Racism is a structural problem and our industry is part of this system and its daily reproduction. At the latest since the “Black Lives Matter” movement many people have become aware of this. Unfortunately, even a black square on social media (#blackouttuesday) doesn’t change this fundamentally. For a real change, the mechanisms of racism in the industry must be recognized and counteracted. It is up to each and every individual to educate himself or herself and reflect on his or her own position (here you will find a helpful list of links, resources and organizations). Furthermore, as a network we would like to create a space to find solutions together and learn from each other.
The aim of this nxtB:now on July 8 was to sensitize for the topic “racism in the music industry” and to lay a foundation for future discourses. The event was curated and moderated by Achan Malonda (MALONDA), who first gave an introduction to the topic and explained related basic concepts such as “tokenism”, “intersectionality”, “othering” and “colorism”. Together with the guests Nadia Says (Your Mom’s Agency), Pamela Owusu-Brenyah (AFRO x POP), as well as Sarah Farina and Dr. Kerstin Meissner (both Transmission), racism in the music industry was then examined from various perspectives.
Pamela Owusu-Brenyah gave an insight into her experience as a festival organizer and music consultant for a major label and presented approaches for a diverse music landscape both on and off stage, such as a clause against racism in the employment contract, diversity training and more diverse music promotion. Sarah Farina and Kerstin Meissner sensitized the audience to critically deal with their own position of power and whiteness and to understand music in its political and historical context. Almost all popular music genres have emerged in response to social and political grievances in black communities, and the dance floor has always been an important place for marginalized people. It is therefore important to protect these spaces and develop an awareness of the musical origins and structural white-washing in this music. Nadia Says emphasized the need to think racism intersectionally and presented best practices of a diverse team. In addition, she gave important instructions on how to not only perform diversity, but also how to seriously implement it. She pointed out the importance of language and pointed out the racist meanings of genre names such as “World Music”, “Gypsy-Jazz” and “Urban”. In a subsequent brainstorming session, the participants considered how the Berlin Music Commission and companies in the music industry can do to assume their responsibilities and initiate change processes.
We thank Achan Malonda, Kerstin Meißner, Nadia Says, Sarah Farina and Pamela Owusu-Brenyah for their inspiring input and all participants* for the exchange.
Here you can listen to the introductory keynote by Achan: