Why #GrammysSoWhite is bad for Black Artists

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[U.S]–On Sunday, February 12, the Grammy Awards held at the Staples Centre and it was indeed a spectacle.

The performances were memorable – from Bruno Mars’ rapturous Prince tribute to Beyoncé’s visually stunning Osun-inspired ode to pregnancy – there was no shortage of mesmerizing events to behold.

However, of all of this, the major highlight of the night was when the coveted Album of the Year award was to the announced.

From the media coverage leading to the awards, it had been predicted that it was going to be a showdown between Adele’s gazillion-selling comeback album, “25” and Beyoncé’s groundbreaking and pop-culture-defining multimedia work, “Lemonade”.

After Beyonce lost the same award to two white artists previously: in 2010 to Taylor Swift and 2015 to Beck, it was only a matter of time before people began to speak up against the Recording Academy’s decision to give the award to Adele, a white conservative artist, over Beyoncé, a politically liberal black artist with futuristic works. A sickening trend was discovered.

No black woman has won the award since 1999, when Lauryn Hill won for her remarkable “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” and since 2013, albums by white artists have been winning against generally-perceived better albums by black artists.

Infamously, Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” a meditation on the reality of the black folk in light of police brutality and white supremacy, lost last year to Taylor Swift’s “1989”, an album full of generic pop songs about ex-lovers.

And thus, the #GrammysSoWhite hashtag was born. In an attempt to hold the Academy accountable for their racist choices, the internet blew up with the hashtag. The Grammys were accused of awarding white artists over black artists just because of their skin colour.

While the hashtag is definitely a truly remarkable response to the bigoted actions of the Academy, it has dangerous repercussions for black artist.

Should the Academy respond to this, they will do whatever is possible to prove that they are in fact not racist. In turn, they will most likely award a black artist next time, just for the sake of doing so.

And that is a terrible, terrible thing. It creates another trend of voting for someone based on their skin colour, the very phenomenon being tackled in the first place and it all becomes a political fare where nothing is based on merit anymore.

It will not come as a surprise if the Academy awards the best available black album this year, even if it does not meet the kind of quality many black artists have been surpassing in recent years.

But black people do not want to win Album of the Year because of their colour, do they? They want to win regardless of it. the #GrammysSoWhite is unlikely to make that happen.

Also, let us not forget that if they do award the best album by a black artist released this year, it spells doom for future releases by artists of colour.

There will predictably be another drought of Album of the Year gongs for them for another number of years.

After all, the thinking of the Academy will be: Now that we have finally given them what they want, they can wait another five, six years before having another go at it.

Now, what is the way out? Black musicians must make sure they break their way into the Academy so as to even out the playing field.

It will always be a tool for old white men to attempt normalizing their outdated musical tastes if artists of colour do not learn to take back the authority into their own hands.

More and more black artists need to join the Academy and vote, because, let’s face it, an old white dude who grew up listening to blue-eyed soul will always pick Adele over Beyonce, no matter how brilliant the latter’s album is.




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Comments

comments

1 Comment

  1. Amos

    March 2, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    My opinion is that as long as white men whose standard of quality music is music with white origin, it will always be whites. I hate to say it but I
    am hopeless concerning this issue.
    Maybe when black people dominate the academy which may never happen, blacks will have a win.

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