On Sunday evening, PYSO was joined by special guest, Rebekah Diaz, a certified Diversity Executive candidate with training in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University. Ms. Diaz gave a presentation addressing Equity, Diversity, and the Arts. Ms. Diaz is no stranger to the music business, being a graduate of CMU and later receiving her Masters in Voice at the Manhattan School of Music.
Ms. Diaz’s presentation broke down a number of thought provoking and sometimes challenging ideas, emphasizing the fact that even though some of these discussions can be difficult and uncomfortable, the overall goal is to make positive and sustainable changes in the way we view the world around us.
The presentation began with defining some commonly used terms in a more tangible way. After discussing what diversity, inclusion, equity, and accessibility mean in a practical sense, Ms. Diaz provided a number of exercises and questions to help think about these terms in the orchestral world.
The conversation dug deeper, examining what microaggressions and biases are, and where they come from. Equity was addressed in examining the historical aspects of various groups of people, and how these factors have skewed who has access to certain things.
Ms. Diaz emphasized that although these topics are difficult, it is important to be able to talk about them without trying to place the blame on someone, and focus on the reality of the situation in order to grow and move forward.
The session ended with a healthy and constructive discussion between Ms. Diaz and PYSO students exchanging ideas and questions on how to make changes to our everyday lives, including using more inclusive language, challenging any biases we may have, and being aware of these things so that we can make changes over time.
Thank you so much to Rebekah Diaz for such a thoughtful and helpful presentation!