“A Mockery Of My Culture”: Students Oppose A “Mostly White” Choir For Singing Spirituals as Cultural Appropriation

I have previously discussed what appears to be an ever-expanding scope of “cultural appropriation” charges at colleges and universities. The latest controversy has arisen at Western Michigan University School of Music after a concert featured a “mostly white” choir performing African-American spirituals. “Spirituals: From Ship to Shore” was led by Salisbury University Associate Professor John Wesley Wright, who is African American. However, the racial makeup of the choir led to protests over cultural appropriation over what one advocate denounced as a “a mockery of my culture.”

WMU music major Shaylee Faught led the fight against the concert and denounced Wright’s claim that the choir was singing for all groups and all cultures. She posted an attack on Wright that said that he “sounded uneducated and ignorant” and that allowing so many whites on the choir made “a mockery of my culture.”

Shayy.marieee@shayy_marieeeDT

So apparently Western Michigan University thinks it’s ok for WHITE peoples to sing negro spirituals while the instructor talking bout “these songs don’t belong to one race”. They sure as hell DO.142K4:40 PM – Feb 20, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy34.2K people are talking about this

The campus Black Student Union also denounced the “appalling” concert with so many whites on a choir and called for the “immediate need for racial re-education on sensitivity training and cultural competence.”

Professor Wright stood by his choir and their music. He insisted that it is the music not the race of the singers that is the important element. He insisted that the choir used their gifts to educate and celebrate African-American songs and traditions.” He added two additional points: one on defense and one on offense. He declared “I do not feel the need to have to defend what I’m doing and I’ve done this for 30 years and to great response.”

Wright also went on the attack and questioned Faught’s “motives and well being,” asking “So has anyone investigated this person?”

That comment rightfully concerned many over a personal attack on a student. However, Faught then responded in kind by saying “He tried to dismiss everything I said. That’s cool. My mental health is FINE by the way but I’m not going to argue with a grown ass man about MY OPINION.”

Putting aside the personal attacks, there remains the original issue of whether whites singing spirituals is an offense and cultural appropriation. I strongly oppose that view. These artists are celebrating different cultures and musical traditions. When I see a non-Italian singing La Traviata or Sicilian folk songs, I am not offended as a Sicilian. I am delighted that my culture is being explored by others. Listening to Marian Anderson was a thrill because she was a great artist and talent, not because she was an African American. When she sang Italian operas, it was not cultural appropriation, it was a cultural celebration.

This effort to bar whites from singing certain songs is an attack on artistic expression and free speech.

123 thoughts on ““A Mockery Of My Culture”: Students Oppose A “Mostly White” Choir For Singing Spirituals as Cultural Appropriation”

  1. This is a lengthy essay, but certainly applicable to all our discussions on the erosion of free speech.

    But if the university renounces its calling in the matter of truth-directed argument, then we not only lose a great benefit from which all of us profit; we lose the university as an institution. It becomes something else—a center of indoctrination without a doctrine, a way of closing the mind without the great benefit that is conferred by religion, which also closes the mind, but closes it around a community-creating narrative. We should recall that, when the totalitarian movements of the twentieth century began their wars and genocides, the universities were first among their targets—the places where discussion was most urgently to be controlled. The behavior of the communist and anarchist student cells in Russia, and the Brown Shirts in Germany, was repeated by the student revolutionaries of May 1968 in France and by many student activists today.
    https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/02/threat-free-speech-university-roger-scruton-timeless.html?utm_source=The+Imaginative+Conservative+%28Daily%29&utm_campaign=750b2c8b95-Today%27s+Essays&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b25fb6fc69-750b2c8b95-132528881&mc_cid=750b2c8b95&mc_eid=c1f326aae5

  2. This is Foolishness and offensive on many levels. 1st as an American Black man I admit my bias on this matter. College admission is not a Right, but rather a privilege earned through academic and or (unfortunately) athletic prowess. Students Ask to be educated there. The college has a duty to provide the best education it can for it’s students. With that in mind, any disruption of the educational process, by staff or students should not be tolerateld. Consequences should be swift and decisive with zero tolerance. Students who find time and reasons to protest and disrupt the educational process, have found reasons to continue their education elsewhere. Give these miscreants, One warning only then expel them.

  3. As a white dude I would probably find this disconcerting myself, just as I do black folks who sing country or perform bluegrass.

    I would also have to question why a professor would respond to such race- baiting – the very fact that someone of African descent is attending university, or speaking English, is “cultural appropriation.”

  4. Simple: Music is Music. I guess I’m old enough to say.
    But then, rap/hip-hap reminds me of Drum and Bugle sans bugle.
    Great rhythm but just not music.

      1. Are you sure? Hahaha….would you like me to bust a rap? Sounds lyrical and expressive to me. 😉

        Or I can see some Opera really bad for you? My rap is better than my opera attempt, let me know. 😁😆

  5. I think that this cultural appropriation crap says one thing. These leftist have too much time on they’re hands. These are people who mostly live on college campuses and probably don’t even make they’re own bed.

  6. Spiritual songs are not the exclusive property of any race, culture or person. Shaylee Faught and the like are confused in their own minds or deceived by the father of lies to think otherwise. Spiritual songs (black or whatever) are songs sung to the true Christian God (not by a godless culture to itself):

    Ephesians 5:19 – Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord

    To claim cultural appropriation here is to deny the most basic understanding of believers who are the church and the body of Christ:

    Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

    I am one with anyone of any heritage who sings from their heart or mind unto our God. I pray that those who disagree find the peace of God which surpasses all understanding..

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