There's something you need to understand. As soon as England reached the final of the Euro 2020 by beating Denmark on the 7th July, there was fear amongst many of us.
What if England lose and a Black player misses a penalty in the final? What if it's the decisive one? What if Sterling misses a couple of chances in the game?
Unfortunately, our fears were confirmed when Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and finally Bukayo Saka missed the penalties which handed Italy the Henri Delaunay Trophy. Minutes later as many of you are aware, there was horrific racist abuse directed towards these three young men. Saka (19) has since deleted his Instagram account after various racial slurs and emojis were sent to him.
There are parents of Black children this morning, terrified of what their boys may be subjected to over the coming days and months.
I guarantee many black boys will be hesitant to take penalties in their school playgrounds, for fear of their peers shouting the names of Rashford, Sancho or Saka in a bid to 'put them off'. I guarantee many black boys will be hesitant to ever wear an England shirt again. I guarantee many black boys will be hesitant to wear a shirt with Rashford, Sancho or Saka on the back ever again. I guarantee many Black boys in the future will opt to play for Ghana, Trinidad, Nigeria, Barbados, and other countries rather than play for England.
When I asked if we are failing Black boys last year, it came from a place of wanting Black boys to feel more included in music education. This time it comes from a place of wanting Black boys to feel as though they can be free. Free to trailblaze, innovate, create, inspire and make mistakes in equal measure, without the fear of being excluded and abused for the colour of their skin.
It's a thin line between paper and hate, friends and snakes - NaS (Hate me now, 1999)
There were a total of 7 days in between this picture of Saka on a unicorn was widely celebrated, and death threats sent directly to his phone. 7 days.
This is what we experience all the time. The diametrically opposed views and emotions that see Marcus Rashford being hailed as a future Prime Minister by some in one month, to hated and abused the next... all for not putting a football into a net. Many of us grow up knowing that our best will never quite be good enough to be accepted as equals in this society.
It's difficult right now to write positive words to help spur any educators who may read this into action. It hurts to have seen and heard some of the opposition to things I've written and said especially in the last year, knowing that other Black educators feel as though we will always be fighting to be seen, heard and ultimately understood.
Even though many children will be leaving for summer holidays this week, do not pretend that this hasn't happened. Many Black boys will be confused, angry, or scared, and the abuse they may see online and experience personally may live with them for the rest of their lives. Be there for them. Let them know that their school supports and loves them for who they are, for where they have come from, and for where they want to be. If you can do that through music then do it without hesitation. Don't worry about making sure they are using crescendos or not quantizing properly right now.
Music is more than that.
Education should be about more than that.
Love, compassion, and understanding is what we need today.