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When no one taught me to be racist. But I learned it anyway.

black history black men black opera singers black women crt dei deib internalized racism May 10, 2022

Hello my friends, 

Just a little story about recognizing racism.  

I was just plugging along, working on a social media post to shine light on arenas that Black folks are (and have been) doing great things in. It was some easy, mostly fun work, a creative project moment for me.

Until I slowed down and did a little 'inward looking'.

I grew up in a home where ONLY church music and classical music were approved and/or allowed. And by church music I mean conservative, hymns and spirituals sung with mostly a piano or organ. And NEVER any body movement.

You see me.

And here's where it got really personal and not fun. Like total "white tears," not fun. My research took me down the path of finding music by Black opera singers. 

I love all music. So I start playing them.

Not only do I know every spiritual and hymn, many are versions I recognize. They were played around me. I heard Jessye Norman as a child. But I didn't know  (as Wiki informed me) that she won a competition and had a job with the German Orchestra.  When I listened to the song that was her debut. And I hear this AMAZING SOUND. A sound that I know. A sound that transports me back to my childhood living room, listening to classical music performances over public radio.

What I never knew, what I never imagined, was that ANY of those people singing to me were anything other than white.

Always, until the moment I began researching, with the classical or opera pieces I heard on the radio my mind's eye saw a performer that looked like me. All the people I had SEEN who sound like that were 100% white. 

Racism is often not learned because someone told us to believe something. Racism is often learned by the stories, photos, identities and songs that are omitted.

For your listening pleasure, here is a very short selection of Black opera singers, singing both opera and other things... 

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