Black Music Matters is an advocacy group created to fight for the rights of Black musicians, artists, Arts Educators, and other entertainment professionals. Founded by artist and social justice advocate, Adrian Dunn, the organization held a virtual rally last Thursday to highlight issues and problems facing artists in all genres but particularly black classical musicians and performers.
Founder Adrian Dunn said, “Our rally is called, the year of Juneteenth, because it’s about reclaiming the narrative the black artists, musicians and creatives are the authors of American Culture and Music. It’s about taking our stuff back, freedom and providing access for black children to be trained and educated by black music professionals”. Black Classical musicians and performers have faced a variety of different forms of racism that is often unspoken out of fear of being blacklisted. Dunn believes now this the time to pull back the curtain on the industry’s racism.
The rally featured speakers, Derrell Acon, Prenicia Clifton, Marty Lamar, Mollie Stone, Bernard Holcomb, and Destini Collins. It covered five areas of focus: Music Education, Advocacy for Artists, policy, operations, and the development of the Black Music Matters Artist Covid-19 fund. Particularly of focus was music education and programming with black children. The rally highlighted the need to have black children see themselves reflected in this genre by being exposed to and educated by black musicians and educators.
“We have to protest with our feet and our money,” Dunn said. Many of these companies receive so much money in grants and funding to educate black children but rarely hire black artists to teach them. How are our children treated in some of these all-white spaces? Sometimes they are exposed to overt racism and microaggressions that can affect their self-esteem. We have to know these institutions are making money off the backs of black children while pushing out black companies and artists.
Dunn hopes to connect black audiences and students to black companies, performances, and educators through a new app he is developing for release in September. With the current climate focused on exposing racists systems, social media accounts such as @operaisracist and @orchestraisracist, along with the #Broadwaysisracist, have allowed artists to share their experiences in the industry anonymously. These heartbreaking, angering, and problematic stories of how black artists are treated in the industry were mind-blowing.
With Black Music Matters, Dunn and others hope to create changes in policies, advocate for artists and educators, and create learning opportunities for children that are equitable, inclusive, and accountable.
For more info on Black Music Matters, check out their website at www.adriandunn.com or follow them on social media @BlackMusicMatters.
Contributing Writer, Danielle Sanders, is a Music and Entertainment writer living in Chicago. Find her on social media @blkwidowsweb or www.blkwidowsweb.com.