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Why love and light is not enough in the face of racism

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, a bright light has been shone on the ugly systemic and structural racism that shapes our society. And the idea that we can bypass these topics if we all just send each other love and light, is being exploded out of the water.

I remember in my quest for personal development learning the maxim “What you put your attention on grows”, and sometimes interpreting this as - don’t address racism head on - you might make it worse. But that isn't good enough. Because we are a living, breathing part of a system that was built to oppress. And we haven't properly acknowledged and understood that, let alone dismantled and rebuilt it. This is a very clear case of "if we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem." And if we can't see the problem, we are certainly part of it. The message from many members of our black community is clear. Until we educate ourselves on what white privilege looks like and how it impacts our lives, we can't consciously be part of dismantling a system that gives privilege according to skin colour. We need to dig deep. Urgently.

Bringing together people of diverse backgrounds was one of my visions for B’Opera. Three years ago in the wake of terrorist attacks and a political swing to the right, we started seeing increased polarisation, Islamophobia, and racism. All of these things are directly contrary to every value I would fight for. Opera and music is for everyone. Babies do not deserve to be excluded on the basis of their age, parents/carers do not deserve to be excluded on the basis of having children, and nobody deserves to be excluded - in any way, shape or form - on the basis of colour or origin. I believe that NOT making music for little ones of all backgrounds is tantamount to excluding them. Our B’Opera community defies the stereotypes that often surround opera and music making. I am so deeply grateful for that and work ceaselessly to encourage it. Countless attendees have commented over the years on how welcoming and inclusive they have found B’Opera. That is what we exist for. To bring you together around a shared love of music, and hold you in a safe space where you are all loved and valued. 

Personally, and at B'Opera, we continue to educate ourselves about white privilege, and the decolonisation of, well, everything - including song repertoire. I am listening with an open heart to any of you who would like to get in touch. 

Keep singing.

Zoe x

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