Friday, 26 July 2019

White males dominating classical music

On Norman Lebrecht's website Slipped Disc, a post appeared about the "2019 Racial Equity and Inclusion Forum, a convening of artists, administrators, and advocates to discuss racially inclusive and equitable opportunities for creative musicians happening September 7, 2019 in Saint Paul, MN." One of the well-intended efforts to fight discrimination which, as is well-known, is rampant in the USA. But focussing on discrimination and its solutions has its own dangers.

These types of efforts to break down discriminatory barriers, may create comparable barriers themselves, because emancipation movements create and feed group think: ‘we’ against ‘them’, which is another form of discrimination. ‘Your privilege is my bad luck’. But life is not so simplistic.

If emancipation is not about fighting for rights but fighting against privilege (of whatever kind), then social progress is no longer defined by acquired freedom, but by an as evenly as possible distribution of suppression. The result is a ‘politics of resentment’ which is a breeding ground for populism and, eventually, fascism, as history clearly shows.

There is nothing wrong with the ‘domination of white males’ in classical music as long as any person aspiring to the profession is welcomed on the basis of his/her own qualities and not ‘minority background’. Unfair barriers are best battled by education on a general level, and not by special group think initiatives. 

In an ideal world, it is not group think which offers chances in life, but the disappearances of unfounded prejudice, in a society where each human individual is treated as an individual human being according to his/her own qualities. But how to get there? The only really effective medium seems to be education on all levels, not only in music education.


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