#GrammysSoWhite: The Music Industry’s Race Problem

On Sunday, February 12, the 59th annual Grammy Awards took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. A Grammy award is known for being the highest honor an artist can achieve in the music industry.

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However, in years of late, the awards ceremony has been criticized for its alleged racial biases. During the 2014 Grammy Awards, Macklemore won a grammy for best rap album of the year, though many people anticipated it going to Kendrick Lamar. In fact, Macklemore sent a text message to Lamar lamenting his win and saying, “I wanted you to win… I robbed you.”

In the larger music industry, Taylor Swift beat out Beyonce during the 2009 Video Music Awards, which prompted rapper Kanye West to make an impromptu speech contesting Taylor Swift’s win. Consciousness of this preference for white artists over black artists entered the stagelight during last year’s Oscars, where winners were overwhelmingly white. This led to the creation and proliferation of the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.


This year, history repeated itself. The Grammys’ alleged racism reveals itself in the cases of Adele, Beyonce, and Rihanna who respectively were nominated in five, nine, and eight categories.

The coveted Album of the Year award, contested between Beyonce and Adele, was presented to the latter singer. Adele, in her own victory speech said, “I can’t possibly accept this reward” and confessed backstage that she “thought it was [Beyonce’s] year.”

By the end of the night, Adele had won five grammys and Beyonce, two. In what many viewers depict as a complete snub, Rihanna won zero awards despite being nominated in eight categories.       

This turn of events prompted the #GrammysSoWhite hashtag on social media avenues everywhere. Awareness is the first step to change. #OscarsSoWhite can attest to that as it prompted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to commit itself to more racial diversity in its film award nominations. Only time will tell if the old-skewed and traditional Recording Academy can provide any recourse for its problem with racial inclusion.                 

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