On June 2, 2020, OAKE published a statement regarding the systemic and individualized racism that pervades our society. We failed to center our statement on the Black community and caused harm by not acknowledging the trauma experienced by Black students and teachers as well as their families and communities. This was a significant error for which we sincerely apologize.
Black lives matter. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others who have violently lost their lives matter. The leadership of OAKE commits to work more intentionally to support Black colleagues, students, and communities. We pledge to establish true equity within our organization and the field of music education through growth and change.
OAKE will work to dismantle systemic racism by cultivating humanity in our students and in our communities. To accomplish this work meaningfully, we must first cultivate humanity within ourselves. We humbly affirm our commitment to do better.
The Organization of American Kodály Educators (OAKE) community is dismayed and disheartened by the violent actions that are taking place across the United States. Racism and social inequity have global effects that diminish and devalue our human existence and experience, which is a birthright of all people. As music educators, we recognize that the connection between teachers and their students is one of the most important bonds in a child’s life. With great power comes the great responsibility to engage the students in our classrooms in activities that enliven their shared humanity.
Music permeates every aspect of our lives—celebrations and sorrows—reminding us of the powerful experiences that create our past, present, and future. OAKE’s Vision is the realization of a world where the power of music as a unifying, humanizing, and healing force is an integral part of the lives of the American People. Whether it is a song we hear randomly as we tend to our everyday tasks, a song we deliberately play that reminds us of a significant event, or music that rallies communities around shared experience, music inspires and connects us, bringing us together and bridging all gaps that may exist. Through our work, OAKE educators and the music education community at large aspire to bring empathy for all peoples, understanding and respect of all cultures, and compassion for all humanity.
Ongoing actions and goals of the OAKE community:
- Share existing and create new educational materials for cultural responsiveness and competency of OAKE member teachers, leaders, and presenters.
- Publish a resource page on the OAKE website of vetted song collections that represent multiple cultures and marginalized populations.
- Invite and encourage people of color and culture bearers to serve in OAKE leadership roles, as conference choir directors, and conference session presenters.
OAKE pledges to be present in these times for our members and their students as we work through our country’s grief. We will continue to seek the realization of a world where humanity is more unified through music.
Donna A. Menhart
OAKE President, 2020-2022