Music’s meaning, and music’s healing

The National Black Graduate Student Association held their bi-annual “The Meaning of Music” event last Friday. The event offered students an open opportunity to listen to today’s popular music and analyze the song’s deeper meanings.

The event, held in Armstrong Hall, discussed many problems that are relevant  today, such as issues of race/ethnicity, social justice, and domestic violence. This is the second semester that the NBGSA has been in charge of the event.

According to Morgan Parham, a member of the NBGSA’s executive board, the focus of the event is tailored mainly to the students attending. As hosts of the event, the NBGSA wants to hear the students’ takes on the issues being talked about to get a better understanding on how to tackle them.

“We play a song, and then our host speaks on the significance of the song topics while getting the viewpoints of the students,” Parham said.

One example of an open conversation at a “Meaning of Music” event was the discussion of transgender people, and the validity of their identities.

The group listened to “Love Yourself” by Billy Porter and the cast of “Pose.” Porter depicts the lives and struggles of transgender women in New York City during the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

According to Parham, the open conversation about transgender people, their erasure from history and the violence they faced was very fruitful, educating many in an open, compassionate environment.

“Talking about race and social justice issues in an open and empathetic environment allows student voices to be heard and a stimulating discussion to happen about where we are as a campus when it comes to equality and moving through trauma,” Parham said.

“It helped them to see that the transgender people do not have low self-worth, that they are finally free and confident to live long, full, and happy lives.”

Apart from the inclusion of free food and drinks, Parham believes that students should attend these events because music, especially today’s hits, is a simple way to ease into otherwise touchy conversations.

Music is a perfect way to more comfortably talk about sensitive issues that we struggle with, or that we are desensitized to throughout our lives in general and on campus,” Parham said. 

“We get to unpack the messages in songs that we enjoy on our own but talk about them with our campus community.”

Students on campus come from different backgrounds, but music can unify everyone together, and build the foundations of understanding.

“Not only will music help us to understand others, and work through our own issues we can use it as a tool to join together and find common ground,” Parham said.

Header photo: Bryanna Edwards, pictured above, speaks at “The Meaning Music” conference held in Armstrong Hall last Friday. The event was hosted by the National Black Graduate Student Association, for the second time. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)

Write to Joey Erickson at joseph.erickson.2@mnsu.edu

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