A Call for Radical Imagining: Exploring Anti-Blackness in the Music Therapy Profession


  • Marisol Samantha Norris




Black feminist theory, anti-Blackness, Radical Imagining, Black communities


This spotlight presentation explores the relationship between anti-Black violence and music therapy. Centering the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, George Floyd, and Tony McDade, the speaker discusses protests taking place in the United States and throughout the world that demand justice for Black lives. In this presentation, the speaker discusses the interconnectedness of physical and social death as a continuum of oppression the field must contend with to meet social justice aims. Music therapy across the globe is situated within complex socio-political, socio-structural, socio-historical, and socio-cultural systems. It holds the vestiges of White European settler colonialism and is founded upon dominant cultural values and ideals that support its existence and simultaneously benefit and harm client communities. While, as a professional body, we aim to deepen music therapy access and conceptualize empowerment from a social justice frame, we must explore the various ways music therapy leverages proximations of power. Any calls for access and empowerment in music therapy amplify our existence within unjust systems and our participation in their perpetuation in education, theory, research, practice, and praxis. The speaker explores anti-Blackness from a Black feminist lens and discusses the radical repositioning of music therapy as we collectively strive to meet social justice aims.

Author Biography

Marisol Samantha Norris

Marisol Norris is a music therapist and critical arts therapies educator.  She received Bachelor degrees in Psychology and Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from Oakwood College and Master's and doctoral degrees in creative arts therapies with specializations in music therapy at Drexel University. Her music therapy clinical and supervisory experience has spanned medical and community health settings and includes work with adult psychiatric and dually diagnosed populations, adolescents facing homelessness, families within the city court system, and medically fragile children with complex trauma. These experiences have profoundly contributed to her relational-cultural lens of music therapy theory and praxis and her dedication to expanding the understanding of Black clients’ aesthetic music and health experiences. Her research focus includes the role of cultural memory and aesthetics in therapist and client meaning-making processes, pedagogical approaches to music therapy cultural competence training.

Marisol will be joining the College of Nursing and Health Professions' Creative Arts Therapies Department at Drexel University as Director of Music Therapy and Assistant Clinical Professor winter 2021.




How to Cite

Norris, M. S. (2020). A Call for Radical Imagining: Exploring Anti-Blackness in the Music Therapy Profession. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 20(3), 6. https://doi.org/10.15845/voices.v20i3.3167



Position Papers