Back in 2009 at some music award show, Kanye West (who is black) charged the stage during (white) Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech to announce — “I’mma let you finish, but” — that (black) Beyonce deserved to win instead.
Since then, it has become increasingly common for white award-winners to preemptively apologize from the stage to black losers for the obvious racial injustice of their victories, such as Macklemore to Kendrick Lamar a few years ago and Adele to Beyonce last night at the Grammy Awards (which pretty much kept the Oroville Dam off the national news).
Adele’s apology still didn’t keep the LA Times from running this op-ed about how blacks don’t win enough awards:
Op-Ed Beyoncé’s Grammy snub and the glass ceiling on black artShouldn’t all awards just come with a Best Black category so that blacks are assured of always winning something?
Beyoncé and Adele went head-to-head four times at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night. Both were nominated for album of the year, song of the year, record of the year, and best pop solo performance. In every category, Adele was awarded the Grammy. Every time, Beyoncé, the peerless pop music icon of our time, was told she was second-best.
This should be a shock. While Adele’s singular voice, talent, and devotion to her craft are undeniable, Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” was as complete an artistic statement as we have seen in our fractured pop moment — a one-of-a-kind visual album comprised of genre-crossing track after track, conceived and produced on a scale unrivaled by any artist, living or dead. It was also a pitch-perfect rallying cry for black women to get in formation, their allies behind them, and forge a way forward despite the human imperfections of the men in their lives.
And yet, sadly, it isn’t. Unequaled artists have long bumped up against the glass ceiling that awards shows impose on black excellence.
For example, say that next year Ta-Nehisi Coates publishes a 75-page memoir entitled Between the Escalator and Me: More of My Thoughts about the Racist Atrocity that Was the Escalator Incident and Some Stuff about Black Bodies, but Robert Caro publishes the final volume of his biography of LBJ. And imagine that the book award judges think deep down that, really, Caro’s book is better.
And what if, in all the excitement, Caro forgets to apologize to Ta-Nehisi in his acceptance speech?
To preclude awkward incidents like that, they could give Genius T. Coates the super-prestigious Best Black award and everybody would be happy.
P.S.: One reason Trump drives the media so nuts is that he’s a white guy with a black-sized ego.