Chris White Supremacy


Chris White is a college professor who has written a post for Slate making the absurd claim that referring to well known composers by their last names is a form of white supremacy.

Musicians, academics, and teachers have a lot of work ahead to confront the racist and sexist history of classical music. Fullnaming composers, especially those who have been elevated to mononymic status by this complicated history, will challenge us to at the very least afford the same respect to all of the individuals whose music we talk and write about.

Uh, no. If I say that I’m listening to a piece by Mozart and don’t use a first name, it’s a reasonable assumption that I’m referring to Wolfgang Amadeus and not his father Leopold who was also an accomplished composer. If I refer simply to Bach, I probably mean Johann Sebastian and not Carl Philip Emmanuel, Johann Christian, or any of the senior Bach’s other musically talented children. This has nothing to do with race; it’s about stature and importance as musicians.

Similarly, if I refer to President Johnson, it’s a safe bet I don’t mean Andrew Johnson unless the context deals with his administration or Reconstruction.

BTW, Joplin and Ellington were unavailable for comment.

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