(TheProudRepublic.com) – In a critique labeling the admission process of certain academic programs as inherently racist, a recent academic paper, “Disrupting Racism in Music Education: Conceptualizing Admissions Processes Through the State and the War Machine,” argues that music education programs in the United States predominantly adhere to a White-normative, Eurocentric model.
Erika Knapp, a music education professor at the University of North Texas, and Whitney Mayo, who teaches music at the University of North Dakota, declined to comment on their paper. They wanted to let their paper stand on its own and did not disclose any future initiatives related to their work.
The professors’ research was published in the journal of the Mayday Group, which focuses on applying critical theory to music education practices. Their paper highlights the admissions process, particularly auditions, as a key area of concern. They argue that many music programs, while outwardly promoting diversity, actually uphold racist structures by tokenizing Black and Brown individuals on their websites and failing to support their acceptance into programs.
According to the authors, Whiteness is given priority in various aspects of the admissions process, from applications to auditions, advising, and retention. The paper is framed within the theoretical concepts of the “State,” the “War Machine,” and the “Soldier-Body,” as described in a 1980 book by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. In this framework, music education programs represent the State; faculty members can either uphold or challenge the State, and prospective students are seen as soldier-bodies utilized by the State to maintain power.
Knapp and Mayo contend that music programs representing the State prioritize Western classical music and White supremacy. This priority excludes non-Western music styles and instruments in favor of maintaining traditional Western Eurocentric norms.
The authors further argue that the admissions process is a mechanism for the State to create a homogenous ideal, excluding students who may wish to enter music programs with non-traditional instruments or vocal styles. They call for faculty members in music education to act as a war machine by engaging in anti-racism and working towards the removal of audition requirements that solely focus on Western, Eurocentric musical knowledge.