A couple of weeks ago, social media went into an uproar because the Academy Award nominations seemed to include only white people. That is nothing new: a few years ago, #ocarssowhite was trending on Twitter for similar reasons. The end goal of the hashtag was to make the Academy more inclusive, which they were. That lasted about one award season.
The Grammy’s are guilty of this as well. Around the same time as the Oscars’ fiasco, Sean “Diddy” Combs decided to make a speech calling out The Recording Academy on its racist practices. He spoke about black artists contributing heavily to the success of the music industry but said they do not receive the accolades of their white counterparts.
These sentiments are correct; however, the call to action is not. Notice how at certain times, both the academies seemed to take the feedback in and make their nominations and even award recipients more inclusive. The media and their target audience would eat that up and applaud their progressiveness. Their past transgressions are forgotten.
Once they add a little color to their palette, however, they wipe it clean for the following awards cycle. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
It’s the same old song and dance. We beg these majority white academies to recognize the talent that everyone sees. Because they’re focused on maintaining their status, they will throw a bone, only to go back to their old ways the second the pressure lets up.
The “they give awards to black people” argument holds no weight when they don’t consistently do it. With the amount of black talent out here, there’s no reason for the lack of regularity.
The people asking for acknowledgment looks like a dog begging its owner for scraps. The owner and his people get to gather around at a table and feast. The dog gets its scraps, but it will never be equal to its master and his cronies.
The answer isn’t to continue begging to be recognized by these institutions. They already showed us who they were the first time and how they really operated. They proved multiple times that they would only give black performers the recognition they deserve to shut up them up.
In any situation where the level of disrespect is that blatant, you pick yourself up and go to where you are appreciated. If the majority-white academies want to honor their counterparts, then black performers and artists need to do the same. We need to have our own committees and awards to guarantee we get recognition.
Oh wait, there are already awards for that. There are the BET Awards and the Soul Train Awards, which makes sure that black artists are given their due. However, the general public often considers these award ceremonies to be an embarrassment. They are the butt of plenty of jokes and memes across social media. For many artists, these awards feel like participation ribbons compared to a Grammy or an Oscar.
For example, R&B artist Omarion pitched a fit back in 2014 when his comeback single “Post to Be” failed to receive a Grammy, but he was on mute when the Soul Train Awards gave him an award for it. He didn’t even attend the ceremony.
It’s about time for black performers to put their own accolades on the same pedestal they put those from these majority-white institutions. There should be no reason why a black celebrity stops going to and supporting black award shows once they reach a certain status. You can’t demand a level of respect from the academies and then treat your own like garbage. The academies still aren’t respect you either way.
It’s also time for black artists, actors, writers and creators to stop begging or expecting to be included in these circles and awards. It’s time for black artists to create their own content and make sure it gets the spotlight it deserves. It’s time for them to start carving their own lane and recognize themselves exclusively. Why beg someone to join their space only to be told, “You can’t sit with us!” or be cast aside to the corner somewhere? That’s not the way to be uplifted and honored. This goes for regular black folks, too. Go where you’re celebrated.
This editorial was written by a member of the editorial staff and reflects the general opinion of The Spectator.