Week three of our 2023 Community Justice Challenge has officially come to a close! During this week’s lessons, our South Florida community danced to the beat of progress as we educated ourselves on the legacy of musician activists, the cultural appropriation of music, racism in the industry, music’s place in opposing gender stereotypes and the accessibility of music education.
Together, we’ve come to a greater understanding of the challenges of POC industry professionals and the inspiring symbiotic relationship between racial identity and musical expression.
Day 11: Music & the Legacy of POC Creators
We began week three by exploring how POC artists leverage their creativity and talent to create meaningful tracks that make a statement. We also studied the history of our community’s jazz and blues mecca, Overtown, and how it’s helped shape the musical landscape during its heyday. Finally, we touched on how South American youths are reclaiming their indigenous identities through art.
Music & the Legacy of POC Creators Resources:
- Overtown’s Musical Heyday Recalled (Video)
- Alt.Latino Activists: Two Artists Who Mix Messages With Music (Article/Podcast)
- The Sound of Indigenous Resistance in Latin America (Article)
Day 12: Racism in the Music Industry
On day 12, we focused on racism and discrimination in the music industry. Our conversation began with a powerful discussion about the Afro-Latino artist experience and how new efforts in the industry could create a long-overdue and even playing field. We also heard from Darius Rucker, who shared his unique perspective as an African-American country artist.
Racism in the Music Industry Resources:
- Afro-Latino Artists are Speaking Out. Is the Industry Finally Ready to Help Them? (Article)
- Darius Rucker Speaks Candidly About Racism And Country Music (Video)
- 8 Asian Musicians on Racism and Being ‘Othered’ (Article)
- David Bowie Criticizes MTV for Not Playing Videos by Black Artists (Video)
- Ruth Brown on Segregation at Early Rock & Roll Concerts (Video)
Day 13: Cultural Appropriation & Reparations
On Day 13, we addressed another pressing topic: cultural appropriation and reparations in the music industry. We discussed the tendency of cultural practices to be appropriated in the arts and the complex conversations that arose when non-Latina, Catalan artist Rosalia skyrocketed to stardom with her hit song, “Con Altura.” Our participants heard from renowned percussionist and drummer Leon Mobley on the concepts of appreciation versus appropriation of Afro-inspired rhythms. Finally, we explored how musicians like the Bay Area-based Kev Choice use their platforms to call for reparations nationwide.
Cultural Appropriation & Reparations Resources:
- Rosalía and the Blurry Borders of What It Means to Be a Latin Artist
- Leon Mobley Talks About All-White Reggae Bands & Appropriation vs. Appreciation (Video)
- ‘I Ain’t Leaving Without My 40 Acres’: How Musicians Have Called for Reparations (Article)
- The Lasting Influence of Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thorton (Article)
- Denying Black musicians their royalties has a history emerging out of slavery (Article)
- Alice Randall Reads a Summary of LaVerne Baker’s Life (Video)
- How to separate cultural appreciation, appropriation in music (Article)
Day 14: Gender, Sexuality & Power in Music
On day 14 of our discussion, we delved into the relationships of gender, sexuality and power in music. We touched on the impact of the #MeToo movement, particularly with the reevaluation of artistic expression and representation of women in the reggaeton community. Additionally, we looked to the LGBTQ+ community to understand and better appreciate their undeniable industry influence.
Gender, Sexuality & Power in Music Resources:
- Reggaeton in the Age of #MeToo (Article/Podcast)
- How the LGBTQ+ Community Has Impacted The Music Industry (Article)
- How Pop Music Broke the Gender Binary (Article)
- GIRL GROUPS: Their Impact and Influence on Rock & Roll (Article)
- Women in the Music Industry: Gatekeeping and Access (Video)
- Lil Nas X Embraces Black Queer Sexuality — And Becomes An ‘Industry Baby’ (Podcast)
Day 15: Music Education Access & Curriculum
On the final day of Music Week, our South Florida community explored the important role of music in the educational system. We heard from U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, who shared his vision for how music can reconnect students to their learning and its impact on communities nationwide. We also shared in celebration as we recounted Miami Gardens Youth and Music Festival, where more than 400 students embraced and expressed their talents.
Music Education Access & Curriculum Resources:
- Education chief says music can rebuild connections to school (Article)
- Miami Foundation’s Music Access Miami initiative and how it has impacted one South Florida community (Article)
- Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’s Acceptance Speech for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Video)
- Buffy Saint-Marie Discusses How She Approaches Teaching through Music (Video)
- Good News/Bad News While Most Students Have Access to Music Education, Nearly Four Million Students Do Not (Article)
Music is more than just sound. It’s a form of expression and an outlet for creativity. By learning of the disadvantages and unjustness in the industry, we can continue to create a more level playing field for musicians of all backgrounds to let their songs be heard. Join YWCA South Florida in creating a more equitable world by furthering your education and getting involved beyond this week:
- Learn more about Music Access Miami, an initiative from the Miami Foundation, and the local organizations doing great work in Miami-Dade County.
- Attend an event during Hued Song’s month-long celebration of Juneteenth, kicking off May 21, Florida’s Emancipation Day
Week Four Preview: Mental Health
Are you enjoying the challenge so far? Help us spread the word to those in our community and encourage them to register before next week’s conversations begin. Join us next week to discover how psychology has become a tool of marginalization, educate yourself on mental healthcare access, and uncover discrimination’s impact on mental health.