Department of Music

BLACK LIVES MATTER | A Statement from the Faculty of the Department of Music

Over the past week, our colleagues here at Brown and elsewhere have released many powerful solidarity statements in support of Black Lives Matter, denouncing police brutality, white supremacy, and the repeated racist murders of Black men and women.

As individuals, we too stand in ardent solidarity and we say the names and mourn the lives lost too soon: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, DJ Henry, Trayvon Martin, and too many others. We are grateful for the work of Black Lives Matter and are astounded by the vision of the three women who founded this movement, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. But policing also happens within the academy, where white supremacist structures have long endured.

As a faculty that until this year had no full-time, tenure-track Black members, we recognize that we need to speak with the utmost humility in voicing our support for antiracist action. Departments and Schools of Music have long been places of racist and elitist exclusion. There are manifold forms of marginalization at work: in curricula, repertoire, access, and personnel. The tradition of Western art music—central to many departments’ curricula—has too often tokenized or refused to acknowledge the voices of people of color within the tradition. And there has been remarkable resistance to expanding curricula to include more voices and more traditions. We know that acknowledging this is not enough; we must take action. At Brown and elsewhere, there have been sustained efforts on these fronts, but more change is needed.

We realize that the most powerful statement would be one that outlined big, concrete steps for the future. But we also recognize that long-term change requires thoughtful reflection. Anti-racism is an ongoing effort requiring sustained, vigilant action. There are less grand, but just as important steps we can commit to as a department: we will feature the scholarship and performances of underrepresented voices, particularly those who have gone unheard in our classrooms and performance halls. We will especially amplify the voices of Black scholars, thinkers, producers, composers, and performers and seek to strengthen our ties to the broader musical community in Providence. We will prioritize even more our recruiting of students and faculty of color. And we will not exploit the often intensified labor – administrative, advisory, and emotional – of BIPOC faculty, students, and staff. We will strive to make the department and university a welcoming and inclusive place, where Black people’s contributions will be recognized and celebrated.

The Faculty of the Department of Music