Deborah Dugan, the now suspended Recording Academy president and CEO of the Grammy Awards, has outed the organization’s voting process as ‘rigged’ only days before the upcoming awards ceremony. In a 46-page discrimination complaint, Dugan explained the process as being a “blatant conflict of interest,” and alleged that nominated artists were in the room while the voting for their supposed categories occurred. Amid these allegations in Dugan’s complaint, she spoke of sexual harassment, sexism and corruption in the work place.
Dugan described the Recording Academy’s committee as “mostly white, male,” and pointed out the financial incentive of representing artists nominated for the Grammys. Dugan’s documents also included major facts regarding the Grammy Awards. Only 9.3 percent of the nominees in five of the most prestigious Grammy categories from 2013 to 2018 were women; Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, and other major artists of color are routinely snubbed for major awards. In fact, when asked why only one woman had won a solo award broadcast, Dugan’s predecessor, Neil Portnow responded claiming, “women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level” need to “step up.”
When speaking about the Grammys, I always voice a level of frustration. In some ways, it’s become a novelty. In some ways still, however, it’s a major component in the careers of artists. My point is, this shiny award undermines the talents of its nominees. I can point to Frank Ocean, BTS (arguably one of the biggest boy-bands to exist) and Beyoncé losing album of the year for her cultural phenomenon of a record Lemonade. The Grammys, in its 62 years, fails at, even in its attempts, recognizing diversity and inclusion in its program.
In a seemingly racist effort, the Grammys tends to place blacks, amid other people of color, in boxes, relegating them to ‘urban’ or ‘foreign’ categories as if they can’t compete with mainstream white artists. Its been that way for years. Bey’s Lemonade took home best urban contemporary album in 2017, the category that Ocean’s Channel Orange won in 2013, while Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly was awarded best rap album in 2016.
I hope that at some point we can all move past this stressed importance of the Grammys. I don’t doubt the talents of fellow artists such as Adele or Taylor Swift, but it’s impossible to not see the Grammy’s as the racist cesspool it is. Despite it being common knowledge for years, I think the Grammy Awards being outed for their unfair system is a step in the right direction. I don’t want black and brown people or women to base their worths and talent around an institution that intends to marginalize talent, very much so when that institution is not held accountable. It’s hard to answer whether or not the Grammys will ever ‘get it,’ at least believably so. With that being said, it’s only a matter of time before the ceremony is outcasted for their lack of inclusion and the organization (I hope) becomes a thing of the past.
Featured Image via Los Angeles Times