BAFA UK Symposium 2022 - LOOK BACK AT OUR PROGRAMME
BLiM – Working For Our Community
May 20, 2021
Charisse Beaumont and Roger Wilson launched Black Lives in Music (BLiM) in March 2021 to address the lack of diversity at all levels and in all areas of the music industry in particular Jazz and Classical music. They are currently working in solidarity with over 40 like-minded groups and organisations to make change happen – together. They recommend effective diversity actions and initiatives that cover areas of recruitment, governance, learning, training and career progression for staff at all levels. They also aim to provide ground-breaking data through two annual, national surveys on the lived experience of people of colour in the music industry and on diversity in organisations.
They recently launched Black Lives in Music survey, which is a ground-breaking exercise and key to understanding the issues of diversity in our industry. Some of the issues addressed in the survey include discrimination, mental health and wellbeing, economics, education to talent pipeline.
The Black Lives in Music Taskforce is comprised of the most esteemed executives in the UK working for diversity and equity in music including BAFA UK founders James Joseph, Cleveland Watkiss MBE and Mykaell Riley. BAFA UK members Paulette Long OBE, Yvette Griffith, Victor Redwood-Sawyerr, Orphy Robinson MBE. The Taskforce includes educators and musicians Jamil Sheriff and Richard Henry. Diversity and Inclusion specialists Amanda Parker and Ben Ryan, as well as renowned Jazz artists Shabaka Hutchings and Xhosa Cole and Founder of Chineke! Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE.
One of the reasons Roger and Charisse started Black Lives in Music was not just their own experience in the music industry but hearing many stories of other Black musicians and music professionals struggling with issues where systemic racism was at the root of the problem.
There are many barriers that Black musicians face in the music industry, especially Black students in music education. One student in particular comes to mind, when they felt as though they were not being taught properly and not given the same treatment as their fellow students. This went on for sometime and despite voicing their concerns the student was consistently gaslighted and ignored. They are now in therapy as this affected their mental health because they felt their treatment was based on their race.
[ On another occasion after watching former X Factor contestant, Misha B’s video on instagram she stated she was left suicidal and suffered from PTSD when she experienced racist treatment on the show. ]
Many top black musicians go for blind auditions for orchestras and ensembles and successfully go through the process however once their face is revealed the position goes to someone else.
This is rife across the industry even in commercial music where the feedback Black musicians receive is “they don’t have the right vibe or look” or they are the subject of micro aggressions such as “I bet you can’t read music”, or “you are Black therefore you’ve haven’t received a formal education, you must have learned how to play in the church or something?” They are excellent Black musicians who have studied just as hard as everyone else. But they are not given the chance because they are Black. After being consistently told you are not good enough or you do not belong, it can affect your confidence and mental health.
Black Lives in Music exists to bring these issues of discrimination to the forefront, confront and eradicate the systemic racism that is in the music industry. We use data to inform, advocate for equality and create opportunities so all musicians can thrive.
The Black Lives in Music film series celebrating Black Music and Culture featuring Broadcaster Zeze Millz, Music Psychologist Natasha Hendry and artists Shabaka Hutchings, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Jake Isaac, Ayanna Witter-Johnson and Xhosa Cole is out now on YouTube and Spotify.
We use data and insights to campaign for equity and we support the empowerment of Black musicians to realise their aspirations. If true equality is going to be achieved, then we must work together.
Musicians and music professionals get involved by completing the survey at blim.org.uk/change
Organisations align with us to help unify the music industry by signing our charter at blim.org.uk/charter