Cal Poly to present panel addressing racism and diversity in music institutions

–The Cal Poly Music Department will present a virtual panel discussion titled “Addressing Racism and Diversity in Music Institutions” at 11:10 a.m. on Thursday, April 8.

The presentation is a continuation of one made Nov. 5 with guest panelists Stephanie Shonekan, associate dean of the College of Arts and Science and professor of music at the University of Missouri (MU), and Keith Jackson, dean of the College of Creative Arts at West Virginia University (WVU). Cal Poly Director of Jazz Studies Arthur White will again moderate the discussion.

“Whether obvious, subversive or unintentional — and for a variety of reasons — racism has long been present in music institutions,” White said. “Recent world and national events have not only given pause to the dismissal of discussions related to this issue, but in fact, have proven the necessity for an open and frank discussion about race and diversity in music programs across the country.”

“This panel will discuss the realities of racism and experiences in personal careers. It will address why certain literature and pedagogical methods are more pervasive than others and the potential for affecting change through increasing diversity and inclusion.”

Shonekan earned a doctorate in ethnomusicology and folklore with a minor in African American Studies from Indiana University in 2003. She has taught at Columbia College Chicago, was a faculty member at the MU Black Studies Department and the School of Music, served as chair of the MU Department of Black Studies, and was professor and chair of the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Shonekan’s dual heritage, combining West Africa with the West Indies, gives her a unique perspective on Black culture. She has published articles on Afrobeat, Fela Kuti, and American and Nigerian hip-hop. Her publications explore the nexus where identity, history, culture and music meet. Her books include “The Life of Camilla Williams, African American Classical Singer and Opera Diva,” “Soul, Country, and the USA: Race and Identity in American Music Culture,” “Black Lives Matter and Music,” and “Black Resistance in the Americas.”

Prior to his appointment as dean of the College of Creative Arts at WVU, Jackson was the director of its School of Music. He previously served as director of graduate studies in music. He teaches in the area of applied music with specialties in low brass and jazz.

Jackson, a trombonist, is active in classical and jazz styles as a performer and clinician. In addition to being an in-demand recitalist, he recently joined the Pittsburgh Ballet Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra, and the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra. He has appeared on several recordings and on public television in jazz, classical and commercial settings. In recent years, he has given performances and clinics in Asia, Europe, and South America.

Before coming to WVU in 1995, Jackson was an assistant professor of music at the University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill. He also taught at St Augustine’s College and at the Governor’s School of North Carolina.

Jackson serves the community as a member of the Board of the West Virginia Wine and Jazz Festival, the West Virginia Public Theatre, the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the Friends Board for West Virginia Public Broadcasting, and as president of the West Virginia Music Educators Association.

Information on White, who began serving as Cal Poly’s director of jazz studies in 2019, is available here.

The panel discussion is free and open to the public. Access to the virtual presentation will be available on the music department calendar website.

This panel is free and open to the public. To view the Zoom link to join, click here.



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