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Music scholar calls black Communist dad racist for liking white composers

Thanks his white mom for teaching him ‘true tenets of anti-racism and anti-sexism’

A scholar and guest lecturer at Oberlin College reiterated his views that his black father was a racist for liking classical music.

Professor Philip Ewell is a music theory professor at Hunter College of the City University of New York and previously claimed his dad exhibited racism by liking “Bach,” though it is unclear which one he meant.

Now Ewell is making clear that his dad, who, according to Ewell, “believed deeply in the tenets of Communism,” was a racist for liking classical music in general.

Ewell guest lectured at Oberlin and recently conducted an interview with the campus paper. He criticized his dad for being committed to “assimilation.

“He wore tweed coats and drove a Mercedes he couldn’t afford — he was doing the things that whiteness teaches us, makes us more sophisticated and more civil,” Ewell told The Oberlin Review for a February 10 article. “In terms of music, that meant listening to Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin and going to the opera and buying a pair of opera glasses to look at the stage.”

Liking music and dressing well is how his dad bought into “white supremacy,” according to Ewell.

He stated:

That’s what whiteness has taught about what great music should be. My dad bought that hook, line, and sinker. He was extremely committed to what whiteness teaches us is “excellence.” As part of a white supremacist patriarchal structure, he was being taught to love Rachmaninoff, to go to the opera and watch Verdi, and somehow think that would make him a better person. White supremacy teaches us that there is a mythological goal of excellence.

Ewell told the Review that his white Norwegian mother helped him become a better, more conscious person.

He told the campus newspaper:

I often say that while it was my dad who got me started in classical music because he was a big classical music fan, it was actually my mom who taught me the true tenets of anti-racism and anti-sexism. She was a white Norwegian who came over to the country in 1959 and married my father, who was African-American, in 1960. She didn’t have the baggage that whiteness has in our country. She just kind of came here and fell in love with a Black guy.

The Yale Daily News previously interviewed Ewell after he won an award from Yale University. The paper reported that the scholar explained how “concentric circles of white supremacy” can be seen not just in the Ku Klux Klan’s “burnt crosses on lawns” but also “a Black man’s deification of Bach.”

MORE: Professor says using composers’ last names is ‘white supremacy’

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.