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  • benjaminnewman01

Mod. 7 Reflection - Decolonization

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

Please share a quick reflection about what you take from this module as it relates to your continued work to create an inclusive workplace.

 

This module reiterated a central point and through-line carried between each module, of which I've stated in a previous reflection, and that is the importance and power of language. Whether unlearning ableist language, colonizer language, white supremacy language, or any other form of language used to "other" another person or group, this work framed through the lens of inclusive workplaces, is equally, if not more importantly, a call to each one of us to personally look at our own use of language in our personal and professional lives.


I am particularly struck by the video of Dr. Lwazi Lushaba from the Global Solidarity and Local Actions blog. He frames the work of applying decolonization through the lens of architecture and science. In the first case, demonstrating how architecture has been used to separate Black and White people in South Africa, and in the second, how the philosophy of science views itself as separate or immune from the topic of decolonization, and therefore inapplicable within their work. To demonstrate the importance of decolonization in the latter case, he speaks to how within the colonized scientific community, "health" is viewed in isolated categories of medical, social, and cultural. Whereas in this specific Black, South African group's culture, they are all interconnected in a holistic way. Colonization reinforces the separation of health into these distinct categories, rather than acknowledge their intersections, sadly at great cost.


As I think about how to decolonize language, policy, practice and programs in the performing arts, it is imperative that Eurocentrism is acknowledged as the driving cultural force, specifically around programming. One need only to look at the seasons of every ballet, opera, and symphonic organization to see the domination and impact of Eurocentrism. While works by non-white composers and creators are starting to increase in the last few years, most organizations have yet to realize their role in shaping the expectations and tastes of their audiences to only hear the works of Europeans. This is a critical first step towards decolonizing classical music. Drawing from Dr. Lwazi Lushaba's analogy of health as a holistic combination of the cultural, medical, and social, I would be interested to see how cultural organizations might rethink their programmatic offerings through a lens of addressing their audience's cultural, medical and social health. I imagine the impact would profoundly change the organization from top to bottom.


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