and not just on paper or for the purposes of cheap PR. Talk is cheap — actions speak much louder than mere words.

        • In S Africa the minority is white yet twenty six years into majority rule, laws exclude whites from jobs on racial grounds. It’s reverse apartheid. There’s no international outrage, barely any criticism, and it is getting worse. The ANC government excluded white business-owners from benefitting from government aid during lockdown, and the captured High Court endorsed the decision. People in the US and European countries need to look to African dictatorships for the most rampant racism on the planet.

        • ??? How???
          An anti-racism colloquium is racist, now?

          As for the rest, to qualify them as racist is nonsense. The inclusion of African American and Black music is a basic academic debate over what is academically significant. The boundaries of what is ‘important’ and not important in any field are constantly being contested. In my field, we do it all the time: which authors should we read, which are not important enough to be taught, etc. This is basically the same thing: an argument that Black music matters, and that is important to musical education (by the way, as always, you read in a ‘remove White music’ which is plainly not there – you’re imagining things that do not exist. These demands are about addition, enhancement, not about subtraction).

          • The ones I pointed out are requesting privilege, special treatment, based on race. I call that racist. I would say that demanding a Black composer or writer is included in a course based on Blackness is racist and disruptive to education. I would like to believe that writers are included because their work is relevant and important to the syllabus. They are there based on merit. Black music doesn’t matter. Good music written by Black composers matters. Maybe you don’t like it but the fact remains the history of classical music is white. The history of science is white. In the future it may not be. What you described with authors, is fine. Its inclusion based on importance, not race. The demands of the students is race driven and number 7 is pure idiocy. End of rant.

    • Dear Not Insane –
      USA is a great place. But, the cancer of leftism, which destroys everything it touches, may come to your home next. Beware.

      • ……..or the cancer of crypto fascism and throwing out the constitution may come to your home next…………which seems much more likely to me….

        • I’m very sorry to have to agree with this. Having zero existential threats to contend with the people are turning on themselves and have been doing so for nearly a decade now. Sad and neurotic people. But I’m sure there are still the wonderful people who are open-hearted, hard-working, warm and friendly. It is they whom I feel sorry for.

          • Zero existential threats? Your definition must be different than mine. You think terrorism is over? Is poverty not an existential threat? There’s enough of it in the world. And racist horrors — not only in America — think of Burma, and the Chinese and the Uighurs, to name only two race-based attacks going on, and we all know there are countless more all over the world.

            And there are loads of other MASSIVE problems that are very existential to those living them or sympathising with and trying to battle them.

            What is going on is some first-world countries is a combination of vengeance, self-interest, attempts to create that they will insist on calling “equity,” too much of it in the hands of people who are thoughtless, ill-informed and unwilling and/or unable to listen and learn. (In the US this is directed from the top down, so hardly surprising).

      • Curiouser and curiouser–the USA’s great tragedies (the Civil War, the lynchings, the 1929 depression, 9-11, the 2008 economic collapse, the ongoing mass shootings) have consistently come from the RIGHT. What planet do you inhabit? Clearly not this one.

        • You mean the LEFT dear boy. You know, where the KKK originated. They still have plenty of blacks enslaved by their policies as they make money off of them.

          • The KKK did not originate on the LEFT, Kettlebrain. I’m sure I don’t need to define the word Dixiecrat for you, but if you’re still confused try asking a young person to help you use Teh Googl.

        • Dear F.P.Walter,

          A Democrat ordered the development and another Democrat ordered the use of the atomic bomb. Now, against my own habit, I will have the bad taste to draw the “H. card”: Hitler himself prohibited the development of the nukes, according to the researcher who was doing it.

        • F. P. – Civil war was begun by secessionist democrats who wanted to keep their slaves, and lynchings were exclusively a democrat hobby. Don’t give me malarky about a repub/democrat switch; its been debunked too many times. Im VERY curious how ’29, 9/11 and 2008 are the result of conservatives. please DO explain!

      • The great news is that the Democrat policies are now being inflicted directly on the Democrat neighborhoods and those people are furious!!!!!

        They (naturally) are leaving for safer places to live, nice homes, nice places to shop, better schools and going to red states.

        Here’s an excellent example of how “inclusivity and diversity” actually doesn’t fly with Libs. It promotes “white flight” —
        https://nypost.com/2020/08/08/nyc-moms-fleeing-upper-west-side-amid-crime-and-chaos/

        • So false. I live here. Nothing is going on like that – plenty of moms still around, going to the park, living their lives as normal. The NY post is a Murdoch outlet and he clearly has no association with the truth. Grow up.

          • “The Summer of Love”. You could write a melody for it. Murdoch has no association with the truth? Absolutely hilarious given the green left media which actually fed questions to HRC during the last election!! Risible indeed.

          • Most media in the US are and always have been right wing, especially those associated with Murdoch. There has never been much left media, green or otherwise.

  • Those are perfectly reasonable demands for any school that wants to deal with systemic racism. They don’t even mention more far reaching interventions such as quota, or privileging black teachers, students or music over others. Reason itself. Only people who are still sticking their fingers in their ears screaming “there is no racism! there is no racism” can object to this.

    • #1, 3 and 7 in the demand list given to Oberlin indeed partake of quotas. And it’s funny that those students haven’t learned much from the Gibson’s Bakery debacle and the subsequent huge judgement against the school for libeling the Bakery owners as racist. The classism and condescension manifest against the owners and workers at the bakery by Oberlin students, faculty and administration was amply documented in the civil trial. The court transcript or courtroom reporting should be mandatory reading for the proponents of Kendi/DiAngelo-style antiracism.

    • ” privileging black teachers, students or music over others”…..just a small query, Peter : wouldn’t that be the most overt example of racism one could find ?

    • You are 100% right, Peter, there is systemic racism in the US:
      1. Blacks have quotas everywhere
      2. Blacks are accepted in schools with lower SAT scores
      3. Blacks are first in line to get: welfare, subsidies for housing and food
      4. Blacks have preference when auditioning for a ANY job, in music schools, orchestras, etc.
      5. Blacks get easier entrance exams and lowered bar for acceptance.
      The list goes on and on and on. And of this is created by the Democratic Party of the US!

      • As a card-carrying white male, I can assure you that black people do NOT enjoy the degree of equality or preferences you list. I’m not a psychologist, but there must be name for the fantasy that many white people construct, somehow casting themselves as victims (blaming democrats…). Why do white people feel that racial equality is something over which they are the arbitrators?

      • “Blacks have preference when auditioning for a ANY job, in music schools, orchestras, etc.”

        This statement is unequivocally false and you know it. Most orchestras use a screen. Most music schools are made up of white and asian students.

        Stop making up lies because you have a white victim complex. It’s pathetic.

    • Horowitz once opened a newspaper and saw ads for his recordings on the same page with those of the Beatles. He said that in 30 years there won’t be any classical music. The man was both a piano genius of the highest order and a seer.

      • Horowitz saw those ads in the 1960s. 30 years later, well into the 1990s, Classical music and recordings were in great shape. What has negatively impacted the reach of Classical music in recent decades is not the Beatles, nor Madonna, nor even Hip Hop. Instead, it’s being undone by the endless repetition of stock repertoire (something of which Horowitz spoke many times) in concerts and on recordings, spiraling administrative costs (especially in orchestras and opera companies), and the elitist attitude which is too often seen here and other Classical oriented sites.

        Horowitz was also incensed that his signature on Steinway’s 500,000th piano was placed right next to Elton John. He was hardly a seer, he was a pianist who led a very cloistered life.

        And considering that Horowitz’s daughter marched with Dr. King and Horowitz gave a recital in King’s memory your statement is far off base.

        • I have a few drops of north East African blood in me and I’m a big jazz fan besides being a connoisseur of African antiques. I also voted for Trump. Horowitz probably wouldn’t have minded seeing his records next to those of Tatum. It’s being next to garbage he objected to.

          • Trump is your human bulldozer to push aside the rubbish of PC and its hideous orthodoxies which would find a compatible home wearing a uniform in the Russia of 1917.

            And, of course, human bulldozers don’t have finesse. Who in the world can afford the luxury of that in the modern USA?

          • To me Beethoven is garbage. Classical music essentially ended with Mozart. The so-called romantic music is degeneracy. Now imagine what I think of Elton John.

        • Music Fan who is not a music fan:
          “ the endless repetition of stock repertoire”
          You mean timeless, sublime works of art? The music that is the entire reason people got interested in classical music in the first place? The music that attracts full houses and touches peoples’ lives?
          You want to replace that with some modern noise, in order to attract MORE people? No, it will attract less people, and donors will flee.

          • And pop singers find, when they are established, and somewhat to their regret, that what the fans want to hear is their “greatest hits” at concerts, not necessarily “the new stuff.”

            In each genre, the best is what survives. The best groups can produce successful new pieces year on year, but not all their experiments work and things get quietly dropped if they fail to appeal to their core audiences.

            The musicians in all fields work on their own art, and try to bring their audiences along with them. When it’s good enough, they do. When it’s not, they can lose them.

        • Oh, you are so completely wrong! The average listener, sad to say, wants to hear the classics played beautifully. The main thing that had a negative impact on classical music was the dropping of the FTC’s requirement for quality programming, which meant it disappeared from mainstream entertainment, along with variety shows, which sometimes, or often, featured classical performers.

      • Horowitz was infatuated with Art Tatum’s playing and heard him every chance he got at the Algonquin. He was not a “seer,” though he was a frustrated gay man with the emotional stability of a four-year-old.

    • Agreed, but these people aren’t just in denial, they feel threatened because clearly they can’t handle the fact that black people share the same equal stage. It’s sad, but it also speaks to the difficulties they face, and despite white privilege, a lot of people don’t live great lives or anything, which is a social issue.

      • White privilege is a term that popped up as affirmative action was deemed institutional racism by voters in CA and the courts. Why? Because the best defense really is a good offense. WP is a political construct that doesn’t exist, dude.

      • You mean to say, they aren’t as good and so are using politics to gain advantage? Or perhaps they are just deluded by the current wave of racist radicalism… politics destroys art, consistently. They want political art. Go rap about it. Leave school. They want an Ebony & Ivory Tower.

      • You mean one and the same ‘white privilege’ which saw thousands of young pilots die over the skies of UK and Europe during the Battle of Britain?

        As Tucker Carlson would say, “ooooow; that kind of white privilege”!!

        • Are you suggesting that thousands of black people did not fight and give their lives in the same cause? Absurd.

          And many of these black veterans, who had experienced some sort of equality in the countries where they were billeted — especially the UK — had to face unbelievable discrimination when they returned to their homes.

        • No “thousands of young pilots” died defending the UK’s skies during the Battle of Britain; the count is 544.

        • Oh the irony of using Tucker Carlson to refute the existence of white privilege. Tucker has never had to work for anything in his life. He is literally a man-baby.

  • This is completely insane…
    ‘black music’ (whatever that may entail – do those of mixed race count or are they too ‘white’ for the racist left…) as an audition requirement is simply not possible for a large number of instruments, without forcing pieces of substandard quality or not of a suitably difficult (or too difficult) standard for auditions.

    • Tell that to the International Double Reed Society which has recently decreed that they are racist and will make sure audition and recital material from non-whites is substantially increased. To hell with the quality.

  • An African-American music department?

    That’s not the purpose of our conservatories.

    Why not establish a college for the study of African and African-American music?

    • The point is integration, not segregation. Its not an African American music department, it’s a music department that INCLUDES African American music.

      • Assuming they can find some that is qualified to be integrated, besides George Walker and Chevalier de Saint George.

      • Oberlin’s mission concerns Western art music.

        Integration entails studying, playing, singing, listening — all of which are open to people of all colors, at Oberlin, at Juilliard, and indeed at every music school, opera house and concert hall.

        You would not call it “segregation” to distinguish civil engineering from electronic engineering, so why pressure a specialized college to embrace a different specialty when it already has more than enough to do running the gamut from Pérotin to Penderecki?

    • Dear Concertgoer, so you think it would have been better to have separate buses altogether, instead of a front section and a back section?

    • What about the Faculty of the Perpetually Aggrieved? That sounds like a ripper idea with the potential for so many millions of ‘students’. And it need not be limited to race – there’s gender, sexual identity, handicap, economic disadvantage. A smorgasbord of choice for the grievances you hold.

  • I assume these college music departments teach more than classical music? Because, otherwise — and I know this is dangerous — the preponderance of the (western) classical music canon IS dominated by white composers. Certainly the music of calibre — and there is doubtless a lot more than we know about — by black composers should also be taught. But facts remain facts. If they are in the business of teaching western classical music, the majority of pieces taught are going to be by whites.

    I am noddingly familiar with some Indian classical music, and some Chinese. These are specialities that I imagine few western universities teach, and I don’t imagine BLM would thank anyone for recognising them.

    All I am suggesting is that not every place does every thing. I am not sure what is being suggested by “an African-American music department,” nor that “Black music” be included in every audition. I would like to see some definitions.

    Increasing minority staffing is something every industry should have been looking at for decades, as is increasing efforts to stamp out REAL racism in these as in other environments. No harm in a colloquium, outreach, etc. But when it comes to actual curriculum, please make sense. If there is enough black (I decline to capitalise the word if white is not to be capitalised — I’m an equal-opportunity capitaliser) classical music to form an entire department, then by all means such departments should be introduced where there is sufficient student interest to populate and staff it. (At other universities, when there is insufficient enrolment, classes get cancelled and staff are laid-off).

    The way to begin might be with some courses rather than a whole department. If there is sufficient interest, it will be expanded, believe me.

    If they are talking about jazz and other predominantly black music forms, such as blues, R&B and rap, then say so. The fact that there is an outcry directed at this subject suggests interest. Define it.

    • Actually, these schools and many others have been ruined by the mass introduction of world music in the last few decades. African drum circles are among the most-popular “classes.” Even Manhattan School of Music stooped to establishing a jazz department. It’s a horrifying decline in standards. Oberlin is the finest college conservatory in the nation, or was.

    • Personally I don’t feel comfortable for non-white musicians performing western classical music because this is a straight example of cultural appropriation.

      We can ALL play the games established by the Left.

      • Your comment just shows you have no clue what cultural appropriation even is. Just fed talking points and fake news tidbits from Fox News, Breitbart and Tucker Carlson. How very depressing but reflective of how Americans consume cable news.

  • ==non-Black

    Why the capital ‘B’ ?
    It’s such a tedious letter they’ve written. Yawn…next

    • Same reason why “Irish” and “Italian” and “German” are capitalized. At least you get to know where your roots are. So, yes, we will be capitalizing the B in Black. We are Black.

      • But can you be something OTHER THAN being black? That’s the key.

        People are ridiculing this and fed up; I urge you to stop for the sake of your own self-respect.

        • Having self-respect implies one to have a self in the first place, which sadly is no longer true. It’s the great paradox of our contemporary, individualistic societies: everyone thinks they are their own person, when most are merely parroting unexamined clichés and hackneyed memes. Embarking on popularity contests based on grievances and victimhood is really the coolest thing these days, perhaps because it gives one the impression to exist somehow and be likeable, in a Facebook kind of way. But to have a self, you first and foremost need to be in touch with reality, as opposed to clinging to juvenile, childish delusion. Usually, this also implies a capacity for solitude — another casualty of our current state of affairs and the necessary precondition for any truly independent and critical thought.

    • That’s new thanks to the Associated Press. Their guidelines are the “law” that professional journalists are supposed to follow. In the last few months they declared that Black must be capitalized to recognize them as a special class. So now it’s Asians, Blacks, Native Americans, Latinx, and whites.

  • “The writers of this letter, being a group of white and non-Black people of color…”

    So one group of white people are telling another group of white people how the latter should treat black people? You couldn’t make this stuff up!

    • Either no black student signed up to the letter, or there are no black students at Oberlin.

      So, a bunch of white suburban kids want to learn how to rap and become the next Eminem. What the hell are you doing at Oberlin studying the oboe?

    • “People of color”? I’d like that to read “people of talent”. Or ‘people of integrity’. Or ‘people of courage’. You choose. Like those children’s books that had ‘make your own endings’.

  • What is Black music?

    Did Florence Price compose Black music? Did Dvorak? Gershwin?

    Is music from Africa Black music? From North Africa? Or just sub-saharan Africa?

    Is Beyoncé’s Black Is King, protested by Africans for stereotyping Africa, Black music?

    Does Black Music Matter or do All Musics Matter? Should conservatory students be required to master as least one instrument from each of Africa, Asia, Australia, Antarctica?

    (On a personal note, frankly I don’t think one is an accomplished clarinetist unless one can play klezmer music like Martin Frost or jazz music like Benny Goodman, while being able to play the Mozart clarinet concerto, so yes, jazz and klezmer, integral part of the clarinet repertory, ought to be on the audition list for classical music conservatory students. Makes no sense? That’s my personal taste.)

    • Interesting point. It made me think about William Grant Still’s Romance for Alto Saxophone and Piano, written in 1954 for Sigurd Rascher. It’s a pleasant piece, but I’m not sure there’s anything “Black” about it other than the fact that the composer was Black.

    • How on earth is it “bullying” to write a letter to faculty management? In the 60s students rioted in the streets; in the 70s and 80s
      they staged sit-ins and rent strikes. These students have simply written to management with their demands, many of which seem entirely reasonable to me and worthy of further conversation. Surely the right response is to invite them in to talk it all through?

      • have you seen how “talking it through” looks to this mob? Do you remember Professor Weinstein at Evergreen College? Look that up first.

      • And you have every right to surrender your position to somebody you regard as ‘disadvantaged’. I’m allowing it. Why not provide an example to others?

  • To the overprivileged liberal white student mob populating conservatories: You know what’s hilarious? The fact that this Oberlin letter is the very definition of racist. You all need to take a lesson from the Jews of this country that faced just as much discrimination and still do. Jews were all but absent from the student body of Ivy League universities. 40 years ago Jews weren’t allowed in country clubs throughout this country. Clauses were inserted into deeds preventing homeowners to sell to Jews. No one marches for us. No one gives a shit. Yet somehow the Jewish community pushes through and succeeds. And let’s not forget the survivors of the European Holocaust who came to this country after there families and children were MURDERED with NO MONEY and LITTLE TO NO ASSISTANCE. They came to a country that was so unwelcoming the President had turned away a boat of Jewish refugees and sent them back to their death. No one cared. Yet the community of survivors PROSPERED. They SUCCEEDED. They became pillars of their communities. All these big babies need to grow up and stop whining. Most of all, they need to take responsibility for their own failures and stop blaming white people.

    • But rather than that, they copy us by demanding reparations, ignoring the fact that it is a complete insult to us.

      • And how would that even work??? If they want reparations then I want reparations from Egypt for the pyramids.

    • This is exactly what I’ve been saying for ages. And nobody is allowed to discuss it because it’s axiomatic. There they are; dumped into an infertile strip in the Middle East, out of everybody’s field of vision, and making a meal of it – much to the chagrin and hatred of those surrounding them who still want them dead (just like Robert de Niro’s Al Capone in “The Untouchables”).

      Not to mention all the other disadvantaged races/immigrants/refugees who fled to the US (Ellis Island) at the end of the 19th century and who made good.

      • The founding myths of both the USA and Israel maintain that the land was “empty” when their settlers arrived. Both are in essence colonial enterprises.

        • Well one could argue all day about who occupied the land when the settlers arrived and Israel was founded. One thing is for sure, they weren’t the original occupiers, so the ‘colonial enterprise’ thing goes back quite a long way, doesn’t it?

          ‘Founding myths’ might be simplistic or just plain inaccurate, but many of their criticisms fall into exactly the same trap.

  • Well,
    Oberlin is ground zero for this sortta stuff.

    A demand for “Lets not play Beethoven anymore, or Bach” is only one step away.

    Fortunately, I think that this “woke stuff” has recently passed its zenith with a NYT op-ed coming out against it.

    • “Fortunately, I think that this ‘woke stuff’ has recently passed its zenith with a NYT op-ed coming out against it.”

      Yeah, that’ll change everything.

      lol

  • There are plenty of schools with African-American music studies. Let Oberlin do what it does best: teach music with origins in Europe. Go to Berklee or another school that specializes in World Music if that’s what you want. Crybabies.

    • I found that the harder I worked and the more sacrifices I made for my family the more ‘privileged’ I got. Of course, that meant a 7 day week for over 20 years but, hey….

  • Why, dear students? Because you’ve already mastered “white” music — won an audition, got a job — so now there’s nothing else left to study but “black” music?

    No definition of “black” music can exclude jazz. So if you think for one second you can just pick up jazz and improvisation (because obviously, you’ve already mastered Baroque improvisation), your arrogance is exceeded only by your ignorance.

    • So much music from the 1920s onward, much of it written by white people, owes a great deal to the jazz idiom. Gershwin, Milhaud, Ravel, Stravinsky, Weill, and Bernstein just for a start. Some would argue that going back to the source is a good way to learn how to play it, and we’ve all heard what happens when people just “play the ink” in music like that. It’s dull, lifeless, and unidiomatic.

    • Jazz is no more black than ragtime or swing or blues or gospel. That may sound like a joke, but it’s not; all of those were practiced and created by white and other musicians, and much of jazz was influenced by French music.

  • As long as identity politics rule the day racism will flourish. Only when we stop using adjectives to describe each other will we get past these issues. Want to be woke? Then wake up and realize that life is what you make it. It isn’t always fair and there isn’t always some racial or demographic reason for the unfairness. Make your own opportunities, stop blaming others for your situation, and grow the hell up. Nobody can control the circumstances into which they are born. Being a victim is a very unbecoming career (though sadly there are those who have profited greatly from it). I am sick of being told I am inherently racist and should apologize to the world because I was born White.

  • So, following on from that list of “demands”, I guess we can expect to see this on the curriculam soon-https://americanhistory.si.ed. u/collections/search/object/nmah_663819. Gets coat.

  • The comments on here are really something else. Be honest, now – how many of you hand-wringers are simply upset that you can’t use the “n” word in public anymore without being called on it?

  • Music is music. Most musicians know what labels end up doing to music. Some say there is good and bad music. I have never purposely set out to find and perform ‘white’ music and I don’t intend to start hunting down ‘black’ music. These demands seem to come from those with a purely one-issue agenda. Revolutions are not brought about in this way. This is all as subtle as the guillotine.

    • And the agenda has bugger-all to do with music. Hence my “demand” above that the demanders provide specifics of what they want. Define a Department of African-American classical music — name sufficient composers and pieces to fill a four-year degree course, project enrolment levels, say what musical standards applicants just demonstrate to be admitted, let alone graduated, tell us how much of the curriculum would be theory-based and hoe much performance, explain where the faculty would be found, let us know whether white students and faculty would be permitted.

      And if it’s non-classical music, go elsewhere.

      I can easily see room for courses in the history of African-American music — they would probably be hugely subscribed. I would very much enjoy such a course, or courses — it could hardly be covered in one. And I am sure so would MANY other whites. But presumably, they would have to get to the back of the queue when it came to admitting them to the classes…

  • “The writers of this letter, being a group of white and non-Black people of color, feel responsible to do
    our part in dismantling these racist systems. As a coalition of Blair School of Music students
    and alumni with a deep appreciation for the quality education and intellectual rigor our
    school provides…….”

    Bizarre contradiction in these 2 sentences: dismantling the white supremacy music teaching versus quality education and intellectual rigor. And a ridiculous description of cappucino coloured people.

    Even more bizarre is the confusion of music teaching with racism:

    “Throughout their history, music institutions such as schools and ensembles have benefitted from and perpetuated systems of white supremacy while constructing rhetorical frameworks that rationalize prejudice. These same systems permeate our inherently racist society and manifest in the recent police murders of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, and thousands of Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color.”

    Music teaching beased upon European classical music is entirely colourless and accessible for any person of any colour, and has never been a factor in killing black people. Racist prejudice is something exercised by individuals, and if they happen to be a music teacher, bad enough, but that has nothing to do with teaching music. It seems impossible to help these people understand where it is all about, because any attempt to dismantle such incredible bigot prejudice as exposed in these absurdist quotes, will be considered ‘constructing of a rhetorical framework that rationalises prejudice’.

    Talking about intellectual rigor.

    It is a serious form of psychopathology that seems incurable, and which threatens the very teaching which is supposed to become more accessible for people who are supposed to suffer from white supremacy.

    • Why don’t they simply inscribe, in Latin if you please, above all the entrance doors of those hallowed institutions: YOU HAVE IT; I WANT IT.

      Like Neil Simon’s “Prisoner of Second Avenue”…
      “what do you mean we were robbed?”….

      “it was ours; now it’s theirs….we had it; they want it”.

  • Gee, I was going to audition there to study harpsichord and specialize in baroque music. Too bad I don’t have any repertoire prepared by black composers.

  • This site’s commenters never fail to provide the most predictable, snobbish, hostile replies that lack even a modicum of human decency.
    Perhaps thankfully, COVID-19 is likely to sentence to death a startling number of the backward musical institutions you all hold so dear.
    May the next chapter of music performance around the globe not bow to your supremacist ideologies.

    • Yes, the site does seem to attract a certain kind of clientele these days… wonder how many of them are actually just paid trolls.

    • Do you actually feel your own comment to have a “modicum of human decency”? I personally don’t. And as far as those “backward musical institutions” you decry, they also happen to be the very places where some of the best musicians in the world actually learned their craft. Trust me, the post COVID world will not forget Bach or Beethoven — indeed, it may well rediscover their special significance.

    • “This site’s commenters never fail to provide the most predictable, snobbish, hostile replies that lack even a modicum of human decency …”

      You included, evidently.

    • You have belled the cat on the real sentiments of the Left. Thank you.

      You don’t seem to understand that the Left is largely on the run politically the western world over.

    • You’re right. I’ve read stories of music schools in the 1960s and before that would prohibit (or attempt to prohibit) their students from performing jazz or any type of popular music. Those days are long gone.

  • This article, along with similar articles posted recently, made me wonder how things are done in the Howard University Department of Music. Howard, an excellent university and possibly the best-known
    of the historically black universities, has a student body that’s about 86% African American (Wikipedia). The majority of faculty members are also African American.

    It would be quite a stretch to call Howard a racist institution, so I had a look at course offerings in the Department of Music. Since the university has strong Black roots, there is a greater focus on African American music than one might find at other schools. At the same time, it’s a place where a wide variety of other music is taught as well. There are plenty of courses that cover traditional music theory and European music history. The university has several classical ensembles, jazz ensembles, and a contemporary/pop ensemble.

    Activists often paint with a very broad brush. According to the logic of the Blair School activists, the long-established Howard University Department of Music, as a music institution with many ensembles, must also be guilty of benefiting from and perpetuating systems of white supremacy while constructing rhetorical frameworks that rationalize prejudice! Yikes!

    • If that article is true — and it looks pretty well-documented — then Oberlin, or at least those currently running it, ought to call it quits. Can you BELIEVE this from an Oberlin statement?

      “Gibson bakery’s archaic chase-and-detain policy regarding suspected shoplifters was the catalyst for the protests … The guilt or innocence of the students is irrelevant to both the root cause of the protests and this litigation.”

      The students involved admitted their guilt and stated unequivocally that the incident was not racially-motivated — it was shoplifting- and underage-purchase-of-liquour-motivated.

      Oberlin’s actions throughout are seemingly craven and preposterous, and also seemingly prompted by the cravenness we are seeing in many universities: the tyranny of students being kow-towed to due to shrinking enrolments and potential revenue losses. It’s why professors are not permitted to fail students, or even give them marks within a low bell curve representative of what they have achieved on their courses.

      Looks like a Department of African-American Music is only a couple of terms away. Perhaps if Kanye West fails in hid bid to be President of the US, he could be drafted in as Dean.

    • $11 million judgement, $940 million endowment. I don’t think “one more suit like that” is going to endanger them.

      • I assume you stopped reading after the $11 million judgement was mentioned. If you had read a couple more paragraphs, you’d have seen the part on punitive damages. While those are being appealed, I wouldn’t bet on the university’s chances, and they have been ordered to financially prepare to make full payment.

  • Historically, Oberlin accepted and trained black music students prior to the Civil War. For decades, the only two American conservatories that readily accepted and trained black students readily were Oberlin and and the New England Conservatory of Music. BLM who ripped down a statue of Ulysses Grant in San Francisco needs to brush up on their history, because they are literally out of control on so many things historical. Perhaps the most tone deaf place in America for them to make demands is the Conservatory at Oberlin.

    • Yet another link to that time-honored and respected bastion of journalistic integrity, the NY Post. Tell us, opposite that article in the paper, was there a full page photo of a model with fake tits in a bikini, or was it an op-ed about how NYC is now a crack-interested hellscape that would send even Mad Max crying to his mommy?

  • I wonder how much of this is inclusionism and cancel culture.

    Somehow, wanting to be part of an economic system and thus a culture that really doesn’t care about Black Lives, and also making no statement about what this culture does to where most of the Black lives are, and that’s Africa, doesn’t really end up being a statement that Black Lives Matter. It ends up being the opposite.

    Of course it’s incredibly true how police in the US target black people, and are discriminatory, and that Black people have difficulty getting jobs and housing in the US, that their neighborhoods lack proper schooling, that their voting facilities are often targeted to not be sufficient, all of that and more should change; but to meet this with taking the bait of the economic-political system, along with corporate media attention – who maybe just want more volatility to get people reading more of their articles so they can get money for adds from the economic-political system – and make happiness out to be their rewards, you end up being part of that, which is decimating Africa, and covering up what’s going on there…..

    I also notice that the word indigenous is only mentioned once, while Native Americans are more killed by the police than Black people. In fact I basically haven’t heard that fact anywhere, although it’s been true from the beginning of other cultures setting foot in the Americas. That culture is hardly mentioned, and its music not at all. Many people are taking up the banner in Europe regarding Black Lives Matter because it’s politically correct, but I haven’t heard anything regarding the dire state of the gypsies, who also already are a vital part of classical music.

    They mention an African American music department, but make no mention of Africa, or its music, or in mentioning White Supremacy take into account that battling it they might be making deals with and in collusion with those that maintain or neglect the economic exploitation and cultural suppression of Africa itself (where most Black people live), because if they would get the “economic” and “consumer” oriented “rewards” they say they deserve that could very well be coming from such exploitation. Also, educational institutions of Higher learning in the US since the early 80s have in many ways become fronts for investment institutions; giving them more clout because they adhere to a politically correct image that they care about black Lives while not changing the very matrix inherent in their whole standing that teaches, maintains, and promotes the very economic-political system that decimates lives in all developing countries, this isn’t helping Black Lives to matter, nor Indigenous lives.

    And I wonder how much of this I’m not allowed to bring up at all, or be called racist and be dismissed by the cancel culture.

    Overlooking what a whole political system and economy are doing to Africa, and wanting to be part of that (whether you’re Black or not) I really don’t see how that doesn’t end up being racist itself, if not simply exploitative insensitive and neglectful, against Black people, as well as doing the opposite of creating a movement where Black Lives Matter.

    • However, when American Black people in the nineteenth century went to Liberia they ended up economically oppressing the indigenous Blacks.

      Today I was reading about the recently passed French sociologist Albert Menem. As he said, the oppressed, when given the opportunity frequently take on the mentality of the oppressor, both nationally and internationally, mainly, as Nijinsky says, by setting up economic and political systems where they have control.

  • Please, kicking out the students which wrote such a letter! No place for this kind of criminal activity. The “BLM” need to be chased off of campus, out of cities by police and FORCE where necessary! USA can learn from Russia to handle these people!! Fist and boot.

  • Might there not be black students who weren’t interested in “black music”?
    Insisting that people immerse themselves in what others deem their “cultural heritage” is a form of imprisonment. The whole world is everyone’s cultural heritage. The rest is racism.

  • Do Asians and Asian-Americans count as “people of color”? Last time I checked, they are pretty well-represented in most US music conservatories.

    • They do not. In fact, many “real” people of color deeply resent that Asians have done so incredibly well. Like other neglected minorities (eg, the Mormons) they grow up in culture that values tradition, hard work, persistence and family. Too bad that certain other minorities haven’t figured out the formula.

  • Mr. Lebrecht I implore you to delete this story because the comment section does absolutely no favors to this blog or to the classical music community as a whole. It needs all the help and good visibility it can get.

  • Let’s all calm down and listen, with open ears, hearts and minds, to some music (at random) from the African continent:
    Zimbabwe: Stella Chiweshe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyPX-VYe0z0
    Zimbabwe: Duramazwi Mbira Group https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWml5faCCY4
    Mali: Bina Koumaré and Madou Diabaté https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBj_eRBspqo
    Mali: Orchestre Régional de Mopti: Ambodejo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rqPx7I7krk
    We can all try to learn from each other, and become more understanding. Sermon over!

    • We don’t need a sermon Marfisa. This blog encompasses a very wide variety of opinions and a generally polite interchange of views. As for ‘all learning from each other’, we already do. And why should all of us listen with open ears, hearts and minds to something of your choice, which may not be to the taste of some of us? I would not dream of insisting that someone from Mali or Zimbabwe listens to Verdi, Schoenberg or Bach to ‘open his mind’ and there are plenty of classical composers whose music I am not partial to: Salieri, Bax, Johann Strauss and Michael Nyman, for example. That’s a purely personal response, and I don’t need anyone to tell me that I should overcome my prejudice and give them a chance.

      What we should do (and I think most of us do) is to accept that each of us has a different response to music and respect that diversity, however much we disagree with others’ opinions.

      As for ‘let’s all calm down’, why? If this blog consisted of anodyne platitudes, I’d fall asleep and dribble all over my keyboard.

  • I am astounded that this claptrap has spawned 193 responses to date from the erudite contributors to this blog.

  • A few other comments:

    1. As someone mentioned, Oberlin is “ground zero”. Its students are just notorious for their fanaticism about identity politics. As bad as identity politics might be elsewhere Oberlin was known as the most fanatic of the fanatics. This is why I am surprised that the music department does not already meet some of the students’ demands such as requiring ethnic music to be part of the music major, affirmative action in the hiring etc.

    2. It never ceases to amaze me about the hypocrisy of those who talk about “white privilege” yet continue to attend these elite $60000 a year private colleges, as opposed to a state college where they could live out their ideals of equalitarianism and racial and ethnic integration more fully. (Incidentally I include myself here as well) I suppose that neither they nor their parents, as guilty as they may feel, want themselves or their children to lose out on a shot of becoming part of the meritocracy which in the US has a lot to do with the prestige of one’s degree.

    3. Although there may be affirmative action in hiring, as a former caseworker I can tell you that there is no affirmative action in accessing social benefits which in the US and I understand in most of England and Europe, are becoming stingier and stingier and stingier in comparison to the cost of living.

    4. For those who say that other oppressed minorities have made it in the US why can’t Blacks I want to say that since large numbers Blacks were given the opportunity to make it in the professions the economy has changed. There is very little opportunity for someone without a lot of (money) capital in the United States, outside of healthcare and tech, and in some areas of the country and in some healthcare and tech subfields, even this is drying up and will continue to do so post Covid. Furthermore, not everyone is suited for these fields.

    5. I believe that a lot of the BLM protests and probably also protests in other countries such as Europe are mainly a result of people needing to let off steam for being cooped up and a way to deal with their anger and frustration and anxiety about being unemployed.

    The cause for many of the protesters is just an excuse to get out of the apartment. The anger and frustration about the isolation and unemployment related to this plague are also probably the main causes of the large number of comments and intense anger in this thread.

  • Fellow white persons, please calm down. Activist groups only ever get less than what they demand, and BLM isn’t even demanding something like an integrated curriculum. That even a demand for an overtly segregated curriculum can be met with the complaint that it would be too inclusive is a pretty good indicator of how racist the United States really is.

  • Let me widen the scope a little.

    On the one hand, there’s the fully justified outrage felt by any civilised person at the vicious, nay murderous thugs masquerading as police officers in the USA, particularly their treatment of black people. In the case of George Floyd, I don’t know why he was arrested but let’s suppose for now that the arrest was justified. A group of police officers had already apprehended him and had brought him down to the ground. Instead of cuffing him or tasering him if he had shown any resistance, they decided to kill him. The enormity of this act was exacerbated by an incompetent numbskull masquerading as a president, who, far from expressing alarm at this gross abuse of police power, said absolutely nothing; a ‘president’ who is a hero of the Ku Klux Klan and himself a white supremacist and who has exacerbated his country’s inherent violence and racism throughout his presidency. Only after days of violence occasioned by this incident were the officers charged with murder. Again, nothing but meek platitudes from the ‘president’. This single act is merely symbolic of the same kind of abuse meted out daily by the US police – even after the death of Floyd there have been further unjustified killings of black Americans – and I daresay there are also white victims of the same relentless brutality.

    If the mobs on the streets had gone up against the police or torched the White House, I would have understood that, but unfortunately they went further than that, indulging in wanton violence themselves – looting and assaulting people. OK – let’s let that pass too, because there are always gangs of hotheads who cause trouble on otherwise peaceable demonstrations.

    On the other hand, at the very least, BLM has blunted the focus and force of the campaign to bring the police to account. It’s now all about conservatory courses, erasing musicologists and other eminent people from history, slavery, affirmative action, removing Rule, Britannia from the Proms, smashing, daubing or removing statues and intimidating those who don’t ‘take the knee’ when they should. None of this will rein in the US police force from their vicious violence.

    It gets worse. It’s beginning to dawn on people that BLM is a political movement with policies including ending the traditional family unit and ending funding for the police forces. That’s only a part of it – their policies appear to be founded on gaining power rather than righting wrongs and from where I am sitting BLM is beginning to look like a black supremacist movement, just as reprehensible as its odious white counterpart.

    If black people are equal to other races, then they cannot occupy the ‘high ground’ over and above any of them. Accepting this equality means that they must acknowledge, just as much as they want us to acknowledge, the wrongs that some of their own have committed and are commiting to this day. What about the deadly wars (against their own!) in Ethiopia and Sudan? What about the fate of Biafra? What about Idi Amin, whose murderous regime brought his own once affluent country to ruin? What about the situation in Nigeria today, with very young schoolgirls being kidnapped and married off? What about the war in Yemen? Do the victims feel any better just because their oppressors are their own kind?

    It’s an indictment of the USA that the only two candidates for the presidency are a paranoid, illiterate, racist megalomaniac and a bland geriatric with no charisma. Where, in this great nation, are today’s Washingtons, Jeffersons, Lincolns, Roosevelts (both!), Kennedys and Reagans? Still, it seems that at least Biden has made a wise choice of running-mate and I can only hope that I’ll see the day when the State Troopers and men in white coats prise the fake president from the White House and take him off to the funny farm, where he will be detained until the charge sheets have been written up and he’s ready for indictment. Sadly, I don’t think any president will be able to end the gratuitous police violence or the racist nature of the USA – even Obama could not. I fear that these, and the obsession with guns, are endemic to the USA. I’d love to be proved wrong.

    Finally, while we should all be made aware of the appalling practice of slavery, transporting of slaves from Africa was abolished nearly 200 years ago in the UK and slavery was abolished throughout the US more than 150 years ago. While all genocides are painful to the descendants of the victims and should never be forgotten, it’s counter-productive to become obsessed with them. One who is forever looking backwards will find it impossible to move forwards.

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