Grief. Doubt. Frustration. Heartbreak.
These are all emotions that were pulled out of my heart when I first watched/listened to Lemonade – Beyonce’s 2016 audiovisual masterpiece which chronicles a black woman’s struggles through love and life. What Beyonce shared with the world was not only the raw emotion captured in song and creative art. Lemonade was a statement to the music industry of it’s ever changing landscape on how the world wants and sees music. Lemonade was set to win the Best Album of the Year. Yet the GRAMMYs decided on another winner. Here are 3 reasons why that is total bullshit.
WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT? The GRAMMYs literally have an urban contemporary category. Sure, let’s throw all the amazing colored artists into one category so they have a chance at a Grammy. Do you understand how patronizing that feels? And yes as an aside, Beyonce being recognized by the colored community via BET awards is great and well deserved. But people of color recognizing people of color for excellence will never match the validation of an internationally known industry standard like what the GRAMMYs have become. People of color are held down by their own oppression – stuck in a circle of handshakes and back pats from the wrong people.
“It’s important to me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty so they can grow up in a world where they look in the mirror — first through their own families, as well as the news, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the White House and the Grammys — and see themselves.” – Beyonce Knowles
This woman speaks to her children for this win. She looks to the generations of people of color that would look up and see a person of color win an award for a album. We aren’t talking about equality anymore. This is about EQUITY.
Words spoken by Album of the Year winner Adele during the Q&A session post-win. Imagine, even the WINNER OF THE BEST ALBUM OF THE AWARD KNOWS THAT IT SHOULDN’T HAVE GONE TO HER! You know what the Grammys taught us on Sunday? It’s no longer about the best music. It’s no longer about art. You can completely change the music game – push boundaries, create a media frenzy from your album drop, positively affect the outlook of millions, perform at the Grammys as a lit-er-al goddess (and kill it). And if you are a person of color, you will never be enough. What an awful, backward message to be sending the millions of supporters of this award show.
Spoken by the queen herself at the end of her performance, Beyonce declares “1000 girls raise their arms.” This statement was meant to be a declaration to stand up and fight against the injustices of today’s world. Instead here we are again, on the public stage, using it to tell people of color that you have to fight twice as hard to get what you want. As Malcom X said, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman.” Whether you are a single mom working two jobs, an entrepreneur running a business, or Beyonce herself, your excellence will always be looked at with greater judgment. I truly applaud Beyonce’s patience for this bullshit – for her ability to rise above the blatant display of inequity. It is something all people of color must keep in their arsenal from now until things change. Rise above defeat and come back stronger. Clap and cheer in the face of discrimination. Pronounce your greatness even without recognition. This is the world we live in. This is what people of color all need to do to both survive but also thrive in this world.
To anyone who minimizes this issue, they aren’t seeing the whole picture. People always say being nominated is a win in itself. But when winning means changing the outlook of millions of people of color to feel that they are included in popular culture, seen and heard, and that they are recognized for their artistic excellence by a world renown industry institution, WINNING MEANS EVERYTHING.