Dear Music Therapy Ed community, Please see my public apology to Natasha Thomas and the Black Music Therapy Network (BMTN) below. I address you too, even if you’re not part of the BMTN, so please read on:

Dear Natasha Thomas and the Black Music Therapy Network,

My email Tuesday to our Music Therapy Ed community was inexcusable. I am deeply sorry for the harm I caused to your network during this difficult time of racial discrimination, police brutality and systematic racism in our world. Instead of connecting personally 1:1 with any member of the Executive Steering Committee to discuss the content of the email and request permission for your network’s involvement, I made an insensitive and racist decision to remove your organization from the conversation and hit “send.” This is in direct contradiction to our mission at Music Therapy Ed. I literally stripped your network of leadership in the decision-making process. I am both embarrassed and appalled after careful examination of my actions. I also want you to know that the MTE team and I are committed to making it right.

But first I need to make my apology very clear. Tuesday morning I reached out to a member of your Executive Steering Committee to inquire about your network’s 501c3 status. I did not mention in my communications what the purpose of needing this information was, until we had already sent the email. In having already sent the email, I flippantly misrepresented the BMTN.

I believe that I hurt not only the individuals within your network, but our entire music therapy community as a whole. To the BMTN: I am deeply sorry for the hurt that I layered on top of the hurt you feel due to this time of racial discrimination, police brutality and systematic racism in our world. To the music therapy community: I am so very sorry for contradicting our own mission and setting a negative example, demonstrating how lack of awareness of my own biases can cause so much more hurt.

I see how my email caused harm to the BMTN, and for that I cannot express in words my remorse. I am so very sorry. I see how my email misrepresented the BMTN. I see how my neglect in connecting with individuals, neglect in obtaining permission, and neglect in explicitly naming the current racial climate in the email itself, was exploitative to the BMTN. I see how the content of the email amplified (instead of black voices) my white benevolence. I see how encouraging our community to purchase a course was an act of capitalizing on the vulnerability of the community. I see how the BMTN is left to manage my insensitivity at a time when everyone is already so hurt.

Please see Dr. Thomas’s statement and the BMTN’s most recent statement here: https://twitter.com/ExhaleSincerity/status/1268233723285250055

Furthermore I am sorry for these actions: The use of Dr. Thomas’s image was insensitive. Linking the Discover Your Biases process to the current racial climate was insensitive. This is not a time to say “hey we will get through this, just do this exercise and you’ll be ok.” This is a time to reflect, listen, hear the voices that have been muted, and dig much deeper. The BMTN articulates this so well here: https://www.facebook.com/BlackMusicTherapyNetworkInc/posts/586998938602078

I am not confident in anything I’m writing, and I may be missing the mark again. My biggest worry is that this message shines a light on my voice, when it’s a time to shine the light on Black voices. For that I also apologize. The email Tuesday was in poor taste and terrible timing. If you’ve been able to extend me grace for past mistakes and/or this current one, I thank you.

I want our instructors and the community at Music Therapy Ed to feel honored to be a part of our Leaders In Healthcare mission. That is the bottomline, and when I miss the mark then I always want to leave the communication open in negotiating how we can get back to that mission, examine our faults, and do better moving forward.

Dr. Thomas’s statement is here: “I was not consulted regarding, nor did I endorse, the promotion of my course on Music Therapy Ed in relation to any donations to the Black Music Therapy Network during this time. While I believe strongly in the work of BMTN, and serve on their steering committee, I am not comfortable with the timing of the email and the language that was used to promote the course and related content. I ask that any parties interested in supporting my work or the work of BMTN please refer to the statement put out by that network, which can be found here.”

Please also know that this is just the start. Our team is committed to moving forward by making a change, examining our own biases, continuing discussions around racism, and amplifying Black voices – not just this week, but regularly.

Sincerely, Kat
Founder of Music Therapy Ed

Ellen Whealton, instructor

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