Friday, January 31

India.Arie Pens "Open Letter" On Grammy Awards & Racism

by: April D. Byrd

The 56th Annual Grammy Awards caused a big stir in the entertainment industry as usual. The residual buzz surrounding Beyonce's titillating thong and Kendrick Lamar's surprising snub is just a smidgen of the controversy that has kept the Award's show in the headlines.

Singer and Performing Artist India.Arie is standing out a bit more substantially and making her voice heard. The songstress wrote an open letter about the small amount of honor and support the Grammy's has shown to R&B and Hip Hop artists. India refused to let the awards show off the hook for behavior she refers to as racist.

The singer wrote these words (below) via her personal tumblr:

@Kendricklamar WAS robbed, BUT he was not the only one who was robbed. Personally, I was pleased he was able to perform and they KILLED! IT! One of the FEW moving moments of the night for ME.

Though it’s called “Music industries biggest night” the #Grammys are NOT about the music, it’s a popularity contest. The voting process allows people, to vote on name recognition alone - the music industry politics is a whole NUTHER conversation.  Too much to go into here.

The American Music Awards is a show that awards sales and popularity - the #Grammys are SAID to be about the music. If the hip hop community voted on hip hop -  r&b COMMUNITY the same -  same for each category - we’d see winners that reflect the MUSIC ITSELF. We all know that’s just not the way it goes. 

NOW the BIGGER losers, are ALL of black music. Where was the black music community represented in last nights #Grammy show? Performers and Winners (or not) … Where were the black artists?
And this isn’t the first time the #Grammy’s has had a show all but excluding young black America and black artists in general, although we set the worlds musical trends. Why NOT televise the lifetime achievement awards of the Isley Brothers? SURELY they deserved to be on televised stage LAST NIGHT! While other artists were on stage TWICE?

The truth is in a perfect world diversity would matter, and respect would be rampant, but the TRUTH is, The #Grammys is a television show, and in THAT world ratings reign supreme.  So, in general, bigger names take the stage, and sadly the biggest names often times ARE BIGGER drawn along racial lines from the release of an album. i.e. marketing dollars, and just general support.  It’s unfortunate.

I don’t even get surprised any more, but, it still hits my sense of fairness, because I KNOW many of the artists who are overlooked. I LIVE in that world. We keep showing up and subjecting ourselves to the game, hoping MAYBE we’ll win. I was so HAPPY to see @Kendricklamar take that stage - because it is a FORM of winning, at LEAST, he was SEEN.

Speaking of diversity, congratulations to my PERSONAL favorite albums of the year -  @I_GregoryPorter #LiquidSpirit @Realsnarkypuppy and @lalahhathaway on your win and THANK YOU! @pharrell for acting RIGHT in the presence of the greatness that is @Nilerodgers and #StevieWonder
Love to all #SoulBirdsWorldWide


P.S. No mention of Nelson Mandela at ALL? … and THIS is why we NEED the Image Awards AND the BET awards.

Does India.Arie have a point?  What did you think about the Grammy Awards this year?


Jackie Glasgow said...

Ms India.Arie telling the TRUTH; & so eloquently said. After an hour of being bored and not represented, I turned the tv to watch Downton Abbey- at least the writing and acting is good.
I've long since realized that best part about the award shows is the "red carpet"

Marco Felvus said...

Remember that to tolerate someone is a step away from being disgusted with them, but nurturing is a process that starts with accepting, supporting, appreciating and finally celebrating. I am ashamed, as a white guy that this show has chosen to tolerate artists that are black. There are genetically 46 skin colours, why don't we treat them like hair or eye colours? Thanks for taking a stance India Arie. You are not your hair, the colour of your eyes or colur of your skin- your just a person to be celebrated because of your talent.

Anonymous said...

what about pharrell and Stevie wonder performing? or the fact that ll cool j hosted?

Anonymous said...

What does Nelson Mandela have to do with music? He was a political figure...

April Byrd said...

Jackie Glasgow I love Downton Abbey! Interesting viewpoint Marco Felvus! @anonymous what about Pharrell and that hat? lol. @anonymous idk about the Nelson Mandela thing! He made a great impact though!:)

Marco Felvus said...

To the 2 anonymous peeps that posted above. Your view is not uncommon, especially if you (and I am assuming you do) identify as a power group (ie- white, straight, male, white collar/employed, affluent community, etc). My advice is, instead of thinking how you are not being racist think of how you are. You are the first ones to stand up for your rights, but the last one to sit down when minorities rights are being stood up for.