Statement of Solidarity and Commitment to Antiracism
The Steering Committee of the MayDay Group denounces violence against Black individuals and communities and stands with those who seek justice through political action across the globe. Within this moment of global uprising against white supremacy and police brutality, we affirm that Black Lives Matter. Black communities have long struggled against violence and oppression-an historical continuation of anti-Black plantation logics and colonial genocide. Police violence is a legacy of capitalism; surveillance and the logic of incarceration have become entrenched in schooling; and years of neoliberal policies have widened racialized gaps in access to public education and health globally. This moment of heightened attention toward white-supremacist policing is also set against the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing into further focus racist and colonial systems of oppression that influence processes and relationships.
The state-sponsored murder of George Floyd represents yet another tragedy in a centuries-long history of white-supremacist violence that permeates all sectors of society, including every aspect of the music education profession (e.g., publications, conferences, social media, curricula, pedagogy, hiring practices). Unless and until White music educators are willing to acknowledge their privilege, take responsibility for their past and the impact it has on the present, and commit to creating a future steeped in justice, the list of names to which George Floyd has been added will never end. For too long Black people-along with Indigenous people and People of Color-have been called upon to work against the tide of systems steeped in white privilege. We commit to joining this work, seek to thoughtfully examine the role of white privilege in our history as an organization, and to dismantle the structures that perpetuate this privilege as the MayDay Group moves forward.
The MayDay Group functions as an international think tank of music educators who aim to identify, critique, and change taken-for-granted patterns of professional activity, polemical approaches to method and philosophy, and educational politics and public pressures that threaten critical communication and praxis in music education. Our ongoing debate about these matters has resulted in a two-fold purpose: (1) to apply critical theory and critical thinking to the purposes and practices of music education, and (2) to affirm the central importance of musical participation in human life and, thus, the value of music in the general education of all people. Our work has been guided by two iterations of Action Ideals (1997, 2011), aimed at furthering critical thought in the music education profession. Though these ideals contextualize and frame our work, we recognize they are flawed and uphold structures of white supremacy. Therefore, they require revitalization.
The Steering Committee of the MayDay Group calls upon our membership to join us in taking an active role in anti-racism and anti-oppression work. We recognize a general weakness and lack of urgency in our Action Ideals. We also acknowledge that, as a deliberative consensus group, we are not well-suited to immediately respond in moments of urgency. In this vein, the Steering Committee commits to the following actions for change:
- Review and update our policies, presence, and ability to more rapidly employ social media in critical moments.
- Review and revise all Action Ideals this year (2020-2021) starting with our third ideal because of its relevance to current events and our upcoming Colloquium’s theme.
- Send the revised Action Ideal III for approval this summer to the membership at large.
- Present the remaining revisions at the postponed Colloquium (2021).
- Issue a renewed Call for Proposals for our postponed Colloquium (2021).
- Invite those who have been accepted already to revise their work to address the revised Action Ideal III.
- Review additional proposals and fill or create focused slots that address anti-racism scholarship.
- Extend the anti-racism scholarship that MDG has supported over two decades by developing a special issue of ACT focused on anti-racism.
- Invite scholars to submit anti-racist scholarship to TOPICS.
- Host events through social media on anti-racism with invited guests.
- Offer monetary assistance for Colloquium attendance to those who may encounter difficulty independently accessing funds.
- Explore and accept from membership ideas for other approaches by which we might take on anti-racism and anti-oppression work.
We cannot move forward as a profession until we begin to grapple with our past. Education has been a system of legalized and monetized white supremacy for which generations of Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color have paid an immeasurable price. That cost must be acknowledged, and the privilege that accrued to some at the expense of others must be reckoned with and redressed. We endeavor to listen, learn, and grow both individually and collectively as an organization. Please join us in these efforts.
The MayDay Group Steering Committee