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There are 5 comments on Why Policing the Way Voices Sound Has to Stop

  1. Congratulations to Christine Hamel on the publishing of this timely and powerful look at the way we listen to and teach each other—challenging steps toward a truly inclusive vocal pedagogy.

  2. Do you people ever stop thinking about race? You’re making it worse by encouraging people of color to constantly be projecting the idea that everyone is racist. Most people don’t care about color, cannot we just treat everyone the same?

    1. Are you a person of color? I can tell you that for people of color, they don’t have a choice but to worry, in a new surrounding, if the people around them are racist. And by saying “most people don’t care about color” you are acting as if there is no problem in our society. Much of the racist problems in our society are unconscious biases, not conscious choices. While you are correct that most people aren’t choosing to be racist, by not actively choosing to not be racist they are conforming to social norms and the racist biases that come with them.

      What Hamel is saying is that people of color may have to sound a certain way when surrounded by certain people, and talk differently at home (more accented) and at work (more American). If one such person was then told to talk the way they talk at home everywhere else, they might come across as foreign or uneducated leading them to be subjected to prejudice and racial bias, conscious or, more likely, unconscious coming from our general perception of people with such accents.

  3. What you’re describing is something many person with regional accents might have to deal with. That is, the stereotypes that come with sounding a certain way that is not mainstream. Take as an example a white person from the rural south who might be steroetyped as uneducated and simple-minded (I am guilty of this type of bias myself). All people have all kinds of advantages and disadvantages to overcome – it’s part of being human: welcome to the real-world. There was a time when being black truly meant that the system – every facet of it – was rigged against you. It was not an abstract concept. You didn’t have to look for evidence. It was a tangible, everyday reality. “Unconcious bias” on the other hand as an explanation for success or failure in life is really dubious, when there are so many factors at play in today’s America, when literally everything has changed regarding race in the past half century.

    It is a extremely narrow-minded, and simplistic to hyper-focus on race. Not only to hyper-focus on race but of the race of just 2 groups – black and white – in the most diverse and multi-cultural society in history and to ascribe all the ills and disparities to a “unconcious bias” only between these 2 groups.

    I agree with the person saying “do you ever stop to think about race?” By constantly, obsessing over race in a society that is desperately trying to make up for historical racial injustices in ever corner, at every turn, like no other society has ever tried do to, you are helping to insure that we will never get past race and never actually find solutions to help all people who – for instance – live in poverty. You’re helping to insure that bogus issues of identity remain front and center as the explanation of all the serious problems in the black community, while ignoring poverty from other racial groups. Did you stop to think that maybe, just maybe, a non-racialized view and solutions that help poor people in general might actually help black people the most as well?

  4. Susan Sankin: For the people who come to see me, they’re unhappy with their speech. They don’t like the way they sound. They sound tentative to themselves. They sound unsure to themselves as well, and they feel that when they present themselves that it sounds as if they lack confidence, even though they’re very capable, and they know that they have the capacity to sound better, more confident, more assured with some help. They just have developed a speech pattern that’s a habit, and they don’t know how to break out of it. When we present ourselves, the way we speak is our verbal image. Much as the way people in the professional world typically don’t go to work in sweats and a t-shirt, they are more concerned about how they present themselves, a lot of the clients that come to see me are concerned about how they’re presenting themselves verbally.

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