Movement Towards Justice
We are charting new territory as a nation that will mutually shape and reveal our character. Towards that end, it is important to not only be reflective during these extraordinary times, but to actively participate in moving our country into a future far better than its past—one that we can all be proud of.
There are many things that can provide distractions that deter us from our commitments and our missions, including the regular sideshow of our presiding government, but we must be more diligent than ever with the critical work that needs to be done in reconstructing our nation—starting with our duty to vote. We are witnessing a vital moment in American history that is galvanizing people of all backgrounds. This generation is leading and not wavering with the message that Black Lives Matter.
The whole of America has the opportunity to chime in with unification to address the heinous injustices that continue to occur at the hands of racism. Unity does not necessitate us to be ethnically or culturally the same, and it can only be gained when we honestly acknowledge and harness the power of our differences.
The ugly history of anti-Black racism can no longer be lied about, denied, or swept under the carpet. While the damages from systemic racism cannot be undone or removed from history, we can more thoroughly educate our future citizens and leaders and join with them to do better. Where we stand today as a nation provides a watershed for us to take both responsibility and action with respect to government, community, and self. Let us examine our relationships with discrimination, implicit bias, inequality, structural racism, oppression, and degrees of privilege, as well as summon our ability and willingness to do the work of true repair. This requires more than initial statements of support, but also the commitment to have Black people in leadership positions where they can have the most impact on systemic change.
In the areas of the arts and education, we must view our platforms as sacred and continually use our voices for transformative justice. We must be vigilant about the change we desire and persist until it’s accomplished. We must commit to a holistic approach, recognizing the connection of all justice movements. There can be no gender justice without racial justice, and without environmental justice—without a planet—the rest is futile.
At the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, we will continue to provide a safe and nurturing space for our students whose identities have them at constant risk of being marginalized or brutalized. We will continue to encourage our students to create the society they want to live in with the understanding that there need not be boundaries between art and activism. We will continue to educate with gender justice and racial justice as guiding principles. We stand proud of this generation that is able to demonstrate what they’ve learned from the labor of multitudes of educators and activists before them.
As we continue to mourn George Floyd and grieve with his family, and with every parent who has lost a child to police violence, and every person that has lost someone to a system that does not value their life, we must bear in mind that there can be no justice—no freedom—until the lives of Black people are as important as the lives of white people. Until then, the land of the free and the home of the brave is still a distant and imagined aspiration.
We have to participate in hard conversations and earnestly engage in solidarity if America is to live up to its full potential. It’s not enough anymore to sympathize or empathize without being antiracist. The movement is now.
Terri Lyne Carrington
Founder and Artistic Director
Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice