The story of jazz is that of the pursuit of Black liberation, and that liberation can only happen through the dismantling of racism and patriarchy. The music of this country, Jazz, narrates this struggle for justice and Black Liberation throughout the United States and the Global South. By this definition, Jazz is an intrinsically collaborative revolutionary act and discourse. There is currently little respect for this revolutionary orientation in academic jazz programs or spaces, the record industry, media, or arts organizations. In most cases, these programs and institutions act-- negligently, systematically and consistently--to reject, deflect, silence, and hide the revolutionary nature of this art and discourse around race and gender. This working group believes that there is some hope that jazz education, media, and arts institutions can become co-conspiratorial in Black liberation and vehicles of anti-racist anti-sexist revolution and interventionist thinking, not obstacles to such. THIS IS URGENT. There are many things to address, but WE INSIST that to have Love, we must eliminate oppressive power in all of its forms of self interest. We must reconcile with our past to create a new society. The imagination in our community, with a soundtrack of jazz, with all people working to eliminate systematic oppressive power, will create a new radical society of Love.
Jazz can be a vehicle for honest intersectional transformation through anti-racist and anti-sexist accountability. The explicit recognition and acknowledgement of our complicit past will support the construction of an authentic future based in equity. Black women have always been leaders and catalysts at the root of the movements for equity and justice. They have had the added obstacle of a patriarchal system antithetical to their mental, social, spiritual, and economic self determination. In short, Black women have historically and unequivocally been in large part excluded from politics and the arts. Society and jazz have persisted in gendered myths of learning in creative, educational, and business spaces. We see the result. We see a culture that constantly, through silence and actions, seeks preservation and assurances of masculinity. While those same preservationists and patriarchal intentions are liberatory for men, they are problematic and an added obstacle for the liberation of Black women. As Alicia Garza, one of the three women founders of Black Lives Matter stated, "What appealed to me about Black feminism was it asserted we deserve space. If you're not dealing with these issues that we have on our backs all the time, you're not getting free, period, dot.” True social justice and equity must explicitly include Black intersectional feminist creativity and scholarship, and develop new tools and tactics to revolutionize this broken patriarchal ideology. Justice and true peace will only come through dialogue and collaboration with Black women.
Our music connects the United States to the Global South and to the Black radical tradition, in committed and evolving solidarity with social justice and self-determination against White Supremacy and the patriarchy. Jazz can be an integral part of the revolution for Black liberation. Any true history of jazz, study of jazz, and any contemporary discourse around civil rights and intersectionality--unavoidable in jazz studies--absolutely must discuss race, patriarchal oppression, and racism explicitly. Scholars, institutions of education, music programs, media, and booking companies need to address several dimensions of racism, sexism, and dispossession in their policies including: hiring, educational, and business requirements. They must draw on Black intellectual traditions to assess and facilitate the historical, contemporary, and theoretical importance of Black intellectualism in aid of the establishment of a contemporary non- exclusionary, anti-sexist anti-racist community.
This glorious and indignantly confrontational and evolving music and discourse has always been rightfully and inextricably intertwined with the Black Radical movement and struggle for Black, gay, trans, women, indigenous, religious, and immigrant equal rights, whether people know it or not. The story of human societal development is the story of movements by the oppressed and the racist and patriarchal state’s violent stance against those non-exclusive movements. All living storytellers, in the oral and living traditions of jazz, must collaborate and contribute to the TRUE story of its Blackness. We are the conspiracy. We are the protestors. We are the interventionists. We are the co-conspirators. We are the future. WE INSIST.