Diversity is ALIVE and Well in the World of Acapella – #DadChat #Music

Category: Weekly Columns

Unstrumental - Acapella - Group pose

This photo and all in this column are only of the acapella group, Unstrumental

Diversity is one of those words, like multiculturalism, that I truly dislike because they are so often used in politically correct and foolish ways. For me, it’s like saying, “gender” instead of “sex,” when referring to a man or a woman. What was wrong with just saying “sex?” But, like all things PC, the politically correct segment of our society has horribly corrupted words. Rape now means any sex that a woman regrets afterward INSTEAD of the violent crime that it really is.

Unstrumental - Acapella - around piano

Heck, our POTUS can’t even call Radical Islam or Jihadists by their real names, instead referring to them as simply terrorists and such. CNN referred to the Paris Islamists MURDERERS as “activists!” Sad that we can’t be honest due to the PC police and THOSE “activists” that try and be multicultural without telling the truth!

I’ve often said that the United States is clearly the greatest country of diversity in the world. It always has been and probably always will be! Consequently, it was with great pride and pleasure that I saw TRUE diversity and multiculturalism in action when I attended the LAAF2015 – The Los Angeles Acapella Festival – in Santa Monica, CA recently.

My younger son is in an award-winning acapella group at his high school called, “Unstrumental,” and they were last year’s festival winners, so this year they were the featured performers when the judges were judging. After the competition itself and while the judges were doing their thing, Unstrumental performed for 15 minutes and it was terrific. Enjoy this video from their performance:

But, the point of this column is what I observed about the make-up of the seven acapella groups that performed. Six were competing in the festival while my son’s group was just performing. The average number of members of each group was about 15. One group was all boys, while another was all girls. The rest were divided among the sexes.

Moreover, the make-up of the groups in looks, size, ethnicity, and race was truly wonderful to behold. TRUE diversity in action. Tall, thin, heavy, short, and everything between. What mattered was the talent. The solo performers were chosen, I assume, by their talent. Some were the better looking of the bunch while others were not. NO ONE cared. It was the singing that mattered.

I come from a generation that valued looks and being fit/thin a bit too much, I suspect, so I couldn’t help but notice that a number of the boys and girls were, to put it generously, “not in shape.” But, they displayed a confidence that belied any judgment I might make. My wife observed, possibly correctly, that our kids’ generation doesn’t – I don’t know if this is true – put the same value on the superficial that our generation did.

Unstrumental - Acapella - at the lunch table - Aaron in front with LIzzy

Real life is not always so democratic since the most well known actors and performers tend to be good looking while character actors and some exceptions in popular music may not be on the A-list of beauty. But, at this point in the lives of our children, I think it’s great that these judgments don’t flood their activities.

While I noticed a particular boy or girl may have been less good-looking than another, I also noticed how EVERY one of them performed with NO self-consciousness and EVERY bit of enthusiasm and excitement – exactly the way it should be.

Yes, show business can be harsh and there are few Mama Cass’s (dating myself!) that top the charts or are A-list movie stars. But, there are plenty of great “stars” that don’t fit any set mold.

Unstrumental - Acapella - half the group

Plus, most importantly, less judgment at these formative ages will give our kids more confidence in their adult lives. Too many kids suffer from bullying and other self-esteem issues brought on during Middle School and High School years. Middle School seems a particularly dangerous time for kids today.

My older son was bullied so badly his first year in Middle School and the school was so indifferent, that I pulled him from that school and home-schooled him for the next 18-months. And believe me, I’m no pushover when it comes to expressing myself, but the administration was pathetic I chose to simply take matters in my own hands.

Reality is often harsh. So, yes there will be judgments our kids face based on superficial things, but if we can give them freedom from these judgments for a while, isn’t that better?

  • David Weber

    I don’t know how to describe organizations, communities, countries, etc., in which a variety of identity groups participate, other than “diverse” or “multicultural.”

    To downplay if not ignore the presence of a multiplicity of identities — to gloss over such differences represented among members, or to presume that there is one umbrella-like identity that must be constructed at the expense of others — appears to me to have limited value at best.

    To NOT distinguish between the terms or concepts “sex” and “gender,” when usage, application and construction of meaning makes them distinct from one another–well, that too, I don’t understand the value of.

    As far as diversity goes in the world of a cappella, I can’t comment on that because I am unfamiliar with that world (other than having heard and, from iTunes, purchased a certain amount of a.c. music from college a cappella groups). But from the photos in this article, I certainly don’t infer diversity from the images. I cannot tell from visual input what identities may or may not be represented among the singers. There does not appear to be much diversity in terms of racial identities. I hope that in fact there are a variety of identities constructed by the singers — ethnic, religious, country-of-origin, sexual orientation, and so on — just to give them an opportunity to learn how to construct a space of collaboration beyond identity differences.

    I just re-read the article and unless I am not getting it, the central or pivotal example of diversity was there was a variety of looks — good-looking, less-than-good-looking — and body types. From that perspective you could get that kind of diversity from a major league baseball team in the decades before Jackie Robinson made it to the show!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      As if often the case, @disqus_dU5ulU60s7:disqus – you are correct about the images not showing a vast amount of diversity. Sadly, I only took video of my son’s group but it was seeing all the groups that participated that inspired my thinking. There was, indeed, truly every color of the rainbow represented as well as a diversity of “looks.”

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  • Laura Smyth

    Nope, rape means rape. We don’t need anymore rape denialists on this planet.