Martin Speake’s Email to Hans Koller, Aleks Szram, and Anthony Bowne

Dear Aleks and Anthony 

I began writing this last year but after another BLM reference and email from Anthony recently I have been prompted to add more to this response and send this as you have asked for feedback. Regarding your statements on inclusivity and Kaleidoscope: Celebrating Black British Music and now BLM at Trinity. 

I would like to discuss this whole issue at some point as black musicians in jazz and many other styles of music are definitely not under-represented in the UK and have far more opportunities than many others as funding bodies, media, promoters and festivals are biased in this way. Some white musicians deliberately have black musicians in their band to help them get gigs rather than thinking who is musically suitable and are too scared to speak out about this issue as they will be labelled ‘racist’. 

I and many others find it very hard to get concerts particularly at festivals because of this agenda that is now going on throughout the UK. I realise it comes from the government and above and all institutions and companies are being instructed in this way throughout the UK and many countries worldwide or they won’t get their funding maybe? 
Why is it relevant what colour the skin is? 
You mention systemic inequality. This is just not the case in my department. Also why hire somebody because of the colour of their skin? 

Which black composers in Jazz are underrepresented? Can you tell me? 
Several below have OBE or MBE’s. Hardly not recognised by the system. 
Certainly not Byron Wallen, Soweto Kinch, Peter Edwards, Jason Yarde, Xhosa Cole, Nubya Garcia, Tony Kofi, Sultan Stevenson, Ezra Collective, Courtney Pine, Ayanna Witter Johnson, Shabaka Hutchins, Moses Boyd, Cassie Kinoshi, Binker Golding, Daniel Casimir, Mark Kavuma, Tomorrow’s Warriors, Nu Civilisation Orchestra, Gary Crosby OBE, Cleveland Watkiss MBE, Orphy Robinson MBE, Julian Joseph OBE, and many others who all have lots of press attention, label support, funding and high profile concerts in comparison to many high quality white musicians who don’t get this support. 
Just look at the publicity for the LJF last year 
and the publicity TL use is all about the black musicians who have graduated such as Nubya Garcia, Ezra Collective, Cassie Kinoshi, Moses Boyd who have media and label support. 
This is not representative of the whole of British Jazz or even of TL but a tiny section the controlling bodies choose to promote and these organisations have a lot of power and create an inaccurate perception of what British jazz is. 
This is not 20th century USA or apartheid South Africa when there was obvious discrimination and violence from the state against blacks. 
There are many under represented musicians and composers of all skin colour and backgrounds. The bias of emphasising black composers regardless of quality of music doesn’t make sense to me. This quote from Frank Haviland sums up for me what is happening “Mainstream publications, educational institutions, the media and public figures are now collectively normalising the war on whiteness to such an extent, you’d think they were discussing a sickness, not a race.” 
From this article. 

Maybe in classical music and dance it is an issue but there are very few black classical musicians as far as I know, looking at the student body at TL or orchestras and professional musicians, although probably increasing? Let me know. You can’t force black children to play classical music just to get quotas up and promote ‘equality’, whatever that is. Hence TL can only use the jazz course for their quotas hiring black staff and recruiting black students. 
It is the classical arena that needs to change in many ways and as I mentioned in a previous email to Aleks, particularly how it is taught. It is a mistake to direct any of this agenda to the jazz course or jazz scene. I feel it is divisive. This makes no financial, artistic or educational sense and I feel this old model and these courses, who cannot recruit, are bailed out financially by TL because of the historical tradition. As I said in my previous email to Aleks last year, which he said he agreed with everything I had written on this subject, my suggestion is to recruit the best instrumentalists and then arrange the music for this line up rather than sticking to the orchestral or traditional model. Music can be arranged for any line up. Then students will get far more playing opportunities. The jazz course is thriving and turns away huge numbers of students applying yet has a miniscule masterclass budget for example. These issues for me are a far bigger priority that the so called race issue that TL seems to be making an unnecessary priority to please some goverment dictat. 

For me the opportunity is about class not skin colour. Many poor white, asian and black children don’t get the opportunity to play music or afford instruments. Not just black. This policy being promoted by TL is totally discriminatory ironically. If there is systematic bias in Britain which discriminates against one race over others it is against white people. Also there is a use of the victim mentality to further careers (and for other reasons) that needs to be discussed but this is a wider issue. 
By constantly emphasising that blacks are discriminated against, institutional racism (which does not exist in the jazz world, apart from maybe against whites now in certain areas of promotion) and are underdogs, deprived of opportunities etc, this encourages the victim mentality and is untrue. 
You just need to look around Greenwich and can see the majority of students at Greenwich University are black. So how are they underprivileged or 
discriminated against? 

Also the promotion of the organisation Black Lives Matter, as you have put it in capital letters I presume you are referring to BLM, is very dangerous in my opinion. The critical race theory stated by BLM states that racism is embedded in society, not only the product of individual bias and prejudice, but is entrenched in institutions. I don’t believe this to be true. Look at all those who I have mentioned above recognised by the system and the number of black Greenwich University students. They are in the massive majority 

BLM promotes defunding of the police so are you supporting that? 
The other concerning issue is that because of this emphasis on being black and supposedly a victim and under represented the ‘race card ‘can be used if anybody criticises or disagrees with a black student or staff, then that it is called racist. This is happening and the issue will be nothing to do with skin colour. Very dangerous area we are getting into. Apologising for being white and presuming blacks are always right. Divisive. 

Martin Luther King famously called on us to judge 
people according to the content of their character not the colour of their skin. 

With best wishes