Updated: Aug 21, 2020
2020 is the perfect storm. A pandemic, and thus job loss. The largest civil rights movement in history, and thus the fight, the call to action, and the drain. Many of my colleagues have found themselves jobless and desperately wanting to make a change. Being white, I have a choice. I can choose to ignore the problem and let the system function as it has. Or I can do my part. I so passionately believe in the power of love and empathy. I would be a hypocrite to sit idly by. Action is needed, and action is tiring. This is not a plea for your sympathy.
Just bear with me for a moment.
The past several months, I lay awake at night questioning if I need to find a new career. Something where I can have work without having to wait for the final phase with a vaccine. Who knows how long that wait will be? Can I make it work until that happens? How on Earth can I stay intrinsically motivated on horn for that long? What's my worth if I'm not working? Ya know, seemingly calling it all into question.
For the first time in my almost 26 years, I call my whiteness into question.
For the first time in my almost 26 years, I genuinely call my whiteness into question.
The amount of privilege rooted in that statement disgusts me. And I hope it disgusts you too.
…and it comes with an onslaught of guilt. I'm a product of our perfectly functioning system. A system that was intended to function exactly the way it is. How can we claim to believe in love and allow a system to continue to keep the chains on the oppressed?
You better believe I am acting. I am absolutely pushing for change within the organizations for which I work. You better believe I am doing my best to educate myself. But I don't want a pat on the back. I want something else.
Well, two things , really.
I want you to be apart of this fight.
I want you to remember your mental health.
Life is especially messy and incredibly heavy right now. 2020 is the perfect storm.
I firmly believe that our mental health is more important now than it has ever been before. Check on your friends who are really in the fight and have been living this fight since the birth of our country. Check in with those trying to help. And please check in with yourself.
I would argue it's difficult to lead with love when our minds are a mess. Our fight will pack a much bigger punch when we are well, and your mental health plays an enormous role in your wellbeing.
Not everything that is right is easy, so here is what I offer.
Find your balance in your fight.
It's okay to take a break from social media.
It's okay to take a break from calling your representatives.
It's okay to miss a protest because it's okay to not be okay.
I wrote this over two months ago. Almost nothing has changed. I can't help but ask myself why that is. What are we doing that isn't working? What are we not doing that could be working? We need the conversations to be happening, but more importantly, we need organized action. Start where you have control. Start where you have a foot in the door. If you are working, contact those in charge and press them on what changes have been made within your institution to address systemic racism.
I want to live in a world that is genuine. If we say all are welcome to the table, I really mean every single walk of life. I mean it with all of my heart, especially here at Classical Musicians' Roundtable.
Everyone has mental health. Everyone deserves the opportunities to improve, progress, struggle, be vulnerable, and be human.