Same script, different cast: How mainstream award shows continuously snub Black artists

Jordan Sheppard | Staff Writer

“For years we’ve allowed institutions that have never had our best interests to judge us, and that stops right now. I am officially starting a clock. Y’all got 365 days to get this together,” said Diddy as he accepted the Clive Davis Icon Award, at Clive Davis’ annual Pre-Grammy Gala. 

Outraged by the treatment of black artists by the award show, the three-time Grammy winner threatened to boycott if the Recording Academy doesn’t seek to make change within the next year.

Coming just days after the Recording Academy’s former CEO and President, Deborah Dugan, had alleged that the Grammys’ nomination system is rigged, the award show has begun to take a lot of heat. 

Tyler, the Creator, who took home the trophy for Best Rap Album for his LP Igor, also had a few words on the treatment of black artists. 

In a backstage interview, Tyler stated that while he was grateful for the award, he does not appreciate how the Grammys always place black artists in “rap or urban categories” no matter how “genre-bending” their records are.

For decades, the Grammys have placed black artists within the R&B and rap categories and rarely give them the chance to take home any of the four major categories: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist.

It appears that no matter how many times black artists try to expand and step outside the box, the Grammys will continue to keep them within that box, refusing to see them as anything else other than R&B and rap. 

However, the problem isn’t the Grammys alone; it is almost every major award show. The Oscars, Emmys and Golden Globes also have had histories of snubbing black talent. 

This year, the same conversation is being had with the Oscars on their lack of diversity.

Cynthia Erivo, nominated for Best Actress for her role as Harriet Tubman, is the only black actor or actress to be nominated for an acting role.

At the Golden Globe Awards, Eddie Murphy, Erivo and Billy Porter were the only black actors nominated, and none walked away with a trophy.

Every time award season comes around, the same conversation is had.

Before the nominations, it’s always the suspense of who is going to get nominated. Then once the nominations come out, reality sets in again when you don’t see the presence of many faces of color. 

While these awards shows have prestige and look great on a resume, they are gauges for success. So why must we look to these awards to seek validation?

Nina Simone, Nas, Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson are just a few of the many who have received the nominations but never the Oscar, Emmy or Grammy. But they are legends whose legacy have carried on and will continue to carry on for decades to come.

Not saying that you can’t have the dream of winning an Emmy or Grammy, but understand that it does not take away from any accomplishments if you don’t have one.

Then there’s the conversation on creating black award shows.

They already exist.

The Soul Train Music Awards, NAACP Image Awards and BET Awards were created to help celebrate black excellence, but now the support for them is lacking from the community to which they were trying to help.

We need to step back from these mainstream award shows and start supporting the ones that are there to see us win. 

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