t’s no new news that awards shows have had little to no diversity in nominations and prizes. After the Oscars in 2016, the backlash from both actors and actresses of color and social media in general brought so much attention to this issue (with the hashtag #oscarssowhite) that it seemed like great strides would be taken to include more diversity. However, with the most recent Grammys, Beyonce’s loss in the “Album of the Year” category was a slap in the face to many. The new hashtag #GrammysSoWhite appeared and people called this Grammys a “show about borders” – who can cross, who can’t and who doesn’t bother trying.
Besides the most recent snub to Beyonce, whose album “Lemonade” is rife with political statement and commentary on being black in America, other artists have already vocalized their displeasure. For years, Kanye West has said that black artists are marginalized and mistreated in nominations for the main Grammy categories. And in 2014, Macklemore apologized to Kendrick Lamar through text after winning the Grammy for best rap album. In fact, more and more artists are not even submitting their albums for consideration for the Grammys, including Macklemore and Frank Ocean.
Although Beyonce has won 22 Grammys, only four of them have been in all-genre categories. In fact, she has lost “Album of the Year” three times – to Beck, Taylor Swift, and Adele, all white artists with mainstream albums. Whereas “Lemonade” brought black culture to the forefront of pop culture, Adele’s “25” is a classic feel-good, sing your heart out kind of album – and one that the voting members of the Grammys would skew towards voting. While Adele’s album was amazing, it’s safe to say that everyone knew that Beyonce should have won, and that the Grammys really missed out on a chance to be progressive and set an example for the rest of the industry.
The backlash from the Grammys and #OscarsSoWhite from 2016 really showed up this year at the Oscars – beginning with the blue ribbons worn by the likes of Lin Manuel Miranda, Karlie Kloss, and many more. These ribbons represent support for the American Civil Liberties Union, or a group that works to “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” This year’s Oscars already looked promising, with the nominations including more diversity than before. With Viola Davis winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, she is now the first black actor/actress to win an Oscar, Emmy, and Tony. The movie “Hidden Figures” – about the brilliant African-American women who worked at NASA to launch astronaut John Glenn into orbit – was also given a nod by the voting members of the Academy with a nomination for Best Picture. Furthermore, in a wild turn of events, after “La La Land” was misread as winning Best Picture, the film “Moonlight” – a drama about a black man’s life in the South – actually received the award.
Thus, with the current racial and political climate, it is heartening to finally see some change in the awards industry, even with the mishap of the Grammys.