Race Relations: Music used to ease racial tension

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ENTERPRISE, Ala. (WDHN) — Songs of hope are all around us and there is a lot to be taught and learned from these songs says Enterprise State Community College Fine Arts Chair Dr. Thomas.

“Yes, arts and race relations, we need all of this to get over the racial tension that is going on in this country,” said Choir Director, Ken Thomas, m.Ed., ph.D.

Dr. Thomas opened up about the racism he has experienced in his life.

“People say well Ken, you’ve never experienced any of that, oh yeah, I‘ve been called the ‘N word’, I’ve been called ‘boy’, I’ve been disrespected through my professional career,” said Thomas.

Thomas uses songs to teach his students about history and culture to prevent the mistakes of the past.

“I think as I was telling the students recently, part of the issue is that our history has not been told as it happened,” said Thomas. “We like to sugar coat things and that is not how we move forward. History is history whether we like it or not.”

Students of Dr.Thomas view music as a release during such a racially tense time.

“Through music people can just escape through that route and just feel so much more positive emotions and come together as one, as before,” said ESCC Student and Choir Member, Victor Alvaro.

The choir sings songs of hope, songs like “Why We Sing” by Greg Gilpin.

“The way it says ‘music is the language that can speak to one and all’, absolutely it can speak to everybody, and I feel like the power in why we sing, is perfect for the times we are going in right now,” said ESCC Student and Choir Member, Savana Adkins.

As choir members, the singers experience diversity every day. Adkins hopes one thing is understood…

“You can’t judge somebody by the color of their skin, you can’t do that, that wasn’t their choice,” said Adkins. “They don’t get to choose who their parents are. Everybody who was born, they don’t get to choose whether they were white or black or Asian, or Mexican, they don’t get to choose that, that’s not a choice, so you can’t, you can’t judge people based off of that.”

As for Dr. Thomas, he says one lesson is especially important for everyone to understand.

“You hear people say, live and let live, yeah live and let live, let’s treat others as we want to be treated and we have to be carefully taught, hate is taught, love is taught, so we have to be carefully taught,” said Thomas.

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