Celebrating Black History Month at the ISM
The ISM is celebrating Black History Month because the challenges of the past can teach us about the struggles of the present. As an organisation, we recognise that the history, experiences, and contributions of Black people are too often under-appreciated, and this event is an opportunity for us to ensure that they are not forgotten. This is particularly true of the proud contribution of Black people in every area of music throughout history. We all have a responsibility to learn more, challenge stereotypes, and celebrate stories of achievement.
Sadly, this campaign is needed now more than ever. We live in a society that is still learning how to confront the persistence of racial discrimination and unconscious bias, so this month is an opportunity to make the history of Black people in music more accessible to wider society. This is not just a month for celebrating excellence or romanticising heroes, but also for highlighting stories that are typically overlooked. Or as Joseph Harker wrote earlier this year:
‘This is not about creating a separate history; it is about adding to the history we are already familiar with.’
I am proud to invite you all to use our resources and contribute to the conversation amongst our members. We are going to explore a range of themes, including the important lesson that change is more commonly achieved by communities than individuals. We hope these activities are more than just a celebration of Black British musicians and can become an exploration into what it means to be a British musician today. Black musicians have made such an extraordinary contribution to our industry, impacting every element of our community so the story of how British music reached its current form is a lesson for us all.
At the ISM, we believe that Britain’s societal divides can be partly reconciled through the discovery of our rich, shared cultural heritage. Furthermore, as we continue our fight for music in the face of enormous challenges like Brexit, coronavirus, and education policy, our arguments can be strengthened by a greater understanding of the transformational power of music. Our discussions around what it means to be a Black musician in the UK will remind us that racism and ignorance are not an extinct evil from long ago, but a present danger that must be challenged wherever it is found, including in the music industry.
Please do join us for this exciting month and I hope you find it as meaningful as I know I will.
Chief Executive, ISM