Faculty and staff of the UNC music department introduced "Do the Work Wednesdays," a weekly series that highlights anti-racism work being done in the department. It came after the department spent the summer reflecting on their internal systemic racism and ways to enact meaningful change.
The series alternates between featuring individual BIPOC artists and anti-racism resources, such as a catalog of music by BIPOC artists and a series of blog posts confronting racism and sexism in American music theory.
Cat Zachary, the communications coordinator for the music department, put DWW together hoping it would encourage conversations around anti-racism work within the department and bring the department to confront its own record.
“Particularly as a historically white university and department, it’s important for us to reckon with the past and to work to be better constantly,” Zachary said.
She’s particularly excited for an upcoming installment that will highlight one of the department’s first Black faculty members.
“We don’t want to be the kind of organization that just throws up a solidarity message and then goes back to doing things the way we’ve always done them,” Mark Katz, a professor in the music department, said.
Katz recently wrote a piece on Alim Braxton, a hip hop artist on death row who he’s been working with for the past year. Braxton’s music aims to raise awareness about the number of innocent people on death row.
Katz hopes DWW will be an opportunity for students and faculty in the department to keep up with each other’s work, be inspired to do something similar, or at least come away with a better understanding of issues like systemic racism.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised that there’s more work being done than I realized,” Katz said. “I didn’t know about all the students that are doing really important work, and it was great to learn about them."