• Nate Holder

If I were a racist...



If I were a racist,

I'd teach children that talking about music means,

Texture, timbre and tempo.

If you can't use these words,you're not a musician.


If I were a racist,

I'd teach reggae music and Bob Marley,

'Stir It Up', but never 'War'.

I might even mention marijuana.


If I were a racist,

I'd insist that all music was taught from notation,

Removing all the nuances

That paper could ever express.


If I were a racist,

I'd teach 'African' drumming.

Because of course,

Africa is a country.


If I were a racist,

I'd teach that the Great Composers were

Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn and Bach, Not Miles Davis, Florence Price, Alice Coltrane and J Dilla.


If I were a racist,

I'd make sure that Gospel, Blues and Jazz,

Were always taught,

As music created by slaves.


If I were a racist,

I'd call all non-white music

'World Music'

After all, it's them and us.

If I were a racist,

I'd ignore that Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Bach

And the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

Happened at the same time.


If I were a racist,

I'd make sure that violins and pianos

Were seen as more important,

Than Steel pans, tablas and digeridoos.


If I were a racist,

I'd teach 'African' songs,

Without knowing what they mean,

Or where they were really from.

If I were a racist,

I'd standardise everything –

You're either in tune,

Or you're out. Literally.


If I were a racist,

I'd have posters of me on the walls and in the books.

No black or brown faces,

Just my own.


If I were a racist,

I'd make you think including one brown face,

Would be enough.

Diversity. Inclusion.


If I were a racist,

I'd be fine with all white exam boards, And all white teaching staff,

And study all white musicians.


If I were a racist,

I would insist that children learn western music notation,

Forgetting that many civilisations,

Flourished without it for centuries.


If I were a racist,

I'd put up black squares,

And messages about standing together.

Then never invest in anti-racism training for my staff.


If I were a racist,

I wouldn't address outdated policies

Or really let black and brown people

feel safe enough to speak on their experiences.


If I were a racist,

I'd know that,

Even though the notes may be black,

The spaces would remain white.


#DecoloniseMusicEd

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©2020 by Nate Holder