Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Respect for your recent open invitation to address the socio-politics of the scene(s) at Jazz Right Now.

In that invitation, you mention the recent “Robert Glasper controversy.”

To (briefly) review: the pianist Glasper is a black man who said something misogynist and sexist in a recent interview. The interview was with the pianist Ethan Iverson, a white man who played along with and published Glasper’s statement. When called on it, Iverson defended himself with what was for many a mealy-mouthed insistence that he is a feminist and a liberal (rendering, for me, the former meaningless while underscoring the insidiousness of the latter). Iverson was then exposed by a male peer to have published exactly zero interviews with women. Among several attempts at explaining & exonerating himself, including a link to an essay written in his defense by his wife, Iverson offers a list of his feminist credentials. And he points at Donald Trump. A lot. And “the left.” It’s weird.

At any rate: this should not be called the Robert Glasper controversy. Glasper said an awful thing; Iverson demonstrated & defended structural inequality. When we call this the Glasper controversy, we cast the black man who said something wrong as the ultimate problem. In fact, it is Iverson who operated at the structural level & it is he who should be held to ultimate account. Without overlooking Glasper’s problematic remarks – an actually feminist interviewer would have interrogated the remarks right there – and without overlooking the steps Iverson may be taking toward accountability, we can safely call this the Iverson Controversy and not continue to cast black men in the role of sole wrong-doer while white men get to inhabit the role of well-intentioned makers of honest mistakes.

Peace,
Keir Neuringer

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