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Social Justice in ETM’s Music Rooms

This fall, we have been challenging ourselves to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of our work, from our virtual offices to our virtual classrooms.

As part of this work, we’re partnering with Decolonizing the Music Room, a nonprofit organization lead by educators Brandi Waller-Pace (Founder, Executive Director) and Lorelei Batislaong (Deputy Director), that focuses on asserting and celebrating the experiences and voices of BBIA (Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian) people in music education and challenging the dominance of white Western European and American music, narratives, and practices.

At ETM, we’ve always been committed to making sure that our lessons are relevant to our students by taking their cultures and backgrounds into account when lesson planning. For example, teachers who work with Latino school communities are encouraged to include music by Latino composers and traditional music from Latin countries in their lessons.

This year, however, we’re doubling-down on that effort by making sure that our largest resource–our music library, or repertoireincludes diverse music by artists of every style and background. We know that overwhelmingly students in our partner schools identify as Black and Latino, and we want to make sure that our library represents their experiences.

Inappropriate or racist music is being replaced with music written by and for people who share the cultures, origins, and experiences of our students. 

An example of some new work that ETM teacher Maria Faul has already started to incorporate: “Hijabi,” by American and Muslim rapper Mona Haydon. “One of my students wears a hijab, and some of them have sisters who wear hijabs. They loved it!” said Maria.

As Instructional Supervisor Dr. Kevin Johnson put it, part of this work is to “validate everyone’s music experience,” not just the experiences of white, western musicians.  ETM teacher Maria Faul added, “We need to show our students musicians that look like them. And it’s important to show them people who don’t look like them, too.”