Singer India Arie Puts #Grammys on Notice for Their Perceived Discriminatory Ways

| January 29, 2014 | 3 Comments

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India Arie has never been one to bite her tongue if she felt that there was a wrong that needed to be addressed and after she watched the Grammy Awards like many Americans, she felt the need to voice her opinion about what she classified as unfair representation of black performers and winners at an event the bills itself as “The biggest night in music”.  This begs the question, biggest night for who?

Check out what the singer had to say in the letter below:

@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 @IndiaArie

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

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  1. Landa Gherrá says:

    You’ve addressed a lot here, so I’ll get to the gist of it. Hip Hop, which encompasses Rap in the form of emceeing, was designed as a musical form of self expression for persons that came of age in discriminate and disparaged backgrounds created from the institutions of racism, classicism, and cultural relativity. My issue with the points in your post are as such:

    1. While you get songs like, “Versace” and “Bag of Money”, it calls to the consumerist nature of black Americans as it has been well documented that they (we) spend their currency twice as fast as any other cultures in America. Again, rap is an expression of cultural identity, social, political, and economic experiences. What, a person who lives in poverty can’t at the very least exercise their right to purchase a Versace brand item without facing backlash? Even if its a Christmas gift?

    My counter…look at the Academy Awards, even the Golden Globe Awards. What movies are nominated and win. What movies reap the most financial awards? “Wolf of Wall Street”, “Hangover”,, “Wedding Crasher”, “Project X”, “SuperBad”, “Pretty Woman”, “Scarface”, The Godfather”, and many more were all monumental commercial successes in America and were showcased in larger quantities to a much wider audience. Examine the content of those movies, sex, drugs, embezzlement, fraud, underage drinking,and excessive profanity. But, somehow, those stories, those visualizations, those realities that do exist in America are subject to much less criticism and disdain from detractors. So why so much shade for Rap music which predominately caters to a niche audience? Might issues of race stir up those feelings of whether to attack one for the seemingly same offenses and not the other? You speak of “…the negativity and demeaning imagery in the music…” yet you neglect to use the same scale to admonish ‘THEM’, when they’re profits are through the roofs and are celebrated by most, including the Hip Hop community.

    Furthermore, there are mainstream and underground artists within the Hip Hop community that bring forth positive messages that reflect reality as they see and experience it. Kendrick Lamar exemplified it in a universally recognized classic Rap Album. I haven’t found a person who actually listens to hip hop that believes that Macklemore, for all of his talents, deserved to win that honor. He didn’t himself. It is snubs like those that keep positive artists from gaining that extra push to expand their message via awards at these shows. Without a doubt Section 80 and GKMC were both impeccably crafted albums with much depth. The man pretty much held hip-hop in his hand with a single verse on Big Sean’s “Control” single. I agree with Ms. Aarie, ‘They’, take issue with it, but we need the Jive Awards and Hip Hop Awards and BET Awards so that the talent and the trends that Hip Hop sets for the world are recognized by their peers and the communities that they come from.

    In closing, people really need to stop using the weak assertion that somehow, any 1 person of color (let’s just say black), can somehow move the cause of 13% of a nation forwards or backwards. Let me put this to rest for once and for all. I mean really, if you are that concerned with what comes out of rapper’s lyrics or a video, setting blacks back a few hundred years….REJOICE!!! We have a black American president… That should afford at least 500 thousand years of forward mobility. In hindsight, 200 years back from 500 thousand years is negligible.

    Faithfully yours,

  2. Freddy says:

    When did this become a debate about the state of hiphop? Most people know that mainstream music of almost any genre is it lowest denominator especially content-wise. What is being talked about the loosing out of some very solid hiphop albums ( some of the best in recent years) to basically a pop album. This was a chance to show an album most people enjoyed sonically and content-wise, and thought represented where hiphop is going, to the wider-world, whose perception of the music is narrowed down to what you said in your post.

  3. Michael Scully says:

    As long as we use words like “them”, “us”, “we”, “they”… to describe our (or other) races America will continue to spin it’s wheels concerning descrimination. Who cares what race wins what award? I agree the voting process for everything on television (and otherwise) is skewed. That’s right people everything on television has a hidden agenda. If you don’t like it…don’t watch it. Peace!

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