Call for Courageous, Trusting Conversations
Jazzistry inherently believes that Black Lives and Black History Matter!! We have always worked to demonstrate more inclusive and honest presentations of American history. Jazzistry is a powerful vehicle for opening conversations about racism, slavery, segregation, democratic values and integration. It helps people understand the rewards of our multicultural history and society.
Please read this letter by Jazzistry Board Chair, supported by the entire board. It is a rededication of our work to help heal the racism, prejudice and hatred in our country.:
“These recent racial incidents tap into my memory of past experiences when I was a lot more militant, not violent but outspoken. However, I never lost sight of my goal, which was, and continues to be, to uplift people regardless of their backgrounds. This has required tenacity, understanding, and patience on my part. At times this is a Herculean task. This personal mission has even directed my professional career, leaving the financial comfort of the corporate world to eventually return to education.
“I have purposefully adopted the view of the glass as being half-full. Though it’s times like this that I feel the glass is nearly empty. When I saw the New York Cooper to Cooper and the Minnesota George Floyd incidents occurring on the same day, I am reminded of how far we have yet to go as a nation.
“Yes, I see the looks on the faces of white women in parking lots and elevators, clutching their purses and practicing social distancing as if I am a highly contagious infection. I’m still amused when meeting a white person face to face, given my speech pattern, which I can on demand emulate a more Eurocentric sound, my name which is race and gender-neutral and my credentials, M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. I notice their perplexed expressions on our first meetings.
“I have checked all of the “right boxes.” I even chose to live and raise my children in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Still, I have to remind my highly educated son and daughter to go about their daily routines with an elevated level of caution. While this is strictly my opinion, I feel that the stressors facing people of color are a leading cause of health issues such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
“This brings me to this particular point in time. We are currently facing two pandemics, COVID-19 and Racism! Both are insidious, widespread, and deadly. One is new and one has been around for over 400 years. Since 1992, with the Rodney King incident, we are now seeing these assaults and murders through various forms of media. In the meantime, defenders of this behavior are attempting to dissuade us from what we see. The clock is running out on this behavior amongst those sworn to serve and protect us all. This is not just an African American problem; this is an American and probably a world-wide problem. Let’s flatten this racism pandemic curve. The best way to conquer this disease is to acknowledge its existence and then treat it.
“So, how do we get there?
“First, it starts with realistic self-examination. We all have some amount of racial bias in us. Let’s identify it.
“Second, we must have frank conversations amongst our families, friends, and colleagues, being willing to share what we do and do not understand. This should be done with fidelity.
“Third, we must not tolerate hate and derogatory speech, not just in ourselves, but amongst our family members and friends. They have a constitutional right to free speech, no matter how repugnant. However, we have the right and responsibility to speak out against it, or at the very least refuse to participate in the negative talk.
“Fourth, our organizations (private and public) must lead in authentic efforts to assure diversity, equity, and inclusion within our workforces. Our organizations must reflect their communities, or risk facing these episodes of disruption.
“Finally, we must engage our younger generations in ongoing dialogs, not talking down, but talking with them. Let’s shield them from our past miscues.
“I clearly admit this will not yield instant results. This is like getting over a long addiction. It takes time, repeated efforts, and consistency. There is no shortcut.
“This is but one approach to ultimately reducing the incidences of what we are witnessing worldwide. I speak to you not from a position of weakness, but out of resolve.
“We must do better!
“Again, let’s flatten this racism pandemic curve!
“I invite courageous conversations and actions.
Malverne C. Winborne
Jazzistry Board Chair