Since 2018, Jesse Neuman has served as the artist in residence for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart. Using music as a lens to explore the cultural complexity of our world, DEI education asks difficult questions, explodes our preconceptions, and challenges us to view and engage our peers with curiosity and respect. Too often diversity starts and ends with the surface level cliches and obvious spokespersons of x, y, and z theme months or ethnic pot-luck dinners. While these are good starting points, Musicworks approaches DEI with the assumption that students of all ages are poised and willing to tackle tough conversations and open to more expansive perspectives though exposure to quality artists and movements, and carefully moderated discussion.
Musicworks is exploring, amongst other themes, the idea that “WORDS MATTER.” Through a variety of media, teaching artists of different styles, and interactive participation, we touch upon concepts such as anti-bullying via racial integration by Stax record label, torch bearers of contemporary Native American culture like the Young Spirit drum group, female musicians like Helen De La Rosa and Maimouna Youseff and their rejection of dominant male stereotyping, hip-hop wordplay and validating lyrical inventions of urban slang, and the lines between oppression and empowerment surrounding Hijab and punk rock. Above all, DEI seeks to foster healthy dialogue around the human qualities we all share.
"Powerful words are not for us to choose sides, but to try to understand." -Walter Hood, artist + MacArthur Fellow