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New research about whiteness and racism in Early Years music

“If we accept that racism is always operating, the question becomes not “Is racism taking place?” but rather “HOW is racism taking place in this specific context?” How does awareness of that change how we think about our actions and our work?” (DiAngelo, 2019)

Last year we commissioned Dr Susan Young and Nicola Burke, with MERYC-England and the Tri-borough Music Education Hub, to produce a new piece of research looking at inclusion and diversity in the Early Years music workforce. Susan presented initial findings at our annual gathering, Inclusive Practice in Action, and we’re now pleased to share the full report, which is a concise summary of findings and practical recommendations.

The report makes some much needed bold statements about whiteness, ‘niceness’ and racism in Early Years music, and presents clear calls to action. Whilst the report focuses on racial diversity in Early Years settings, the recommendations are applicable and usable more broadly. In particular there are a number of points about developing emotional intelligence in order to create change – these points, listed below, can be adopted by all of us in our day-to-day work and personal lives:

  • Recognise how your own positionality [gender, class, race, sexuality, religion, (dis)ability] informs your views and your relationships to others in the group
  • Act with humility
  • Understand the difference between opinion and informed knowledge
  • Let go of anecdote and look for wider, social patterns
  • Recognise your own defensiveness and use it constructively
  • Accept discomfort as necessary for growth
  • Keep focused on the implications for self (not for others). What does this mean for me? What do I need to do?
  • Identify your learning edge. How can I push this further? How am I applying this in practice?

At Sound Connections, our Deputy Director Jenn used the recommendations to facilitate a team away day discussion around embedding social justice in our organisational culture. The report provided a useful framework for team reflection and critical thinking, and was a brilliant starting point for fostering an environment in which people feel able to talk openly and challenge one another. We hope others find ways to test out the recommendations – let us know how you get on!

Read the full report here.



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Support our work with London's young music makers. Donate Now