Overview of Racial Awareness Event
The event was a powerful overview of some of the lived experience of its members, some of which had been marginalised for a long time. In giving a voice to their members of colour, BAMT have started to listen to difference of experience and are now driven to engender change for the profession.
Davina Wilson led the day, framing the beginning of the day using a TED talk featuring Caprice Hollins. It spoke openly and clearly about opening up race conversations to give space to the pain and difficulties that lie within them. She asked us to acknowledge our defences when thinking about our own complicity in racism whether that is at an unintentional level or being part of a system, which is inherently racist. Some of those defences were witnessed on the day which highlighted the amount of work that we need to do, however, it was extremely positive to finally have started a process which exposes these defences so we can confront them and learn from them together.
The event drew an audience of 217 registrants. This is an unprecedented number of participants for any event ran by BAMT in the past. The online and accessible nature of the event contributed to this but perhaps it is disingenuous to simply credit our new affinity to online meeting platforms for this figure. The online nature also meant that people from all over the world were able to attend including those from China, India and Canada. Key people in positions of power attended which was significant and indicates that the wiliness to learn and engage with this difficult work is present which was encouraging. We all hold the power to make changes within the profession in the UK, however it would be silly to think that there are not some key players within the profession that could push the agenda further, quicker. This is where the work is.
The event proved significant for the panellists too. It was always going to be powerful to take part in an event such as this; not only because it was a difficult subject matter and that the conversation was a long time coming but because for therapists of colour, this completes something in the journey of becoming a therapist. Race is excluded in so many aspects of life to the detriment of their everyday survival yet in therapy, it seems as though it should be the one place where it can be acknowledged for what it is, debated and accepted for the destructive ideologies it encompasses. And yet we have chosen instead to push it aside. This event was important for me and my fellow panellists because for the first time, there was a platform and appetite for it.
One of the panellists, said of her experience, “the racial awareness panel was not just a much needed and overdue space for conversation around race issues and the lived experiences of these within the music therapy profession; on a personal note for me it was also a large gulp of fresh air to be able to share my experiences of race, colonisation, migration and more with a group of people who understand it and never question it. In the time since, we have learned from each other and developed our relationships and it has given me so much hope that this is just the beginning of a supportive and accepting work environment, which we can then extend to the rest of the profession, so others will benefit from it too.”