Black lives matter.
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Tony McDade. Ahmaud Arbery. Each an individual, but only the most recent among countless men, women, and children of color in this country who have suffered indignities and atrocities over the last 400 years. Left unaddressed, racial injustice will continue. It must stop.
Choral singing is about community. It is based upon the premise and practice of support and breathing, and connecting with the music and each other. It is meant to bring people together to learn, experience, and celebrate the familiar and the new.
Choral Arts is a community of committed and passionate people who individually support or actively advocate to effect change on many issues, from human rights to climate change. Yet, as an organization, even with the best of intentions, we have not fully utilized and activated that same passion to dismantle the systems that fuel racism and inequity.
We condemn the violence and systemic racism that has harmed Black and Brown communities for far too long, and we commit to listening to our Black and Brown brothers and sisters, learning from them, and acting on what we learn. We commit to looking inward, thinking not just about the decisions we make, but how we make them and how our organization must change. We also commit to using our organizational resources to amplify and support Black and Brown artists in their own spaces, while consistently creating safe spaces for them to join us in our shared community of music-making. We pledge to hold ourselves accountable to this process, and it is incumbent upon us to continually share how we are doing so.
As our founder Norman Scribner said, “Nothing surpasses the power of music to knit together our differences, heal our wounds, and inspire our spirits.” But that capacity is not confined to the stage. It wells up from the heart of each singer—to reject hatred and embrace our common humanity.
We know we can do better. We must and we will.
The Choral Arts Society of Washington