Promoting diversity: is it just the guilt?

Another year, another Brit awards, and more dead white men are winning awards. It’s becoming tedious, celebrating the dead over the living. When will we start putting a lot more effort into our current artists?

This years Brits has arrived. Glamorous entrances by many stars, such as Katy Perry, Little Mix, Robbie Williams and of course, the diversity acts this year (aka grime artists). From my previous posts, you can see the highlighted lack of representations of last years nominees with barely any UK black artists getting nominations, ironically the diverse acts were international acts, another diverse category.

Despite the addition of grime artists such as Skepta, Stormzy and Kano, to the nomination board, none have actually won any awards. Nominating black British artists doesn’t satisfy the need for more representation for our artists. From the depths of the council estates that are now being tarnished by gentrification of the city, city that is rich with different culture, especially the birth of grime culture. Despite the fact that the votes for these categories being public, allowing the majority to choose their winner, it feels almost unfair that these artists don’t win.

Stormzy, nominated for best new comer, lost the award to Rag’n’Bone Man. Congratulations to Rag’n’Bone Man, but I can’t celebrate the win as much. Now, let’s not take the fact that I am a fan of Stormzy to cloud my judgement. It doesn’t feel right to let Stormzy, a person who has literally started from the bottom, accomplishments become diminished. Sold out tours, touring Europe (and even the US), all the festivals he’s played and awards from award-shows that are more diverse. Not everyone is a fan of grime, that is just fact. You would have been expected to get more people cheering the fact that the genre is getting this amazing recognition, right?

The issue not lies with the fact that these artists haven’t won, no. The issue is that the nominations are 40% of the nominations are black artists, with Emeli Sande being the only black artists taking an award home tonight. Regardless, it is a massive achievement for the community and for women. With significantly less white acts being nominated than last years disaster, you’d think that it’d be less of a chance for them to win. Wrong. The effort of black acts working harder than their peers in order to get a signed onto a record label, just generally getting someone to recognise their talent, it goes to show that their more privileged peers will still win.

Performances from Skepta, and a surprise performance of Ed Sheeran x Stormzy definitely took the crowd by storm(zy). To start off, I was pretty disappointed by Skepta’s perfomance. Now, it’s not him. He was great. It’s the constant censoring of his song. The lack of enthusiasm by the audience was astonishing. Almost nobody knew the words, no single soul.  Pretty sure the producers were sweating when they found out Skepta was going to sing his most popular song, Shut Down, with all the censoring the song was almost unrecognisable. Even though one grime artist was ‘shut down,’  best new comer nominee Stormzy surprised us all with a collab with Ed Sheeran. Ed Sheeran is known to be a fan of grime, for him to get Stormzy to perform with him shows massive appreciation to our London culture. The thrilling dichotomy between pop music and grime was executed in the most exhilarating performance we have seen so far at the Brits. The great chemistry between the acts had created a room full of positive energy. Stormzy. once again proving himself the worthy winner of this years Brit Awards.

Let me know your thoughts on this years winners in the comments.

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