Printer-friendly version

Anne Akiko Meyers apologizes for racially insensitive Facebook post

Laurie Niles

Written by
Published: August 21, 2015 at 5:55 AM [UTC]

Anne Akiko Meyers said she was just trying to pose a question, with her controversial re-post of a story by The Violin Channel about the new black and minority Chineke! Orchestra in Europe.

Meyers' post said: "I wonder if you have to be black to solo with this orchestra? #reversediscrimination"

Anne Akiko Meyers"Quickly, I realized the implications were just so horrible and dreadful that I took down the post almost immediately, about 20 minutes later," Meyers told me this morning, speaking over the phone. "I am extremely sorry. It was a very big mistake and I in no way stand behind that question, in no way," she said.

The post's presence for 20 minutes online was long enough to generate a great deal of controversy -- and for people to get screen grabs. The post has re-appeared on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and continues to generate heated discussion that went all kinds of directions: some accusing her of race-baiting, others lamenting that she took the post down.

Her desire to get rid of the post was so strong that she started blocking people on Twitter and banning people and deleting comments on Facebook that related to it, she admitted. "It just wasn't about music anymore."

Diversity, she said, is something she passionately believes in. "Music embraces everybody and it should not divide. It embraces and it does not discriminate," she said. Personally, "I have been involved with the Teak Fellowship for over a decade. and have actively supported radio stations, orchestras, music festivals, and medical charities around the world."

"I am completely for any group, it does not matter what color you are, what gender, what sexual preference, as long as you are making music. That's what I'm in this world to do. I applaud any orchestra that is forming to bring music to under-represented groups. It should be an open playing field for everyone who has something to say and who passionately believes in playing music."

She said she wishes the Chineke! Orchestra well.

"I think, if anything, it's really made me aware of the critical nature of this issue, and I really am and will be a big advocate for the cause of promoting greater diversity in music. "

* * *

Should Meyers, from now on, stick to posting cartoons and pictures of cats on her social media sites? Should we all?

I think the answer is no, despite the great difficulty and unease that this incident has caused. Just as failure is inevitable in the pursuit of success, misunderstanding is inevitable on the path to true communication. I think we need to keep working toward communication and understanding.

The issue of diversity in classical music is indeed a critical one, worthy of everyone's consideration, whatever color any of us sees when looking in the mirror.

But the issue is more complex than simply opening the doors and stating that everyone with artistic merit is welcome. Though there may be less intentional exclusion of minorities in classical music than there used to be, there remains a serious lack of numbers of minorities in orchestras, in the spotlight, on boards, in music schools and in audiences.

"The issue of the lack of diversity in classical music is a complex one: because of the historical and current barriers and challenges in this area, the topic has the capacity to inspire passionate, at times, poignant conversation," said Afa Sadykhly Dworkin, President of the Sphinx Organization, which runs an annual competition for black and Latino string players, provides year-round education programs, issues grants and commissions and holds national meetings on diversity in the arts.

"The reality of the matter is such that our field continues to struggle with a dramatic lack of representation of blacks and Latinos," she said. "Truly, for our art form to not only survive but thrive, it must be enriched by the voices of and from the communities in which it resides and serves."

Black and minority musical organizations such as Sphinx and Chineke! are not formed to be exclusionary, they are more what I would call "expansionary." They are formed to provide additional opportunity where a lack of it has existed. Many black artists have told me that a major barrier in pursuing their art was a feeling that they didn't belong, for the simple reason, "I didn't see anyone who looked like me."

When it comes to Chineke!, founder Chi-chi Nwanoku told The Guardian that "my aim is to create a space where black musicians can walk on to the stage and know that they belong, in every sense of the word."

Chineke! musicians
Musicians in the Chineke! Orchestra.

Nwanoku also said that America's Sphinx Organization inspired her, with its undeniable success over 20 years in expanding the number of black and Latino musicians who study at top-10 music schools, who teach classical music and who sit in American orchestras.

"We also now see (Sphinx) alumni beginning to think like entrepreneurs, launching their own community-based initiatives to further the notion of inclusion and giving back to the community," Dworkin said. "Before founding the Sphinx, it used to be rare to see an artist of color solo in front of a major orchestra, and now that happens more than 20 times a year, through our partnerships with orchestras. That's certainly making a big difference."

Expanded participation by minority musicians of excellence, wider options for programming, a force to engage a more diverse audience -- these are the kinds of stated aims embraced by groups such as the Sphinx Organization and Competition, the Gateways Music Festival, Soulful Symphony, Symphony of the New World, Harlem Symphony, The Harlem Chamber Players, Symphony Saint Paulia and more.

This kind of expansion is not going to hurt classical music or musicians. On the contrary, I see it leading to more jobs, more audience, more relevance, more voices advocating our art. Let's continue the conversation by engaging those whose experience is different than our own, whether less privileged or more, and by really listening to each other.

Posted on August 21, 2015 at 6:15 AM
I can't help but feel that people were OVERLY sensitive about how they interpret her question/statement. Anne is such a beautiful person and artist.
From Steven Albert
Posted on August 21, 2015 at 11:23 AM
Very interesting topics being raised in this article. Ms. Meyers, being of "mixed parentage", could be considered a minority herself. IMNSHO, there are musicians, and not musicians. The cosmetic attributes of the person behind the instrument should be, and to me is, irrelevant. While I recognize that it exists, I find it very difficult to understand how race, gender, orientation, politics or culture is important, when it should just be all about the music.
From Eileen Geriak
Posted on August 21, 2015 at 11:46 AM was a good question I's the answer ? "DO" you have to be black in order to solo with that orchestra..and if that's the case...why would they be allowed to be so picky and avoid the stigma of being accused of racism ?

I'm with Dr Martin Luther King....I so look forward to the day when everyone is judged "not" by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character..and in this case...their abilities as a musician. A truly color blind society has no need of racial quotas in any area.

Posted on August 21, 2015 at 11:58 AM
I have a youth orchestra in metro Atlanta called Sinfo-Nia (founded in 1990 as the William Grant still Memorial Youth Orchestra). It is designed to give students especially African-American (but all races welcomed) opportunities to become more proficient on their instruments whereas they will consider careers in orchestral music. As a result, some alums are currently playing in professional symphony orchestras, one is an ethnomusicologist at a major university, and several are teaching orchestra in schools. We play a variety of multicultural music: classical, jazz, Negro spirituals, gospel, reggae, ragtime, country, motion picture themes, Top-40: rock, R & B, hip-hop, and so on. We have performed for many black audiences that normally would not have orchestras, string ensembles, and soloists for entertainment.
From Rocky Milankov
Posted on August 21, 2015 at 12:13 PM
Although Ms. Meyers's question had an unfortunate ambiguous form, the Chineke orchestra could now stand a higher ground and invite her to play solo. That would present a friendly answer and also give them more positive publicity.
Sometimes one can ask and answer the question without words, just like true musicians do!
... and there are also all kinds of orchestras, such as LGBT, who openly invite people, not belonging to the community, to come and join.
Yes, the topic is charged, but it always takes 2 for a duet, racial or not.

Posted on August 21, 2015 at 12:40 PM
The question was a simple one, but the twitter pound sign tag thingie about "reversediscrimination" tells you what she was really thinking at that moment.

That's why she is mortified. She knows that looks snarky at best.

From Paul Deck
Posted on August 21, 2015 at 1:39 PM
Yes her comment was colossally insensitive. But, haven't we all made a similar mistake at some point? The trouble with social media is that we tend to put our thoughts down before we're finished thinking. Her remarks just get more attention because she's a public figure in the music world, and because the music world is, for better or for worse, pretty sensitive about discrimination issues.

But, when it happens, you apologize sincerely, and you demonstrate, through your words and especially actions going forward, a firm purpose of amendment. Meyers got the apology right, and I accept it at its face value. Only time will tell about the rest, that's true for all of us.

I don't know whether the hashtag thingy was racist. I find more fault with it for being presumptuous. People who don't want to appear snarky should probably swear off hashtags completely.

I'm writing this while listening to Bud Powell. He makes it really hard to concentrate on anything else. Maybe something like that happened to Anne.

From Larry Wheeler
Posted on August 21, 2015 at 2:19 PM
"Just as failure is inevitable in the pursuit of success, misunderstanding is inevitable on the path to true communication." Perfectly placed thought. No hashtag needed.
Posted on August 21, 2015 at 2:31 PM
Ok, so...this article/situation right here hits home for me in SO MANY WAYS. Bear with me for a sec.

I have no problem with the initial question of Ms. Meyers, it's the (#) that I take issue with.
I feel that there wouldn't be a need for companies like Chineke!, Sphinx, Opera Noire, Opera Ebony, Dance Theater of Harlem etc...if there was FAIR INCLUSION across the board, FROM THE START.

If u r ok with "Opera Company A" doing Porgy and Bess in one season, but the next season when they do Boheme, Traviata, Faust, and Carmen, there's suddenly an absence of singers of color..........or when "Symphony A" only invites us to do their Martin Luther King/Black History program in January or February.........then u should be ok when the aforementioned companies are having performances with ALL artists of color. Artists of color need a place too, they need a stage too, they need support too, they have great talent too, they need to feel included too........So instead of artist's of color walking away from their passion and gifts, they created a place of their own.

Now some may say " Kenny why r u complaining because, I see u working?" Well, yes my career runs the gamut of all rep, it always has, thank God, but there are thousands of folks that look just like me, and that sing just as well, who can't say the same. I'm often the "only one" in the room when it's not Porgy, when it's not Showboat, Amistad or Treemonisha. ...

Ugh, let me calm down while I'm ahead because I still want and need to work! Lol but People should THINK before they speak/tweet/text then take an honest, long indepth look around and then try on the other shoe first and see how it fits.

Call me #CBS, #NBC, #ABC, #PBS, #CNN, #OperaNews, and let's sit down and talk about it in open court.

Have a great day yall, and keep pressing on!

Posted on August 21, 2015 at 3:49 PM
I saw nothing wrong with her question, whatever way she was framing it. When the announcement is made, "first all black orchestra" or whatever, it makes you wonder if it's at the exclusion of anyone who is not black. As a mixed person living in the year 2015, I think it is more powerful to have an all black orchestra and don't say it is - let the obvious speak. Then, you can invite whoever you want to solo or feature without anyone saying, "l thought this was the black orchestra?" Or, "wonder if you have to be black to be a soloist?" When you label it, you may very well be screwing youself.
Posted on August 21, 2015 at 3:55 PM
Just to note that the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project is one of the powerful diversity-embracing orchestras of our time ... in membership and content. Well worth a visit to experience through-composed and improvisational work, conducting and conduction.

If the original post accomplished something, then perhaps it was bringing greater attention to these ensembles.

Dennis Bathory-Kitsz

From Laurie Niles
Posted on August 21, 2015 at 5:32 PM
I wanted to share this picture from David Caines Burnett, of Pinchas Zukerman on tour with the Sphinx Virtuosi, which he posted in response to the question of whether one has to be black to play with an orchestra like Chineke! or Sphinx. I love this picture!


From marjory lange
Posted on August 21, 2015 at 7:45 PM
It's an important question that, no doubt, many were/are asking, and I am glad it was someone like A A M who asked it outright. It's the silences we need to fear.

Recently I was summonsed for jury duty, where one of the panel was afraid to ask if the plaintiff was a citizen or not--in the case, it could have mattered. When the question finally was broached, I could see that the majority of others had wanted to ask, but feared being insensitive or racist. Sometimes it's more important to ask the question than to be blindly 'sensitive.'

From David Burgess
Posted on August 21, 2015 at 7:46 PM
Deleted, because I posted under my own name, and that was probably unwise, given the passion and polarity accompanying issues like these.

What I'll leave though is that I didn't see Anne's comment as being critical of the group or their goals. Being female and multi-racial herself, thought-provoking questions about discrimination like she posed (including the hashtag) are probably ones which have legitimately come up for her. No, I don't know her personally. I'm just someone who doesn't default to the worst possible interpretation of what someone says, when there are options of seeing it differently.

Posted on August 21, 2015 at 8:53 PM
While it wasn't the meanest, most racist comment ever posted--it was ill-informed, ignorant, mean-spirited and completely unnecessary. And she meant it, no question. If she had left it at the inquiry and left out the hashtag, it might have been a reasonable query. She is only sorry about the shrapnel she's picking out of her skin from the negative reaction.

Look at the racial makeup of "mainstream" orchestras worldwide, and you'll soon see the need for performing organizations with a racial/cultural element. Let it go, my non-black friends. You have way more opportunities.

Posted on August 22, 2015 at 1:46 AM

You posted a picture of mr Zucheman playing with the Sphinx. I am sure it is not lost on you that he can solo with the Sphinx but not even play at the back of the section with the Chineke!.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on August 22, 2015 at 1:51 AM
Dear anonymous poster,

I think the best thing to do would be to ask Pinchas Zukerman himself how he feels about the existence of Chineke!

Posted on August 22, 2015 at 1:56 AM
Possibly, but I believe this illustrates the fact that Ms. Meyers question was certainly reasonable.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on August 22, 2015 at 2:14 AM
Perhaps read the story before you post, or maybe at least the first few paragraphs. It was largely the hashtag that people found offensive.
Posted on August 22, 2015 at 9:11 AM
Anne is truly one of the most beautiful and gracious people in the music world, both on the inside and outside. I know she is passionate about bringing music, education and opportunities to underprivileged children and youth. She also is a wonderful role model for young girls and women. I, as a musician and a mom am in great admiration of Anne. If this orchestra invited her to solo with them it would definitely be an amazing and guaranteed success! I hope it happens!

Posted on August 22, 2015 at 1:26 PM
I wish to send a message of thanks for all the support from friends and colleagues in America and worldwide who appreciates the essence of the work of, and the need for, Chineke!. The Sphinx organisation has been the ultimate source of inspiration for me and I continue to applaud their work and be guided by their light. My colleagues and I are content to be judged on the thing that matters most - our music making, and the success of our effort to bring people to great music who might otherwise go through life not experiencing it. I have seen Anne Akiko Meyers’ acknowledgement that her comments were a mistake and respect her for doing so. I remain committed to bringing about a fairer and inclusive environment where children and adults of all ethnicities have equal opportunities to learn, be involved in and share the music we love to the highest levels. We still have much work to do here in Europe, but the time is right and the environment is receptive! Thank you. Chi-chi Nwanoku MBE, Founder, Chineke!.
From Paul Deck
Posted on August 22, 2015 at 2:39 PM
I wish I had two Strads.
From Raphael Klayman
Posted on August 22, 2015 at 4:37 PM
Silly me! I'm always behind the curve of popular technology and social media. I thought that "hashtag" was a way of labeling inexpensive canned meats! ;-)

And more seriously, what's with all these coded ID numbers? I think that we should all have a right to know who's posting and to whom we're talking.


Posted on August 22, 2015 at 5:47 PM
I am totally ignorant about Instagram and hashtags. Would someone please explain to me what the hashtags are used for and why did it make the words that followed so much more offensive? Thank you.
Ilene Karpman
Posted on August 22, 2015 at 5:56 PM
Sometime in the future, perhaps the distant future hopefully sooner rather than later, a comment like the one made will not cause such an uproar. The reason the comment hurts in my personal opinion is because it shows insensitivity to the plight of many artists. Artist who are not having access to earning a living from their craft due to factors beyond just the music. As an artist I am well aware of the very talented tenor who sings in the 59th street subway station just one stop away from Lincoln center, I am well aware of the lack of representation of minority populations in classical music, and I am well aware and proud of organizations that emerge to confront these issues. In a more socially equitable future we could possibly understand the beautiful Violinists' comment as an innocent question about the requisites for performing with groups whom have a mission to provide opportunities for underrepresented populations. Today however, what we understand is that perhaps she is not aware of the writing on the wall. What that writing is saying Ms. Akiko Meyers, is that we love you for throwing yourself into this field of work, we are so very proud of your achievements, and we need your help to blaze the way for others whom like you are unique, beautiful, and talented. Personally, I choose to forgive this comment given that the author has been made aware of the community she belongs to as an artist and the weight of her opinions. In the distant future her comment would be understood as just an innocent question, and I while I hope and pray for a sooner arrival of that future, I also pray that Ms. Akiko Meyers and others realize that we are not their yet! #Not their yet! #Progress is a process! #Please look beyond your individual experience!
Posted on August 22, 2015 at 8:34 PM
All the time I read on that orchestra auditions are behind the screen so the race, color or whatever are of no importance, just your sound is being judged. Or is it otherwise?
From Laurie Niles
Posted on August 22, 2015 at 9:05 PM
I'm glad that you brought up the subject of auditions held behind screens. This has been a step in the right direction for all traditionally underrepresented groups, including very notably, women. This is exactly what I meant when I said that there is less intentional exclusion of minorities in classical music than there used to be. The problem that groups like Sphinx and Chineke! are aiming to help resolve (and anyone from those groups is more qualified to speak about this than I, of course) is that many minorities who are qualified simply never make it to the audition. Also, many younger minority musicians who could go this path simply don't see it as an option and thus don't work toward it. This is worth an entire blog, really, and there are people that are so much better at explaining this than I , but I will put this on my list of things to blog about because it is very much worth explaining.

I think this is the exact kind of thing that the ongoing conversation about diversifying classical music needs to address, because though it sounds like the system is fair, it is just a lot more complex then it looks on the surface.

From Nathan Cole
Posted on August 22, 2015 at 9:33 PM
Yes, I can attest that as far as professional symphonies go, there is hardly any representation by African-Americans even at the audition. For quite a while, orchestras have therefore said, "Well, we can't control who auditions... may the best man (and since screens, woman!) win." Slowly, we are realizing that that's not quite enough in terms of enhancing our long-term relevance. Only when the audition pool is broader and deeper will we have orchestras that matter to everyone.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on August 23, 2015 at 12:09 AM
Ilene, hashtags are used to identify messages of a specific topic, preceded by a #. So if I were tweeting about something related to the violin I might say:

How to take care of your #violin.

Then all the people on twitter could click on #violin and find other tweets related to the violin.

In this case, the hashtag was #reversediscrimination.

From Paul Deck
Posted on August 23, 2015 at 3:38 AM
Following up on Nathan Cole's post, in some organizations interviews do not commence until the applicant pool (and sometimes even the "short list") has been certified by HR or a separate EO/AA office as representative of the field. The department wishing to make a hire is thereby incentivized to identify minority candidates and invite them to apply, which can be done in various completely legitimate and wholesome ways. Needless to say, this is not a blind process.
From tammuz kolenyo
Posted on August 23, 2015 at 5:35 AM
My post below is not going to be a nice demure one, I'm voicing my own stance based out of my concern with racism. However, I mean no personal offence against Madame Meyers or anyone on this board.

Someone above : "I can't help but feel that people were OVERLY sensitive about how they interpret her question/statement. Anne is such a beautiful person and artist."

Well, imagine if such a 'beautiful' person was able to voice such an insensitive comment blind to the very history and context that would cause black and brown artists to huddle together in order to encourage each other. Now, those who try to play the card that her mixed heritage makes her into an equivalent minority are playing a weak one: if anything, the 'interesting' Japanese inheritance would make her even more palatable to a white Eurocentric group (especially within the classical world);and to put it rather bluntly and without much subtlety, she is 'whiter than white'!

Now, imagine that with the added nonsense and difficulties black/brown musicians have to put up with within in their life or their comes a privileged 'beautiful' white person throwing such a callous remark...and here you find people on this forum actually defending her comments, being apologetic. Go apologize to those extra-struggling artists (since most artists are struggling anyway) who have to wade in the nonsense of racism and being evaluated on their racial differences on a daily basis that she would not be subject to.

And, finally, imagine that if such a liberal and nice spirit as Madame Meyers (and I believe that she might very well be that nice and liberal) is able to say such things...imagine what she leaves to be said by the less liberal and less beautiful, the viciously racist. Imagine where the spectrum of racism starts from.

Maybe Madame Meyers genuinely means her apology, but I think such apologies sometimes express mostly a regret for having acted unpolitically rather than necessarily true regret for having held such distasteful ideas in the first place. But there is much that is wrong about what she said and about people standing up for not just her, but for her comment that she apologized for anyway. There is a term for what is going on here: racism by means of colour blindness. Please look it up.

It is not the fault of those artists that they feel that they need to come together, Madame Meyers. It is the fault of a history of persecution and racism, of being disadvantaged and/or history of being made to feel persecuted, inferior, different such that they see in themselves and in each other their strength. Claiming that this is reverse discrimination is simply, THIS is a result of the usual discrimination against brown and black people. This is the raison d'être for the solidarity amongst them in the first place. Saying its reverse discrimination is a warped, perverse and simply faulty interpretation.

Again, I want to emphasize that it is not a personal attack against Madame Meyers but against those insidious unquestioned racist ideas that one might think are benign because they've never been on the other side of the experience, on side that is made to feel different by virtue of race or sexual orientation and so on.

Its very easy to talk about how accepting one is of others no matter their race and difference; its very different to appreciate the tangible and daily difficulties that they have to put up with that you don't and how these are also present sediments of painful histories. I wish all the best luck to Chineke! Orchestra, exactly for who and what they are.

Thank you for reading

From Jesus Florido
Posted on August 23, 2015 at 5:38 AM
I wanted to comment on this article but the fact that has anonymous people making comments makes me not want to do so. I have made a personal rule not comment when I do not know who is participating in the discussion.
From marjory lange
Posted on August 23, 2015 at 7:34 AM
Some of the anonymous people may simply have forgotten to sign in (I did, when I made virtually the same post a few minutes ago). Some, of course, may intend to be anonymous. When you think about it, there is no guarantee that the names etc., that people use here are real. It's unpleasant to have discussions with people who refuse to be themselves, appearing under their IPA, but it's nothing new, really. Letters to the Editor used to be signed things like "crafty reader," or "concerned citizen."
(It'll be interesting when/if my previous post makes it through the screening process; this one should appear quickly because I [finally] remembered to sign back in after clearing cache & cookies as I do weekly.)
From Raphael Klayman
Posted on August 23, 2015 at 12:18 PM
I don't know why we can't give Ms. Myers the benefit of the doubt. There's no question that this subject is a powder keg, and almost anything anyone says here might be offensive to someone. When Tammuz says

"if anything, the 'interesting' Japanese inheritance would make her even more palatable to a white Eurocentric group (especially within the classical world);and to put it rather bluntly and without much subtlety, she is 'whiter than white'!

- I find THAT to have assumptions very open to racist interpretations.

As to aliases among posters, it's true that someone can just make up a name. But at least if someone calls himself say, "violin dude" it's not so hard to keep mentally track of as say "123.739.208674." I'm reminded of Captain Kirk's opening blog on every "Star Trek" episode" "Captain's log 42.78.9890.7" Speaking of which, Thank you Ilene, for de-cloaking!

violin dude - er, Raphael

From tammuz kolenyo
Posted on August 23, 2015 at 1:33 PM

I did say that it was being put bluntly in response to the ploy of having her presented, on race perception terms, equivalently to black and brown people.

The gist was to state that the perception of her is not really being sieved through on racial terms relative to a group of white folk as is the case with, say, most members of Chineke. I think it is quite clear that I am not being pejorative neither of her Japanese heritage or her Caucasian one. I am talking about whether one is being perceived and evaluated on grounds of being a minority ethnicity within a majority ethnicity that has displayed historically prejudices towards these others. It might not have been you who has those prejudices, it might be some of your country's policemen say (hence Dark Lives Matter in the US) ...or politicians...or some of you. This is something many black and brown people go through on a daily basis, in supermarkets, on streets, etc. This is not the case with Madame Meyers.

If you wish to nitpick and offer an interpretation of what I mean such that I end up being called out a racist, you might well do that. But in my opinion, that is as perverse an interpretation as was Madame Meyer's accusation of reverse discrimination.

It is simple: She doesn't go through much of the discrimination visibly black and brown people do in European/Western countries. This is why I call her virtually white...not because I have a fetish for race discrimination or purity myself.

And the reason why I cannot give her the benefit of a doubt is because you are all finding it so easy to give her the benefit of the doubt since the very beginning of this discussion! I find that I would rather side with the person who might have got hurt by her comment and criticize her comment and say why I think it is so wrong. Again, my concern is not her person. I will stay listen to her beautiful playing and not demonize her. My point is that we should hold up to question what you assume to be benign (and given the benefit of the doubt) when clearly it is callous and insensitive towards people who have to go through experiences you didn't.

From Raphael Klayman
Posted on August 23, 2015 at 4:32 PM
Well, Tammuz, if I'm "nit-picking", there are nits worth picking. For example, you called her "virtually white" in your most recent post - which is is open enough to argument - but "whiter than white" in your earlier post. Now you're bringing in American policeman and what-not into this incendiary mix. You're not an expert on the very complex society of my country, which certainly has its faults as well as wonderful qualities. Neither am I, even though I'm a native of the USA and proudly so. You also can't know what I have experienced in my life nor what Ms. Myers has. Surface appearances can be misleading. So before much of the USA gets further pilloried, why don't we stand back, take a breath and consider individual cases. And I for one will remain with giving Ms. Myers the benefit of the doubt.
From Larry Wheeler
Posted on August 23, 2015 at 4:53 PM
Dear Tammuz Kolenyo,

While I cannot speak to your personal experiences either in classical music or elsewhere, I can say that for most of us in music education, identification and support of talent is the norm, in whatever context or color that may appear.

I must, however, speak to some of what you have written here. “I mean no personal offense against Madame Meyers or anyone on this board.” Personally, I find the term “white folk” as offensive as Ross Perot’s “you people.” And “whiter than white” is no more appropriate than “blacker than black.” I also cannot agree that a viewpoint that differs from your own is a “ploy.”

“I cannot give her the benefit of the doubt is because you are all finding it so easy to give her the benefit of the doubt since the very beginning of this discussion!” This is simply not true. Of the 30 posts placed before your first post, 7 were in support of Ms. Meyers, 4 were against, and 12 were neither. (Not included are 7 posts to or from Laurie Niles.) I am saddened that you feel the way you do, but I am not responsible for that, and don’t wish to be made part of your negative point.

From Larry Wheeler
Posted on August 23, 2015 at 5:00 PM
Chineke! founder Chi-chi Nwanoku has said: "My aim is to create a space where black musicians can walk on to the stage and know that they belong, in every sense of the word." While this goal is very important, I hope to see and hear what this group brings in the way of interpretation, style, sound and expression that may be different from the increasingly uniform and internationalized sound of many orchestras today.
From Paul Deck
Posted on August 23, 2015 at 8:00 PM
I think there is a great deal of merit in what Tammuz has written. I always find his contributions unusually thoughtful and articulate. His self-quoted neologisms are jarring but in my opinion adequately contextualized.

As for giving AAM "the benefit of the doubt," I also see no harm in accepting her apology, as long as it was an apology for wrong thinking and not just an apology for wrong tweeting. That's perhaps where the "doubt" arises to which benefit is to be attached.

From tammuz kolenyo
Posted on August 23, 2015 at 10:06 PM
Thanks Paul, though I must say you have a long memory :) I haven't posted for a long time. But I came upon this topic and was taken aback and felt that I wanted a word in. Well, I'm not going to repeat, I made my point and that is it. If one cannot accept it in good faith and wish to twist and warp it so that I come out as being out of order, rather than the burden of comment made by Madame Meyer, then so be it . My purpose is really not to turn this good forum which has given us positive support and advice into a channel of negative feelings. I have much respect for Mr. Klayman irrespective of our difference of viewpoints here; he has contributed much here and I do enjoy his vocal love for his legion of violins and for his playing :)

From Christina C.
Posted on August 24, 2015 at 1:58 AM
When I see the lack of certain minorities in orchestras, what comes to mind is *not* that certain people are being denied opportunities despite the fact that they are qualified (as already mentioned, the standard orchestra audition is blind) but rather that certain people are not getting the opportunity to become qualified in the first place. To me the problem that we're seeing on the professional level starts at the educational level.
From Andrei Pricope
Posted on August 24, 2015 at 9:25 AM
Frankly, this is getting rather silly...

Nobody mentions that, in the US, Asians are a numerical minority, yet there's no shortage of Asian classical musicians (and their contributions), from the beginning level to the very top professional positions in orchestra, chamber, solo, or pedagogy...

Lumping ALL minorities into one category is just as misleading, stereotyping, and derogatory as any racist attitudes; focusing on (selected) race(s) and reactions to those races only delays the arrival of badly-needed progressive race-blind attitudes and actions.

Orchestra auditions are behind screen until the finals, in an effort to be more objective regarding gender/race/age. Until society at large becomes pervasively race-blind, there will be a lingering racist bias or, its opposite, the so-called "white-guilt": diversity quota-driven decisions to be "inclusive" and "relevant", which are the politically correct terms du jour for AAM's crying alleged reverse discrimination.

Not everything is for everyone, so why do Westerners somehow believe that Western musical repertoire, traditions, and aesthetics ARE or, worse, SHOULD be for everyone? There's a difference between advocacy and superiority complex, the latter being just as bigoted, racist, and damagingly elitist as any negative comment, regressive attitude, or discriminatory action it pretends to oppose! I read the phrase "cultural imperialism/colonialism" before...

I don't hear anyone vehemently protesting the gross under-representation of, say, Argentinians in kabuki theater, of aborigines in Alpine yodeling, or the shocking scarcity of eskimos in African drumming... Why is that?

When beautiful music is played in a skilled, passionate, and honest way, more people, regardless of ANY differentiating characteristic, will be drawn in and consequently desire to get involved further. Music has that bridging potential, and true value does its own advocacy... Meanwhile, for the professional music level, let artistic merit, and merit alone, above all, be the sole discriminating criterion for selection!

From Paul Deck
Posted on August 24, 2015 at 2:57 PM
Andrei says it's getting silly, but then he writes, "I don't hear anyone vehemently protesting the gross under-representation of, say, Argentinians in kabuki theater."

No, perhaps not. But were Argentinians kidnapped, hauled across the Pacific to Japan, enslaved for 100+ years, then "emancipated" only to be segregated and denied the most basic rights of citizenship for the next 100+ years?

Within my own lifetime, a black person could not legally marry a white person in the state of Virginia (I was born in 1965).

Just how quickly do you think such wounds should heal? They are still raw.

From Mark Roberts
Posted on August 24, 2015 at 3:13 PM
if you want real problems like this try south africa
From Larry Wheeler
Posted on August 24, 2015 at 5:07 PM
If one should ask if there is currently discrimination in classical music based on race, gender, national origin or religion, the answer is no. For at least 45 years there has been a concerted effort to increase the participation of blacks and Latinos in classical music. Fellowships in professional orchestras and scholarships at most music schools sought and still seek to identify and encourage historically under-represented young musicians. Even so, the audition process for a full-time position in professional orchestras is extremely selective and rigorous. There are many who fail to pass this hurdle, not just these minorities.

The study of classical music is very expensive, and money does not always follow talent. Many music teachers provide free lessons or loan instruments where needed. While teachers can support talent, there has to be the initial interest on the part of the student. That is where the work of Sphinx and Chineke! is vitally important in helping to generate that interest.

From Christian Lesniak
Posted on August 24, 2015 at 9:58 PM
I'm with Tammuz. As (she is) a minority, I would expect her to have some empathy and understand the goals and raison d'etre of the organization. Instead, she makes it clear that she is completely oblivious. She is at the top of her field, and she is unable to understand the greater world around her and understand that not everyone has had her advantages.

She clearly studied with the right people from a young age, which means her family certainly had the resources to give her the best. She studied with Delay and Gingold. While I'm absolutely not doubting her talent, there is a lot of politics in music, and she was well placed to get where she now is. A lot of very talented people have not had all those resources, and a lot of great players don't get where she is, because they don't have certain connections and advantages. Why do you think everyone (outstanding and complete musicians) wants to study with Bron or any of these other super teachers?

So when organizations exist to provide a place for minorities, who often don't have these resources, and she comes in and complains about how she or people like her are excluded, then it just sounds like bullying. If you haven't been down, it's really hard to understand the unfairness of the world, and I have no patience for the privileged complaining about stubbing their toes.

Off my soapbox now.

Posted on August 25, 2015 at 1:48 AM
Wow, multiple attacks against "anonymous" posters!

If you had not already noticed, is quite closely monitored by its officers. All posts to the forums require a name. And this has been true since the Great Purge in the early days, when fun pseudonyms were driven off in a great cloud of rosin dust and steam.

But notice that nevertheless, vc0m very specifically allows non-registered persons to comment on these blog posts. Why? Because to restrict would be to make a Potted Plant rather than a site with broader appeal. Opening blogs to "anonymous" posters means that people who never were registered (and even some who are not interested in being registered) may participate. This is a good thing for the website overall--it brings in a *much* broader community of interested persons. This is to the site's benefit as well as the topic at discussion.

I am frankly rather bemused by the reaction against anonymity. Is the facebook experience emboldening this feeling? It is absurd to expect all public discourse be carried out with identity. I've been using usenet since the days of BBS (compuserve, anyone?). I see much good and little bad in having anonymity.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on August 25, 2015 at 7:03 AM
To explain, we allow limited anonymous posts, and only on the home-page blogs. They all must be approved by me. I prefer the ones that are signed and will nearly always approve those. If the comment seems reasonable and seems to further the conversation, and if it does not violate the rules, I generally will approve it. If I read it and think, "Oh no, you don't get to say that without showing your face," then I do not approve it.

The idea is to encourage participation by those who may not yet be members and may have a special interest in the topic of the blog. For example, we would not have been able to receive the much-needed and relevant comment on this blog from Chi-chi Nwanoku, founder of Chineke!, had we not had this system in place.

We do not allow any anonymous posts on the discussion board.

From Raphael Klayman
Posted on August 25, 2015 at 12:34 PM
I just went back and found Chi-Chi's post. The first time around, seeing all those numbers, my eyes kind of glazed over and I skipped it. For all of those folks who are so condemning of Ms. Myers and won't accept her apology and won't presume innocence before (if ever) guilt is proven, I quote from Chi-Chi: "I have seen Anne Akiko Meyers’ acknowledgement that her comments were a mistake and respect her for doing so."

I think it was Tolstoy who said that courage of one's convictions wasn't so much; it is courage for an ASSAULT on our convictions that we really need! More than once on that saying has occurred to me, and this thread particularly illustrates this. It seems to me that the closest we can come online to talking to, giving and getting support and the (more than) occasional argument and challenge to and from a real person, face-to-face is at least to know who we're talking to and getting support or flack from. I now understand and appreciate Laurie's reasoning better. But still, hearing from number so-and-so who doesn't provide a name, seems less fair - remember the Tolstoy thought above?* It feels like the face-to-face equivalent of talking to someone who is wearing a bag over their head.

*Edit: that quote above was actually from Nietzsche. It was Tolstoy who said that Nietzsche was stupid and abnormal!

From Larry Wheeler
Posted on August 25, 2015 at 4:15 PM
Posting anonymously is equivalent to playing an audition behind a screen. You remain safe should you not represent yourself well.
From Raphael Klayman
Posted on August 25, 2015 at 5:06 PM
But at such auditions, EVERYBODY plays behind a screen, not some yes and some no. It's not an individual option. And at the finals of most orchestra auditions the screen is usually taken away.

In this forum I'm calling for a level playing field. It's one thing to get a number as I now understand it, because you haven't joined, but then identifying yourself as a couple of folks have done. But to remain completely anonymous, say whatever you want and remain hidden, while most others are putting themselves out there, seems less than fair and less than courageous.

From tammuz kolenyo
Posted on August 25, 2015 at 7:50 PM
Especially pertinent as a response to anyone who would wish to argue that people of non European extractions living within European/Western societies should be (or are to be expectedly) culturally separate and discrete relative to the overall culture of the societies they live in (and such people will find that fascists, Nazis and the likes agree with them):

"One black classical musician recently complained that society was pigeonholing black children by not teaching them classical music, condescending to blacks, as if to say: "These are things you should be exposed to, and these other things are too highbrow for you." This is a peculiarly tendentious view. American society currently shows scant interest in artistic training for anybody. There has also been vehement opposition within black communities from political leaders who have argued against "imposing" white European values and who see little point in encouraging their proliferation. Meanwhile, the music business has been almost neurotic in giving excessive acclaim to some young black classical performers -- itself a form of condescension.

The presence of blacks on the concert stage is not, of course, a pressing social or artistic goal. Cultural activities cannot be apportioned according to race and ethnicity; differences are the essence of a diverse society. But the issue cannot be ignored. Racial issues are too important in this country, as are esthetic ones: there is good reason to support art-music education against its parochial opponents; it should be treated as a universal heritage." Source:

Perhaps, we can look at it this way: The classical music world offers a litmus test for the western society's true acceptance and nourishment of so-called minorities. The more it encourages active participation by way of deliberated encouragement and education of the to-date disenfranchised, the more it shows that there is more harmony amongst people of different backgrounds. The more we see people of different backgrounds in the orchestras, the more we can be sure that equity is finding its way into the classic music scene from the growingly equitable (is that a word?) society that forms its context. The fact that this is not the case to date implies that this goal has not been reached.

From tammuz kolenyo
Posted on August 25, 2015 at 8:05 PM
Part of the contention that is going on is whether the issue is economic disenfranchisement (which is the argument of many white liberals) or racism. But many will hold that there is a powerful link that turns the former into a latent manifestation of the latter. Here is an interesting snippet from an interesting article (

"In other words, white opposition to social safety net programs, from health care to cash assistance to nutrition aid and housing assistance, is shaped by the perception that the beneficiaries will be mostly people of color, and thus, undeserving. And this perception retains influence in spite of the reality that it is not mostly people of color who receive the benefits from government programs. While black folks comprise about twelve percent of the population, they receive only fourteen percent of government benefits, roughly in line with their population share and well below their percentage of the nation’s poor, which stands at twenty-two percent. Although African Americans receive certain benefits disproportionately (because they are more likely to be poor and those benefits are only available to persons below a certain income), those disproportions are small. So, for instance, blacks receive about twenty-eight percent of SNAP benefits, which is roughly in keeping with their percentage of the population that is either poor or near poor and thus eligible. They receive only thirteen percent of unemployment benefits, which is below their share of the unemployed at any given moment. They receive twenty-one percent of school lunch benefits (in line with their share of those who qualify for them based on income), only thirteen percent of Medicare benefits, and twenty-two percent of Medicaid benefits, equal to their share of the poverty population.

Likewise, Latinos, who comprise sixteen percent of the population, and twenty-nine percent of the nation’s poor, receive only twelve percent of government benefits. This includes only thirteen percent of unemployment compensation, twenty-three percent of SNAP benefits, five percent of Medicare benefits and twenty-one percent of Medicaid dollars spent. Meanwhile, whites, at forty-two percent of the nation’s poverty population (and sixty-four percent of the overall population), receive sixty-nine percent of all government benefits. Although many of these dollars represent Social Security payments (which, it can be argued, were “earned” by defined contributions into the system during one’s working years), it is still the case that whites receive sixty-eight percent of unemployment benefits, fifty-two percent of SSI benefits (mostly for those with disabilities), forty-two percent of SNAP, consume eighty percent of Medicare expenditures, and nearly six in ten Medicaid dollars.

So long as progressives fail to openly confront the way in which racial resentment against folks of color has been used to weaken support for safety net efforts, attempts to strengthen those safety nets will likely fail. According to a study from the Harvard Institute of Economic Research, it is white racial resentment and bias—and specifically, fear that blacks will take advantage of social programs—more than any other factor, which explains opposition to safety net efforts in America. This means that appeals to self-interest, or even the larger economic benefit of such programs, will likely be ignored unless the racialized root of white opposition is confronted. If whites are being encouraged to defend their interests in racial terms rather than class terms, only by challenging that tendency and exposing it for the deliberately manipulative and cynical strategy it is, might we hope to pare off enough whites from the conservative ranks to join with people of color in defending a more equitable society."

From Larry Wheeler
Posted on August 26, 2015 at 12:11 AM
The discussion has strayed quite far from the original subject. While it is possible to “prove” virtually any position or point of view, it is not necessarily closer to the truth, no matter how eloquently stated. Finding proof of racial bias based on the number of blacks in professional orchestras is as much a fallacy as saying there is favoritism towards Asians, also based on numbers. The audition process is blind until the very end, and many fail that final hurdle, not just blacks or Latinos. Likewise, we cannot prove what was (or wasn’t) in Ms. Meyers’ heart or mind, so best to accept her apology and move on.

I applaud the formation of an all-minority ensemble, but not because it seeks “redress” of past discrimination. Personally, I have not seen institutional discrimination in classical music for at least 50 years, and find little, if anything, to redress. Chineke! has intrinsic value, not as a me-too ensemble, but as an artistic conduit for under-represented minority composers and even the great Beethoven, whose heritage as a mulatto was suppressed or obscured by a racially biased Germany. I would wish to see and hear this group take ownership of Beethoven’s Seventh in their first concert. Now, that would be something to behold.

Posted on August 26, 2015 at 6:29 AM
I am this poster:

I can't help but feel that people were OVERLY sensitive about how they interpret her question/statement. Anne is such a beautiful person and artist.


David Vian Fourie
Johannesburg, South Africa

From David Burgess
Posted on August 26, 2015 at 10:56 AM
Do you think that what has been coined as "reverse racism" should not be discussed, or that the term should not be uttered?
If not, what's wrong with the question Ms Meyers posed?
From Laurie Niles
Posted on August 26, 2015 at 2:44 PM
Thank you for identifying yourself, David Vian Fourie!
From Paul Deck
Posted on August 26, 2015 at 4:00 PM
Tammuz wrote, "Perhaps, we can look at it this way: The classical music world offers a litmus test for the western society's true acceptance and nourishment of so-called minorities."

Much the same has been said about the demographics of the faculty of the typical American research university.

While these might be among the best measures of progress we have, they are difficult to convert into specific proposals for reform. They tell us where we are, but not what we should do.

From Larry Wheeler
Posted on August 26, 2015 at 4:38 PM
Great observation, Paul. Both academia and classical music pursue ideals, but the symphony orchestra comes much closer to realizing those ideals. The make-up of a college faculty can be the result of an agenda, but an orchestra hires based on measurable skills. Women were once discriminated against, especially for principal positions. That is certainly not the case now. The number of Asians winning competitions and places in orchestras has changed dramatically over the past 40 years. At one time, their numbers in classical music were few. What changed was the level of interest, a respect for the study of music, and the application of hard work. While not gender or race specific, their successes can serve as a model for others. As always, it begins with education and ends with hard work.
From tammuz kolenyo
Posted on August 26, 2015 at 8:00 PM

Honestly, what I'm thinking is that if you really wanted to the answers, you would have already had the answers from the posts above I think. I suspect another reason for wishing to interrogate.

"If racial discrimination – the factor that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) uses to determine racism used in the public and professional arena [12] – means denying recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin; and reverse racism – the calling card of mainstream media outlets (especially “news” shows and talk radio when addressing race in America) – means the perception of discrimination against the dominant group in America, how can one correlate to the other? In other words, if white people, the dominant group in America, hold the brunt of all the nation’s political, economic, social, and cultural power, the only way blacks can deny them recognition, enjoyment or exercise, equal footing, human rights and fundamental freedoms is to acquire some god-like, extraterrestrial assistance that would provide them the power needed to perform such a colossal, mountainous task. And that’s not happening." from


And something instructive about some of the reactions my reaction is garnering:

Now, also note that Madame Meyers states that it is "reverse discrimination". For those playing the Madame-Meyers-is-a-minority-too card, she obviously imagines herself on the reverse side of traditional discrimination side: that is, White. So, its not just me that is imagining her basically white (or, hyperbolically,"whiter than white"). She's not saying that the group in question are just discriminatory (for instance, that they would choose to be against asians) , but specifically reverse-discriminatory. So she is, consciously or otherwise, situating herself in a clear position in a binary White-vs-black/brown setup. So its not just me, its also her interpretation.

Paul Deck,

You misunderstand me I think. I am not saying orchestras are necessarily evaluating anyone on the basis of race. I'm saying that the more people from so-called minority groups surface into the orchestra (by way of blind auditions) the more we can be sure that the society has offered these people a path paved up to this audition, in terms of education, equitable accessibility, additional support targeting the disadvantaged. Yes, orchestra auditions may be equal opportunity...but life leading up to the orchestra for the disenfranchised is not! So, its not that orchestras would necessarily actively discriminate or not discriminate, or would be a litmus test for how unbigoted its chef and managers themselves are but would rather be the passive litmus test for society and more precisely equity within the classical music scene. So, education, accessibility and encouragement really and generally living conditions (hence why I cited Tim Wise's article; one would be deluded to imagine that prospective classical musicians don't live under the normal conditions of other citizens). Something I'm aware that is even a challenge for the majority group.

From Paul Deck
Posted on August 26, 2015 at 8:33 PM
Tammuz wrote, "I'm saying that the more people from so-called minority groups surface into the orchestra (by way of blind auditions) the more we can be sure that the society has offered these people a path paved up to this audition, in terms of education, equitable accessibility, additional support targeting the disadvantaged."

Yes, that's how I understood your earlier post, and I think you're right.

One of the problems facing the use of demographics in academia as a measure of progress is that education and training from kindergarten through a 3-year postdoc is a 25-year process at minimum. So if you introduce reforms in pre-K education, you can't even begin to think about faculty demographics as an outcome for a very long time. And over that time so many other factors come to bear that any correlation between the original reform and the final outcome will be impossible. That's what I meant when I said that faculty demographics can tell us how far we've come, but they're not so good at telling us what to do next.

From David Burgess
Posted on August 26, 2015 at 10:05 PM

Honestly, what I'm thinking is that if you really wanted to the answers, you would have already had the answers from the posts above I think. I suspect another reason for wishing to interrogate."

It was highly predictable, from your posts so far, that you would think that. In actuality, I've gone far beyond the posts in this thread in search of real answers.

Honestly, Tammuz, if you had really brushed up on the history of slavery in the US, you would have already given some acknowledgement to the fact that once the US declared itself as a self-governing nation, slavery was abolished in one state within a year, and went on to be illegal in the entire nation in about 75 years. Many people (both white and black) sacrificed their lives for this cause. Would you like to trivialize the contributions of one race or another?

Did you know that the first legally sanctioned black slave owner in what is now the US, was a black man, and that it was his court action in Great Britain that set the precedent for it being legal in the British American Colonies?

Did you know that the majority of African slaves were taken to Central and South America (not what is now the US), to work on sugar cane plantations?

Did you know that most African slaves were furnished by Africans, who captured their brethren and sold them for profit? And that enslavement of Africans by Africans was going on long before the Europeans got involved in a big way?

There's plenty of blame to go around, so let's please not focus on only one side.

From tammuz kolenyo
Posted on August 26, 2015 at 10:46 PM
If it were so predictable, why did you bother ask? Unless, of course, it was quite clear to you that I would know what you were up to, which was not to garner answers to your questions that you could easily suss out from my previous posts, had you been intellectually honest in the first place.

Yes, I will not take for granted everything looney-bin written up on the internet, such as the attempt you make whitewash (pun very intended) US history with regards to its treatment of Afro-American people (and lets not forget the genocide of the indigenous people). From

"The problem is the story isn't true. We never actually abolished slavery. The 13th Amendment states:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

"...except as a punishment for crime..." This phrase gets ignored in America's telling of its slavery story. The 13th Amendment did not abolish slavery but rather moved it from the plantation to the prison. In 2015, the 2 million (largely Black) people incarcerated in America are legally considered slaves under the Constitution. As a result, they can and are forced to work for pennies an hour with the profits going to counties, states and private corporations including Target, Revlon and Whole Foods. In fact, there are more Black people enslaved today than in 1800.

This is no accident. In The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander lays out how a system of Jim Crow replaced slavery and later how a system of mass incarceration rose to replace Jim Crow. During Reconstruction, Southern states quickly took advantage of the 13th Amendment's slavery loophole by arresting Black people for minor crimes such as unemployment, loitering or gambling, and selling them to private employers through the convict lease system. Today, the majority of Black people enslaved in prisons were arrested for drug crimes. Even though Black people use drugs at the same rate as White people, they are incarcerated for drug crimes at 20 to 50 times the rate of White people in some states.

Also, there is a space here to talk about how slavery, as an economic model, was actually counter-productive to capitalism (this was discussed in Marx's Capital). So please, spare me the nice tunes being played around other people's miseries. The US has a dark and troubling history that it obviously has not faced up to sincerely as, say, Germany had to with respect to its own. However, trying to mitigate the burden of responsibility by trying to find acquiescent middle-men (this is a card played often in misdirecting attention away from the tragic calamity that befell the indigeneous natives due to the colonization by Europeans-then-Americans/Canadians) from the side of the victims who profited in like saying that the Jews were complicit and somewhat responsible for their massacres in the Holocaust due to the existence of Jewish ghetto guards working for the Nazis (

Again, that too, is ugly and perverse

Please do not take anything here personally. You can't convince me of this particular viewpoint and I might not be able to convince you of mine.
Also on this matter, I am not going to drag the point any further so kindly, keep on dreaming of this great history and I'll hold on to my suspicions. At least, being not in the US, there won't be someone coming up with the wisecrack: if you don't like it, leave it. :)

From David Burgess
Posted on August 26, 2015 at 11:22 PM
If it were so predictable, why did you bother ask?"

Are you familiar with something known as "a rhetorical question"? Not that some of my questions weren't straightforward, literal and serious.

As for the rest of your post, I'll leave it to others to decide for themselves whether or not some of your views might be "a little over the top".

Perhaps we could move on to debating whether or not ghosts reside under our beds, and if so, who deserves blame for that?

From tammuz kolenyo
Posted on August 26, 2015 at 11:35 PM
Again, David, with all respect, you're not being intellectually honest.

You asked: "Tammuz;
Do you think that what has been coined as "reverse racism" should not be discussed, or that the term should not be uttered?
If not, what's wrong with the question Ms Meyers posed?"

This is how rhetorical question is defined : The rhetorical question is usually defined as any question asked for a purpose other than to obtain the information the question asks. For example, "Why are you so stupid?" is likely to be a statement regarding one's opinion of the person addressed rather than a genuine request to know

You asked three questions to ascertain which of the two options I would choose, and if not, then to identify what was wrong in Madame Meyer's "question" (btw I don't see how the hashtag can be understood as a question mark: #reversediscrimination)...and that has nothing to do with any of them being rhetorical. No one would understand your questions as having been rhetorical. In truth , these were neither rhetorical nor honest (for reasons explained previously) :)

From David Burgess
Posted on August 26, 2015 at 11:42 PM
Tammus, the question mark in Ms. Meyer's twittered question was at the end of the question, not in the hashtag.

None of my questions to you regarding what Ms. Meyers "twittered" were intended as rhetorical. They were straightforward, and you have not yet answered them.

I think your own comments have sufficiently made my case (about your views being "a little over the top"), that nothing further is required from me at this time.

Posted on August 27, 2015 at 12:09 AM
Isn't the expression "reverse discrmination" completely utterly absurd?

ISn't discrimination simple discrimination? If I am discriminating, I am someone with observational skill: "I won't buy that because it isn't as well-made as that." In the present context, " I won't invite him because he is ____"

So what is reverse discrimination? Does that mean indiscriminate? Or does that mean reverse of some assumed direction? As in, "if discrimination against blacks is discrimination, then discrimination against whites by blacks is reverse discrimination."

And *that*, children, is the dipole that Tammuz tried to explain to David.

The very term "reverse discrimination" feels like a confederate battle flag to me. I grew up in a border state. With that horrendous flag waving around. And white racists spouting off about "reverse discrimination."

This really leaves a terrible bad taste in my mouth. Anne Akiko leaves me perplexed and sad. Am I overblowing? Well, I don't know. I don't know her. And I am reminded of what one of my black friends said long ago, "the outspoken racists, you know where they stand; the ones who are your 'friends' that stab you in the back--that is the troubling part."

From David Burgess
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 12:43 AM
Anonymous poster above;

"Reverse discrimination" is a term commonly applied to a situation where an attempt to take action against discrimination, appears to result in another form of discrimination. The term appears in many dictionaries.

Here's one reference:

From Laurie Niles
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 1:36 AM
"Reverse discrimination" is a dog whistle, and that's at least one of the major problems with the term.
From Larry Wheeler
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 4:24 AM
Anne Akiko Meyers said "It just wasn't about music anymore." This discussion just isn't about classical music anymore. I don't believe she even knows what dog whistle racism is, let alone intentionally sent a coded message in a tweet. Those who would pounce on this as proof that she is racist, and by extension our whole country is, are simply race baiting. (That hot-button term applies here.) This type of narrative does nothing to foster understanding or provide solutions. It doesn't fix any problems but only fixes blame. As creative and intelligent people, we can and should do better than that.
From tammuz kolenyo
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 5:41 AM
In my attempt to further "race bait" - or rather to further underline the gravity of such a callous comment against people grouped as a consequence of racial discrimination that they're not to blame for (though I am sure some here might cite some fine exceptions) and not to accept that just because Madame Meyers is, to you, beautiful and nice, that she has the right to be let off the hook for it- I just came across this:

From which a snippet or two:

"Why would black, Latino or Muslim people bother themselves with the music of an oppressive class as they struggle to feed their families? The Sphinx foundation in America has to be applauded: it has made a great difference in giving minorities a helping hand into this rarefied realm. The brand new Chineke! Orchestra will certainly reveal this music to many that would not have heard it otherwise."

"Akiko Meyers’ post read "I wonder if you have to be black to solo with this orchestra? #reversediscrimination.” As it is well known she has two Stradivaris and a Guarneri del Gesu whose combined value exceeds $20 million, it colors the tone of her comment, coming thus from the pinnacle of the socio-economic scale, to a one of a petulant brat. It is apparent that she realized the foolishness of posting a racial indictment and deleted it very quickly. Until a torqued apology was finally forced from her many days later, none of the usual blogs, broadsheets or magazines picked up on this story, despite the online firestorm of consternation. We wonder just how much that cost."

And now you can also hate on musician x-crack addicts turned critics too :)

From David Burgess
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 11:21 AM
"As it is well known she has two Stradivaris and a Guarneri del Gesu whose combined value exceeds $20 million, it colors the tone of her comment, coming thus from the pinnacle of the socio-economic scale, to a one of a petulant brat."

Wow, that's an surprisingly blatant exhibit of prejudice, particularly ironic since it is made in the context of speaking out against prejudice. It presumes behaviors or beliefs or intent based on economic status. Isn't that the same type of presumptive thinking that fosters racial prejudice?

Also surprising is that while Ms. Meyers herself has gone on to explain what her views really are, some people prefer to reject that, and instead stick to their pejorative assumptions, as if they know more about her intent or what she thinks than she does.

As strange as it may seem to some, not everyone stays on the cutting edge as various words and phrases continue to flow into the "politically incorrect" category, so honest mistakes can be made.

From Larry Wheeler
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 11:59 AM
A musical term somehow comes to mind. That term is col legno, or to hit with the stick. Herein, it may be aptly applied to ‘switch and bait.’
From David Burgess
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 12:12 PM
Kolenyo, col legno?

Uh oh... ;-)

From Paul Deck
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 12:24 PM
Well, I also commented above that I wish I, too, owned two Strads. As far as I know the Del Gesu does not belong to AAM, but she has the use of it for her entire life.

While I agree with almost all of what Tammuz has written, I'm more hesitant about this latter point. Should a person who apparently has the advantages of both opportunity and wealth be excluded from voicing a position on an issue that likely does not affect her personally? How often are the rich and powerful criticized for their silence? Do we "consider the source" or take what was written "blind" and at face value? Would it matter if the same comments had been posted by an African-American musician of comparable stature?

From Raphael Klayman
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 12:40 PM
"Until a torqued apology was finally forced from her many days later" Huh? She took down her post within 20 minutes! Does anybody really think that the pc police came and twisted it out of her? Did she get beaten with a rubber bow?

In our supposedly terrible country, the USA, there is a quaint notion that in a court of law, someone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Of course this does not apply to the court of public opinion. When meandering posts with a political agenda almost equal the length of the original blog, on a soapbox that's getting more and more slippery, it's time to say enough.

From tammuz kolenyo
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 1:52 PM
Paul, I never said that she was expected to be silent. My concern is the content not the voicing of the comment.

Now, as for political agendas, you will find here that I have only reacted successively to your own agendas...that you might not be conscious of presenting. This starts from the recurrent attempt to render her comment benign when it carries with it a lot of insensitivity and ignorance (literally in the sense that she ignores circumstance, context and history). This then moves to your attempt to misrepresent "your country" and its history (Raphael)- and I only respond much later on with the obvious . Then I respond to David Burgress perverse skewing of responsibility for a history of slavery then disenfranchisement at the hand of a specific group of humans over another. At each stage, I've been responding to your own provocations and your own misdirections. And I do so with the help of articles by people who seriously delve into the question of racism as well that should encourage discussion and not personal mockery (my choice of name on this board).

For those of you suffering from white fragility (look it up): No wonder then that you do not see the insensitivity in her comments. Not only are you not the group that has not had to be at the receiving end of the callous comment; you pretty much betray your own insecurities about standing up to the insiduous tentacles of bigotry that might find a host in the most "beautiful and nice" amongst you. You must therefore see her and her comment in yourself.

From David Burgess
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 2:34 PM
Tammuz wrote:
"Paul, I never said that she was expected to be silent. My concern is the content not the voicing of the comment."

So Ms. Meyers is welcome to comment, as long as what she says meets with your approval?


Tammuz wrote:
" (my choice of name on this board)."

You are not posting under your real name?

From Larry Wheeler
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 2:35 PM
How very sad that a pun evokes such an inflamed response. Wasn't the name chosen for that reason? It is as out of proportion as the prodigious verbal chastising and invective based on half-truths and prejudice. Such a waste of a brilliant mind. I, for one, will no longer waste my time responding, so flail away.
From Raphael Klayman
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 4:51 PM
Tammuz - I challenge you to show how I attempted to mis-represent my country (USA). I also challenge you to show where David's clear and cogent post - which, as I recall, ended by saying that there is blame to go around - was factually wrong.

It is YOU who are misrepresenting my country by selectively picking and choosing often very questionable sources to try to support your own prejudices and foregone conclusions, along with such cracks as "at least in my country we don't say 'if you don't like it you can leave.'" (If I didn't quote you exactly, you already have about 100,00 words posted here to wade through.) And since we're at it, I suppose your country - the United Arab Emerites - must be just perfect? How would you like it if an outsider set himself up as a self-appointed authority on what he thought was religious intolerance, treatment of women as 2nd class citizens, etc.?

I would offer you another challenge: The longer this thread goes on, the more toxic it's getting.I challenge you to write just one more final post in which you summarize your thesis as concisely as possible - let it not be in competition with Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past" in verbiage. In return I will do the same and move on.

And Laurie, maybe the last word should go to Ms. Myers - if she cares to do so.

From Paul Deck
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 5:05 PM
The part of Tammuz's statement that I did not agree with was the idea that Ms. Meyers's wealth "colors the tone of her comment.... to a one of a petulant brat." I admit that this notion was tempting to me as well, although I didn't have such strident language in mind. But I reconsidered. Why? Because, whether rightly or not, those who have reached high stature in a profession often assume responsibility to advocate for the profession in general and for its less-well-situated practitioners specifically. My hunch is that this advocacy was Ms. Meyers's original, honorable motivation. My opinion is that she just didn't think carefully enough about the issue at hand before making public comment. Her retraction and apology suggest that she now holds the same opinion of her earlier remarks. It's easy to say, "She only backed off because the PC crowd got on her case," but that just doesn't ring true to me.

I've tried not to contribute to the needless escalation of rancor in this discussion. Hopefully at least in that minor quest I have succeeded.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 5:27 PM
Let's get one thing straight: Anne has apologized. It's because, in her words, she did NOT wish to stand by her post. In fact, she said, "I in no way stand behind that question, in no way." Read it again.

That means that she doesn't stand behind it. Those making the argument, "She should have been able to ask her question..." She doesn't stand by it. She saw that it was meaning something very troublesome to many people, and she realized that it was not what she intended. She apologized; she did not say, "I'm so mad at all these overly sensitive touchy people who didn't let me ask my question." She did not ask people to defend her original intent, she explained and apologized.

From tammuz kolenyo
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 6:13 PM
Raphael, I did not say: ""at least in my country we don't say 'if you don't like it you can leave.'"

you even place "at least in my country" in quotes: now that constitutes a lie. Please refer exactly to my statement. If you want a challenge, at least don't start with a false fabrication.

Furthermore, the UAE is not my country. Secondly, I am in no way a patriot or a nationalist of any country and my own is rife with a distateful history (and present) of its own (although does not extend to ethnic cleansing and oragnised slavery and racism. This is not a contest for who can pee the furthest; one just confronts brutal truths as opposed to sacchirine myths or perverse interprétations meant to alleviate responsibility and partition part of it on the victim (David Burgress here).

Thirdly, kindly refer to my previous posts for all your answers since they're furnished therein. Should you not respect the thoughts of the people cited by way of their articles, this is no surprise as you seem to treasure your own opinion over giving serious consideration to what others are raising as serious concerns. I only cited them for reading and consideration; if you so you wish, by all means please dismiss them whimsically and irrationally on the basis of your, in my opinion, myths whose purpose is nothing but to alleviate blame and diminish recognition of racism when and where it happens.

Laurie, I see your point - although one might wish to believe the sincerety of the apology, or not - for example, if I slap someone on the street then apologize (as opposed to accidentally step on someone's foot) . It was her mind and her fingers that punched in that statement; thankfully we live in an age where we don't believe in demonic possession and where temporary insanity needs to be proven (and is probably a bit unlikely here).

However, even assuming sincerety: As I said before, though, I am not attacking Madame Meyers personally. I am attacking that statement...and it should be attacked inspite of her apology so we make sure that others realise fully well what that comment contains in terms of insensitivity and ignorance/denial. I am sure that without having people standing against that comment strongly here, this issue would have melted into a saachirine puddle of "oh but she is so pretty and nice" and the real issue, that of insidious racism hosted by the seemingly most benign, would have been passed over altogether. I'm dojng nothing but underlining.

David Burgress is right to a certain extent, in that I'm going over the top with this. But that is also a relative issue as, possibly for some who would object to my reaction, some seemingly ambiguous racial insensitivity (consequently racism) is ok while for me, it's deserving of full exposure for what it is. So of course, we define where the 'top' is differently.

EDITED to add:

Paul, the part you refer to was from an article I cited and these were not my words. One could claim that I endorse them by citing them here, and there is reason in that claim. However, I would not say myself "petulant brat". In fact, my reading is to even start with the possibility that Madame Meyers is a really nice and beautiful person...and then hold her responsible for such a comment: imagine the scope of bigotry she leaves to the less nice. The overall gist of the author's opinion, however, I concur with.

From Paul Deck
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 6:23 PM
Laurie, as a journalist surely you can appreciate how discussions like these quickly expand well beyond their original boundaries.

For example, if one now chooses to debate whether AAM's original question was reasonable after all, then the fact that she has apologized for having asked it becomes largely irrelevant, even though that apology is ostensibly the basis for the blog entry.

Likewise, I should be free to speculate on her original intentions without her approval, as long as I am careful not to cast my remarks as informed fact. That is why I used language like "I surmise" or "my opinion" or "my hunch."

Such conjecture is not personal. It's not about AAM any more, even though her name continues to be used. It has become a hypothetical argument in which her experience provides a convenient vehicle for debate. To me that seems healthy as long as we can keep the petty recriminations to something of a minimum.

Something else that I believe has been neglected is the possibility that an individual can change his or her mind on an issue when confronted. We're so used to people having their heels dug in on every issue that we can't believe it's possible to have a change of heart. But I think there should be room for that possibility.

From David Burgess
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 8:32 PM
What "sacchirine myths" or "perverse interprétations" did I put forth? Is that your reaction to a few facts about slavery I offered, which aren't widely known, and might not fit conveniently into an "all-white-blame" agenda?
Surely you can do better than disparagement and name-calling.

A little background on myself:
I am probably mostly "white" (through no fault of my own), but I'm probably more of a "mutt", like many Americans, and I grew up with an adopted minority-race sister.
I look forward to a day when all people on earth can be sisters and brothers. But I think that will be hard to accomplish, as long as there is an attitude which centers around confrontation over perceived wrongs, rather than understanding and forgiveness.

Interestingly, the wish that we could all be brothers and sisters was predominant among the people I spoke with in China when I was there, and the same was true for the people in Russia when I was there recently.

I really don't appreciate those who try to get us all jacked up into a conflict stance. Maybe it's a control or power trip?

Do we really need stuff like this? (what follows is my attempt at paraphrasing and translating into one form of American dialect):
"Golly-dang it, that semi-white rich beotch said something I don't approve of, so I'm going to write about nine full pages and 30 thousand words of text, condemning (and in support of condemning) what that clueless beotch did".

That's not much above the the level of how a low-life American would react. If they could read and write. ;)

Sure, the concepts sounded more appealing when they were presented in a more formal English format. That's something to think about too.

From Raphael Klayman
Posted on August 27, 2015 at 8:42 PM
Tammuz: you closed your post of August 25 2015, 10:46 PM thus:

"Also on this matter, I am not going to drag the point any further so kindly, keep on dreaming of this great history and I'll hold on to my suspicions. At least, being not in the US, there won't be someone coming up with the wisecrack: if you don't like it, leave it. :)"

If I click on your name I get "Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Arab Emarites"

From Jim Hastings
Posted on August 28, 2015 at 1:34 AM
I read the original blog post the day it went up and have watched this discussion ever since. But I have stayed on the sidelines -- until now.

As reported, AAM did make a retraction and then issued an apology. Even if she hadn't, I wouldn't have thought any less highly of her. For the record, I don't know her personally; I know her only through her playing. Reverse discrimination, now that the subject has already come up, is a legitimate topic, though there are other forums better suited to full-blown discussion of it. I myself haven't experienced it, but I've heard from some who have. It's wrong. And two wrongs don't make a right. Still, let us hope, there is gradual progress toward the goal of equal opportunity. That doesn't necessarily mean equal outcomes.

The one little item I really wanted to nit-pick is the use -- or misuse -- of the words privilege and privileged in the responses above. Yes, I'm well aware that today's academia, especially in the sociology departments, has its way of defining and using these words.

But I'm sticking to Webster's definition: "a right or benefit that is given to some people and not to others" -- generally by government or legal authority. Again, it's given or conferred. It's not something one has or earns. The word derives from the Latin privilegium, which means "law for or against a private person." In light of this, I don't consider AAM, or myself, a "privileged … person."

Check out what David Henderson said in his article "The Real Meaning of Privilege." For me, at least, Henderson nails it:

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Anne Cole Violin Maker
Anne Cole Violin Maker

Miroirs CA Classical Music Journal
Miroirs CA Classical Music Journal

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Classic Violin Olympus

Coltman Chamber Music Competition

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Jargar Strings


Violin Lab



Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine