Dear Members of El Sistema USA and the El Sistema-inspired community,
We mourn with the many families across America who have suffered incredible losses due to over-policing, racial profiling, and systemic oppression. While the most recent death of George Floyd is the focal point of the current news cycle, it is a system of institutionalized oppression and repressive policing tactics that impact many of our member organizations and families. We recognize and grieve these circumstances, and are committed to working to change them.
The core values of El Sistema USA include the important value of community, of encouraging collaboration and community building at all levels of our organization. To that end, we encourage our Members to continue acting in solidarity with the communities you serve and to keep listening to them. Hold space in your classrooms to listen to the feelings and questions your students are struggling with as they learn about the protests across the country and why they are happening. Continue your practice of inviting family members to “family meetings” to provide spaces where parents and youth can share concerns and their ideas for how your program can be supportive during the coronavirus pandemic and in response to the protests across the country. Ask if you can join your families in the spaces where they gather with their community, whether it is a house of worship, a neighborhood meeting, or another setting, to show solidarity and support.
Here are some helpful resources and articles on having conversations about recent events in your classrooms and with your communities:
- Chalkbeat: Educators Tackle Tough Conversations about Race and Violence This Time Virtually
- USA Today: George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor: What do we tell our children?
- Teaching Tolerance: Know How to Talk About Race
El Sistema USA’s Equity Centered Pedagogy Virtual Working Group is collecting and sharing resources, please submit yours to email@example.com. As part of our series please join us on June 11 at 1 pm ET to discuss the importance of Representation and Repertoire with special guests Aisha Moody of the Atlanta Music Project and Armand Castellano of Quniteto Latino.
Please stay tuned for updates about a forum for discussion and call-to-action for local and regional support of our communities in response to the protests.
We are inspired again by the call to action from Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu in his 2009 TED Prize speech:
(El Sistema is) “No longer putting society at the service of art, and much less at the services of monopolies of the elite, but instead art at the service of society, at the service of the weakest, at the service of the children, at the service of the sick, at the service of the vulnerable, and at the service of all those who cry for vindication through the spirit of their human condition and the raising up of their dignity.”