It’s been over 4 months since the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis. For CJ and Sunny, co-founders of The Musical Autist, the death of George Floyd, Ahmed Aubrey, Breonna Taylor and countless other Black Lives has grieved and shaken us to our cores. We’ve been quiet all summer, and we want to extend our deepest apology to any reader who perceived our quietness as white silence. We’ve been quiet because things have been changing internally within our organization, and we’re finally in a place of moving forward.
For Sunny, CJ and the rest of our Board, we are striving for The Musical Autist to be anti-racist in all that we say and do. It’s never too late to speak out and do the right thing and that’s what we’re doing now. We want TMA to stand for cultural humility, accessibility, diversity and inclusion, in every aspect of our community. We condemn police violence and stand in solidarity and support of the Black community in these history-making times.
For the past few months we’ve needed to take some time to look inward, not just to figure out how we’re moving forward in this new era of Covid, but to explore how the intersections of racism and ableism impact us as an organization and all that we aim to do through our mission. Our minds are particularly focused on how Black Disabled Lives Matter. We feel called to advocate for Black Disabled Lives. We’ve been inspired to reimagine our way forward as an organization by elevating the stories and music of Black Disabled Musicians.
2020 has been pretty tough on us, and just about every other person on this planet. By the end of March, we had already hit a pretty worrisome place about moving forward as an organization without offering two of our primary programs, Sensory Friendly Concerts and Empowerment Jam Sessions. At least for our Troupe program, we’re grateful that we had a seamless transition to “Zoom Troupe” within the first week of quarantine shutdown. And we’re grateful that this new online platform has allowed people to join us from all over the country. But with only one out of our three programs operating for the foreseeable future, this caused us to question how we can “pivot” while staying crystal clear on our mission and vision – to create access to the arts and platforms for self advocacy.
And here we are at a pivotal moment.
We want to introduce you to our newest initiative and program: Elevating Autistic Musicians.
If you are reading this post, chances are you’re either an autistic musician yourself, or you know someone who is. Now imagine an autistic musician who is looking for paid work to perform. Who wants nothing more in life than to get their music out into the world. Even in non-covid times this is a daunting goal, even for neurotypical musicians. Think of the intimidating challenges of trying to break into the broader national music business or even within a smaller local music scene, whether it be in restaurants, clubs, churches, community centers or assisted living. Think about all the support and mentorship that an autistic musician could benefit from, if they could find a fellow autistic musician who is a few steps further down the road than they are. Envision a platform that could provide the music promotion, networking and skill building needed for a career as a musician.
Elevating Autistic Musicians. This is what we want to do next and how we are moving forward.
This is everything we are thinking about lately. All through the lense of social, disability and racial justice. More soon! We are getting back in the saddle with our social media presence and have lots more to share.
CJ and Sunny
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