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Black Lives Matter statement from New England Dancing Masters

Black Lives Matter statement from New England Dancing Masters
Peter and Mary Alice Amidon, Mary Cay Brass, Andy Davis

Black lives matter. As music educators we know that the systemic racism found throughout our society also exists in many of our music traditions. We celebrate in our collections the great wealth of African American musical traditions; the culture of community building and the dynamic rhythmic vitality of the music and dance have had a profound influence on all of our work.

The inclusion of the singing game Jump Jim Joe has been a catalyst for deepening our understanding of songs, which, on the surface appear to be harmless, but have complicated, disturbing histories. Jump Jim Joe comes directly from the minstrel song Jump Jim Crow created by white entertainer, Thomas Dartmouth Rice in 1828. Jim Crow was a character of mockery and derision that came to be associated with racist laws and practices that lasted well into the mid 20th century. For this reason we will no longer include this singing game in our future collections.

We are grateful to the teachers and community members who have brought this history to our attention. We pledge to continually educate and re-educate ourselves to be aware, as best we can, of any hurtful implications inherent in repertoire that we promote in our publications.

As Maya Angelou wisely stated, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”

We encourage music educators to visit “Decolonizing the Music Room” for information and inspiration on equitable approaches to teaching music, dance and culture. Please contact New England Dancing Masters with any questions regarding repertoire in our collections.

Read the New England Dancing Masters Black Lives Matter statement.BLM Statement