The Grant Hagan Society is a graduate-student led affinity group to support people of color in the Yale Department of Music. We are deeply invested in the racial and ethnic diversity of the students and faculty of the department, as well as diversity broadly construed (gender, sexuality, [dis]ability, class, religion, etc.). The Grant Hagan Society strives to help foster a sense of camaraderie among people of color within the field of music studies, as we believe that belonging to an inclusive community contributes in important ways to a successful career path after graduate school, whether in the academy or beyond.
About our mission statement
One of the central difficulties in creating a coalitional group around person-of-color identity is that defining who exactly is a person of color is not at all straightforward. The Grant Hagan Society does not seek to gatekeep the term. Rather, we recognize two important types of experience, which may or may not overlap:
- Being perceived by others as non-white, or as a racial or ethnic minority.
- Identifying oneself, for any number of reasons, with a minoritized racial or ethnic group.
While it is common for these two experiences to overlap, our society also embraces those who fit one of these categories but not the other. Someone who does not personally identify as a person of color but is nonetheless adversely affected by the racial landscape of our field and culture (i.e. category 1 but not 2) is still someone whom we hope our activities will benefit, while someone who identifies as a person of color but is not routinely recognized as such (i.e. category 2 but not 1) is someone for whom we hope to provide a space for the comfortable discussion of their sense of identity and how it fits into our field and culture.
“Person of color” is a label with a complex history that is invoked alongside its usage. Moreover, it is a term that remains controversial for a number of reasons. For instance, a recent Wired magazine article entitled “What We Get Wrong About ‘People of Color’” critiques contemporary usage of the label, writing: “Even the most well-meaning, the most progressive among us blindly tack the phrase onto cultures as varied as the rainbow. In doing so, we turn the plural into the singular, an action that betrays all the ways we have come to understand contemporary identity.” To universalize a wide range of lived experiences is indeed a dangerous maneuver. However, the GHS believes that the label “person of color” can be employed in ways that celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of its membership rather than necessarily collapse its membership into a singularizing identity. In working towards this goal, the GHS is committed to fostering a space in which members can feel comfortable discussing their individual backgrounds and sharing stories of their personal experiences. We recognize that our members will have experienced differing forms of marginalization, and that in certain ways members can relate in their experiences but in other important ways they can not. But as an alliance, the GHS seeks to highlight this multiplicity of experience in its actions and vision for a more equitable climate in music academia.