Yesterday, I was able to hear the first part of Adia Victoria’s panel on the blues. It was her, Joshua Asanti, Ann Powers, Caroline Randall-Williams, Langston Wilkins, and Jamey Hatley all talking about the power of music and specifically the blues and what it means to have this art form made by black people now being pretty exclusively the domain of white people.
Randall-Williams said a lot of smart stuff, but I felt a little indicted by her comments about how much well-meaning white people like to preserve and curate and protect artifacts. She didn’t, I don’t think, mean it as an indictment, just an observation. But it felt true in a way that embarrassed me.
Mostly, I loved sitting in a room listening to people be so smart about art. And I spent my evening just listening to music and thinking about the things they said.
A thing I worry about, as a white person, though, is can we stop stealing? Can we envision a world, specifically a culture, in which we don’t plunder from others? Where we’re not raised to see that theft as the natural order?
What would it look like to be good people in meaningful ways?
I don’t know.