So many excellent points here that I won’t even attempt to comment on all of them. You’re very right about practice — something I still tell my kids regularly at 18 and 20!

You’re certainly right about the complexities of race and the need to listen and practice. I have spent a whole lot of time listening for a lot of years, and still learn new aspects regularly (and the discussion becomes more sophisticated and nuanced, as well). As a white person, I feel there are some differences in approach between us. I have to listen more just to hear the notes and probably always will, simply because the issues don’t hit me in the face on a daily basis in the same way they do you.

But more than that, I feel that as a member of the oppressing group, I have a responsibility to speak out whether I get every note right or not. Of course in this area you are YoYo Ma and it’s more my job to listen and support, but even the support requires some practice. I have on occasion been tone deaf even as I was attempting to be supportive, and I am grateful to those who were kind enough to explain and help me grow. But I guess part of practice is also being willing to apologize when one’s errant notes hurt others’ ears! Still other times, typically in most- or all-white settings, I have to pretend to be YoYo Ma and jump right in to do the right thing even if it’s imperfect.

Where I struggle? Allowing grace to those who refuse to practice or actively fight it. Those who have no desire to improve. Sometimes there is musicality in them that they were unaware of, and they simply needed someone to help them hear it. Most of the time, though, those who are disinterested (can we just say racist) will scoff at one’s efforts — and I’m being kind in my word choices! How does one let go of the anger or even fear? I ask you in particular, as I have sometimes asked Clay Rivers, as you both are far more kind and understanding than I can manage. This is something I’ve tried to practice, but there’s clearly no natural talent!

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