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TUC Black Workers Conference Supports Drill Music, Rejects Discrimination Against Black Artists

The Musicians’ Union is delighted that the TUC Black Workers Conference voted to support music education in schools and end discrimination against drill artists.

Microphone closeup
Microphone. Photograph: Renato A Silva, Shutterstock

Music has often been the focus of moral panic to distract from deeper issues in society. The most recent genre used as a distraction is drill music.

Drill tracks and videos have been cited as evidence of violent intent in several court cases in the last 18 months. In that time, the Met police has ordered YouTube to remove at least 30 drill videos.

Drill has become the UK music industry’s hot potato, just as punk was in the Seventies, acid house in the late Eighties and grime in the Noughties.

This focus on drill music follows a long history of racial bias in the criminal justice system. Form 696 deprived grime artists of opportunities to build a career in music. The censorship of drill may do the same.

Music as self-expression

Moving the MU’s motion to TUC Black Workers Conference, delegate Linton Stephens said, “Young people and music have been synonymous with one another throughout every generation and, for some reason, we remember our own youth with rose tinted glasses as if this rebellion never existed in our time.”

“Music and artistic self-expression are a reflection of, and not a cause of, the individual socio-economic experience,” he continued.

“The Government’s diversion tactic to continually blame music of black origin as a contribution to the cause of the rise in outcrops of violent or anti-social behaviour demonises the young black community and suppresses their voice,” Linton explained.

Linton also highlighted the impact of education cuts on students and teachers.

Tackling youth violence

Cuts to music education in particular – which have left children from low-income backgrounds half as likely to learn an instrument – are limiting the opportunities children and young people get to be creative. This is despite evidence that music can boost creativity, confidence, leadership and conflict resolution skills.

The MU’s motion calls on the TUC to lobby Government to abolish the EBacc, increase school funding, and invest in youth led youth services.

We are delighted that it passed unanimously, with speakers in support from the BECTU section of Prospect, GMB and NASUWT.

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Published: 17/04/2019
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