The horrific acts of violence committed Tuesday that killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent, are part of a wave of anti-Asian hate crimes on the rise since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic last spring. The immediate coddling of the murderer by white law enforcement further intensifies the pain of the victims’ families and the Asian American community as a whole.
Reinforced by the previous racist white supremacist administration, the law enforcement system, and repeated racist white terrorist activity unchecked online and offline, white supremacy and racism continue wreaking havoc on America, as they have for hundreds of years.
In the history of the United States, there exists no industry or institution that has been spared from the systemic oppression of white supremacy. This publication was founded to push back on the pervasiveness of white supremacy within the industry of classical music.
It can be easily argued that classical music is one of the most racist of all industries in the United States. The insistence of nearly all major classical music organizations in the United States to program the music of dead European white men (above that of women composers, BBIPOC composers, living composers, and non binary and transgender composers) reveals the intent of the homogeneous white, and often male, leadership at the helm of these organizations. The exclusive use of white created methodology, theory, and pedagogy materials, and continued use of questionable and pointedly racist white folk tunes in music education continues to harm the development of young musicians who are BBIPOC.
Only by forcing the alternative: the abolition of white supremacy in classical music, can the contributions and creations of BBIPOC musicians be included in the historical record of musical contributions in the past, present, and future. This publication is based on that continued goal.
As a multiracial person of Asian descent, I have experienced a common occurrence among multiracial people: my ambiguous looking identity allows for me to be a “fly on the wall” in white conversations and other racially homogeneous conversations. Having been a witness to acts of racism committed against myself, my loved ones, and my friends, neighbors, and colleagues, my life experiences inform my anti-racist education and continue to do so.
As the parent of two musicians, I have experienced firsthand the pervasiveness of white supremacist thought in music education and classical music, and witnessed the harm of anti-Asian myths and xenophobia.
The work to dismantle and guard against racism and myths about Asian Americans, and racism against Black, brown, and Indigenous people in classical music is a continued effort.
We must not stop examining the ways in which industries have been shaped by the violence and harm of white supremacy in America. We must continue to acknowledge, name, discuss, examine, and decisively dismantle the forces that harm and oppress the lives and careers of Black, brown, Latinx/a/o, Indigenous, and Asian people.
-Christine S. Escobar
Founder and Editor of Represent Classical