So often throughout history, research evidence has been used to enforce master narratives of White supremacy and anti-Black racism while also conditioning us to believe that this social order is, in fact, legitimate. To not have to acknowledge the use of research evidence in the maintenance of White supremacy and anti-Black racism is itself an act of White supremacy and anti-Black racism.
David E. Kirkland, No Small Matters: Reimagining the use of Research Evidence from a Racial Justice Perspective
This is how higher educational music departments are maintained in my opinion. In other words, sometimes it’s hard to recognize when courses are exclusionary because we have been conditioned to believe it is natural. Specifically, I justified the exclusion of people of color performers and musicians in most of my music education for a long time with the idea that white power led to underrepresentation. It seems antiracist enough, until I realized that underrepresentation is an illegitimate social order which we have the power to change. If you saw my last blog post, I talked more in depth about how music departments are shaped by white power after reading Philip Ewell’s, Music Theory’s White Racial Frame. Here though, I would like to provide some examples to support a future of inclusion in music courses.
Studying music of white composers is so easy because it does not require much historical knowledge to understand, but why should it be a problem to give historical context to the pieces we study in theory? Ewell encourages students to challenge their professors on why they elect to share pieces with complicated histories without providing context. Dare I suggest, we might even change some of the material we study by including more pieces from historical events such as the Harlem Renaissance. Samuel Floyd Jr. writes about the creativity of Black musicians during the Harlem Renaissance in his book, Black Music in the Harlem Renaissance. He writes, “The music of Black theater shows, the dance music of the cabarets, the blues and ragtime of the speakeasies and the rent parties, the spirituals and the art songs of the recital and concert hall all provided an ambiance for Renaissance activities and contemplation.” 2 He also writes about the theft committed by white composers. The song, “Lady Be Good” is a piece by Black composers which was then ripped off by Gershwin later. I could not find the original composers in my search. Instead, here is Gershwin’s version:
With all this music making happening, at the very least there are great pieces of music that can fit into existing course structure for analysis. Ewell states that musicologists tend to be better at grappling with representation issues than music theorists, but imagine if the responsibility for representation was shared across the whole music department. Ewell writes to students, “You have power, more than you know,”3 and I do believe that we have power to chip away at our white male history.
 Quoted in Ewell, Phillip. “Music Theory’s Quantitative and Qualitative Whiteness.” Music Theory’s White Racial Frame. June 26, 2020. Accessed December 14, 2021. https://musictheoryswhiteracialframe.wordpress.com/2020/04/17/music-theorys-quantitative-and-qualitative-whiteness/.
 Floyd. (1990). Black music in the Harlem Renaissance : a collection of essays . Greenwood Press.
 Ewell, Phillip By Philip. “Music Theory’s Quantitative and Qualitative Whiteness.” Music Theory’s White Racial Frame. June 26, 2020. Accessed December 14, 2021. https://musictheoryswhiteracialframe.wordpress.com/2020/04/17/music-theorys-quantitative-and-qualitative-whiteness/.