BC President Sonya Christian hosted the last seminar part of the Learning Together Series

Alexis Delgadillo, Reporter

Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian hosted the final seminar of her Learning Together Seminar Series with the Library with a discussion about the New York Times article “Jazz Has Always Been Protest Music. Can It Meet This Moment?” The seminar took place on April 15.

Members of the Bakersfield College music faculty, Josh Ottum and Kris Tiner, were panelists in this seminar who discussed the article and shared their thoughts on it.

The article from the New York Times was written by Giovanni Russonello. Russonello is a music critic and journalist who covers jazz and improvised music for the New York Times.

The article talks about how in the beginning of the civil rights movement and even before then, jazz was a major outlet for black people to express their suffrage. But with the social unrest and injustice that is happening today with black people, we no longer see jazz playing such a major role. It also discusses the inaccessibility black people have to jazz music today, and how at one time this part of the music industry was heavily dominated by black people. 

“Of the more than 500 students who graduate from American universities with jazz degrees each year, less than 10 percent are Black, according to Department of Education statistics compiled by DataUSA,” Russonello stated in his article.

To kick off the seminar the two panelists wanted to first acknowledge that they are two white men discussing something that affects black people. The author of the article is also a white man, however all three do have experience in music and jazz.

Ottum and Tiner talked about how they feel like the issues stated in the article, like the small percentage of black people in jazz studies, as always being there but that they feel like the problems are just now being addressed. They even talked about the issues with gender that have also been prevalent in the jazz world.

A solution to the problem of disinterest in jazz amongst black kids is “being more integrated in community,” Tiner stated.

He talked about creating a pipeline from the community to the world of education