An Open Letter by Nick Dourado

– An Open Letter to the White Music Press –

I am really disappointed with the publication “Score”. Please understand that we live in a racist city and a segregated city and that all the work we do here reflects that reality. I sincerely do not want to be involved with any work that arbitrarily maintains these divisions and I am very hurt that “Score” has excluded the music work done in every music community except your own. It is totally unacceptable. I also can’t take on the emotional labour of making sure that white supremacy is not served in the way that the young music scene operates. I have so much respect for the amount of work you all put into your community, but it is clear from this publication that your community is contributing to the myopic, isolationist, segregated and racist activity that is the hallmark of Halifax. Please look into the work being done by iMove – the Uniacke Centre for Community Development and Centreline Studios. Please look into the strong tradition of hip hop that continues to flower in the African Nova Scotian community. Please shed light on tireless work done by the Mi’kmaq community and all indigenous artists in Halifax. Please expose the rich culture and music of the innumerable diverse communities that have immigrated to this land and share our home.

I ask myself about what visibility is direly needed in this city and see the work of many that is ignored because it does not fit a very slim mould and I am disappointed to see this behaviour continue. It is a profound power to document the music work in a community and journalism that does not address its bias is truly harmful. What is the point? Who is this directed to? Who is the audience?

All artworks reflect the value judgements of their practitioners – All artworks progress under the guise of authority and accountability to that authority. who decides what is hip? who really is the boss? what kinds of values are reflected in the work? what value systems around us are fragile and require support?

I am so consistently disappointed in my peers, the press and this country for maintaining a race segregated music industry. I actually can’t believe that this work needs to be done and I can’t believe that as a POC I am forced to fill this gap. If I didn’t take the risk of challenging this press for its exclusion of artists of color, who would have?

– WHITE ARTISTS/PROMOTERS/INDUSTRY GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER –

I believe you can do better and I am willing to be present to address these problems. Obviously, I am very exposed doing this and want to make clear that trust (in myself and others) is the foundation of this work. But we see now that this season the fashion isn’t for you and i’ve seen how quickly you catch on when you’re the centre of attention – so make this work a priority. If you can’t figure out how to humble yourself to a tradition that isn’t yours and to learn from somebody else – then you actually have to pay me or another person very well to get those resources together.

– For Black People, Indigenous People and People of Color –

I see you, I know you’re seeing this, I feel you and I am here to support you. If you’re reading this and feeling the intensity and need someone to reach out to – please feel free to contact me (nick.dourado@gmail.com). There is a critical and alive community here that needs your voice and has space for you – space where you can be real. Space where we see that our communities experience silenced pain and erasure – the legacy and consuming present reality of colonialism and racism in the world. No space that is courageous enough to support even our experience and words – let alone our struggle and healing.

We see that we are surrounded by a primarily white community that tangentially engages with cultures of the world, specifically the musical traditions of black folks – while casually dismissing people of color from participating. We exist within a culture that stereotypes us as everything except for dignified and artist and authoritative. We see mediocre white artists achieve unparalleled luxury and success, while artists of color continually start from scratch rebuilding on the margins. We know that the inequitable compensation in the music industry mirrors the history of marginalized labour that is the legacy of families of color. We experience the pain of our families, the way in which an absence of representation has become a self fulfilling prophecy – where we struggle to find worth in ourselves and each other.

I see that Marvin Gaye is remembered as a sex act, caricature or entertainer – but never as a potently self aware innovator – fearlessly dedicated to the actualization of truth at great personal expense. I see Duke Ellington, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Bessie Smith – simply nowhere, for us to learn about the work that truly built the record industry. I work very hard to control the narrative around my body, something that is almost impossible and always painful, as a person of color, but I see this work bearing the kind of fruit that will support many voices, and build honest, critical, aware, truly supportive artists who can redesign the architecture not only of our arts – but also our social, personal and political imagination.

LOVE MY QTIBIPOC BABES ! MY POWER IS YOURS AND OURS !

Nick Dourado

One thought on “An Open Letter by Nick Dourado

  1. Hi, this is Erin

    — creator of SCORE and the only person that currently works on it, just clearing that up because Nick’s letter implies there is more than one person behind it but as of right now it is just me —

    The original impetus for this newsletter was to give information on grant deadlines, music festival deadlines, and job opportunities. I want this information to be accessible — if you know someone that might benefit from knowing this info pass it along to them or share it on your facebook page when I post the newsletter. I also enjoy helping people with grants and editing them so if anyone needs help please email me (erin@forwardmusicgroup.com).

    I really want this newsletter to be helpful and I really don’t want it to be oppressive or hurtful, which is why I have accepted Nick’s criticisms of my newsletter, published them and am working to improve on what I have created. If POC or any others find this newsletter hurtful then I would not like to continue writing it. It is meant to be a helpful and succinct tool to find information to opportunities, not something that hurts people. I do not view SCORE as music journalism as there has not been any writing in it prior to Nick’s letter.

    SCORE was not originally intended to be a platform where people talk about issues in the music scene but I am happy for it to go in that direction and a couple of people have been keen on contributing which makes me think that this platform is something people need and desire. Please email me if you’d like to write something for SCORE, give me feedback or if SCORE is something that you find hurtful and you would like me to take it down (erin@forwardmusicgroup.com).

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