Letter From The Director

John Gilbreath smiling in front of jazz art poster

Black Lives Matter

These are incredible times. I believe they’re historic times. James Baldwin said, “We’ve been locked inside a history of racism that we did not originally create.” Comfort and denial have not helped non-Black folks change that history; but the alarms are loud and clear now, and comfort is barely an expectation. Good. It’s past time to stay awake. As Earshot Jazz takes a stand against the intrinsic racism that has oppressed, brutalized, and murdered Black Americans for centuries, we also pledge to mistrust the consciousness that has allowed us to rest too easily, for too long. Please see our statement to our commitment to antiracism work on page 6.

As an organization that was founded and has worked to celebrate jazz as a Black-American cultural treasure, it has been perhaps too convenient for us to claim high ground in the constant racial inequities that undergird the structure of everyday life. Remarkably, as with all white privilege, our too often high-minded resolve has shuttered our view of the lives and everyday experiences outside of our own worldview. We have to be ready to unlearn the confidence we’ve been compelled to project. We’ll need your help.

Jazz has been on the vanguard of both suffering and liberation in this country. It’s an artform that thrives on change. Jazz brought integration to the bandstand and airwaves years ago, but now carries the racial tension of white appropriation (for more on Seattle’s history of segregated musicians’ unions, (see page 10). Jazz is many things; never confined by its own history. It is the sound of surprise and food for the soul; more work in progress.

We pledge to open our ears to Black voices, to open our eyes to inequity, open our stages to the breadth of Black expression, open our mouths against racism, open our doors to Black employees and advisors, and to open our hearts to the dignity of all Black Lives. Please join us.

John Gilbreath, Executive Director


Posted on

July 1, 2020