Adrian K. Davis is currently a 2024 NAfME North Central Division President-Elect Candidate.
Responses to the election questions
What do you see as the major challenges music education will face during your term and in what ways can you transform these into opportunities during your presidency?
Underrepresentation of diverse populations in leadership, curriculum, pedagogy, policy, and spaces has historically been an ongoing challenge in music education. This is greatly due to the continued domination and influence of white supremacist ideologies. The diversity and/or equity, collectively sought after by many, continues to be othered into a zone of non-being. The white supremacist agenda remains connected to music leadership by separating education from culture. Our intentionalities in the music classroom must begin to include a greater cultural competence. The transformation only happens when care for others beyond yourself is prioritized, along with the acknowledgement that music education in the United States was never originally intended to be diverse, equitable, or inclusive. Any action taken to change that is a disruption of the status quo, and could lead to a transformative, relevant, and engaging music education experience.
What do you see as the major challenges the association will face during your term and in what ways can you transform these into opportunities during your presidency?
What does NAfME have to offer me that I cannot already do for myself? That is the question that many music educators wonder. The major challenge will be for NAfME to rebrand itself as a valuable asset for all music educators, music advocates, and music communities. Are Blacks, Latinx, and other racially/ethnically diverse cultures welcome as community members, or does the stereotype of theory and piano competence still make these populations the guests? Will it take another traumatic experience like the murder of George Floyd to break the apathy that exists toward marginalized populations, or do the current actions of NAfME only show performativity, with the expectation of going back to the “regularly scheduled program?” Now is the opportunity for the association to face these challenges by activating their next steps in leading change that supports music education for all, not just for some.
How do you plan to advance equity/DEIA in NAfME during your term of office?
As a Black man in music education, it is already my perspective that I am operating as an endangered species. With that thought in mind, I would like to begin advancing equity, along with DEIA by assessing what has already been done. Based on assessment, I will begin marking the current systems that are oppressive and hegemonic in nature. I would also like to introduce more opportunities and spaces for counterknowledge and counternarrative in our music communities. Because equity is not natural, whiteness must be decentered, and the collective humanity of all people must be actualized through critically conscious programs and services. It is not just about doing, but it is about doing with understanding.
The original intent of music education in America was never meant to promote equity or diversity. There are currently systemic concerns in curriculum design, postsecondary options, and career development in music education that are working toward promoting re-segregation, as well as perpetuating other forms of oppression. I am inspired to disrupt these systems, and create opportunities in music education for marginalized populations on every level. As a representative of the African diaspora, I bear culture for many generations past, present, and future. My example allows people with similar cultural backgrounds as me to construct an image in education that is valued, appreciated, or even seen.
The fair and equal access to opportunities, support, and tools in a given environment is essential to the success of all people. One set of standards is not fair and creates an advantage for a group of people over another. Reproducing advantages that negatively affect the disadvantaged has historically been normalized, followed by structures that have predetermined failure for marginalized populations. I am interested in reestablishing policies in music education that are both equal and equitable for all. I would also like to explore solutions for marginalized communities to have opportunities for leadership in music education on every level. Also, the narrative of marginalized populations must change from a deficit perspective to an equal and vital community member of a pluralistic society. Exploring ideas in this rebranding of music education as cultural capital in underrepresented communities is the spark for equity.
If diversity were the intent of American public school education, there would not be an underrepresentation of women and Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) in leadership positions in music education. There would be a greater diversity of music teachers, music administrators, music professors, and not just musicians/entertainers. For many generations, the whiteness in music education has been overrepresented in a nation that prides itself in being multicultural and/or pluralistic. I hope that my leadership will represent a newer outlook on diversity in music education in the United States. It is one thing to embrace marginalized and/or minoritized populations as the guests at the equity table. It is another thing for these same people to be the leaders at the table.
All leaders bring their own unique style and perspective to a performance space. To be effective, however, there are certain characteristics such as integrity, honesty, reliability, and empathy that are essential to leadership, regardless of cultural background. My whoness, lends me to be sensitized to the needs of underrepresented populations. In an effort to equalize opportunities through strategic community uplift, leadership must listen for understanding. Leadership must also be assertive in using their position to promote a positive and healthy climate that decenters oppressive structures, while elevating educational justice for all.