"I'm rooting for everyone Black." -Issa Rae
At this point in my life, I hate all award shows and anything having to do with Hollywood. Both are inherently racist and consistently discredit the hard work, performance, and (usually) record breaking sales of the art that POC, more specifically Black people, create. With that being said, this year at the 60th Annual Grammy Award show, was no different. In fact, at this year's award show women of color were undeniably absent from the list of nominees in each category, ranging from Album of the Year to Best Music Film (apparently, this is a thing). Social media outrage about this year's Grammy award show began early, following last year's Grammy award show, where the Album of the Year award was given to Adele for her album "25," instead of Beyoncé after she released the visual album masterpiece that was "Lemonade." Following this disrespectful failure to acknowledge Black artistry, there now exists this deep sense of distrust that people of color have developed about the way in which Black artists are valued, in a world where mediocre white artistry is often praised and rewarded tenfold to that of Black artistry. As a result, this past Sunday, as people of color tuned into the 60th Annual Grammy Award Show, we were already prepared for an upsetting show, now matter how many of our favorite artists were nominated.
This brings us to the nominees and winner of the Best New Artist Award. The nominees for this category included Julia Michaels, Lil Uzi Vert, Khalid, SZA, and Alessia Cara. While all competitive in their own way, it was Khalid, SZA, and Alessia Cara who particularly stood out amongst the other nominees. Many people guessed that it would be one of the three who would take home the award. Moreover, it was apparent that the fan favorite of the nominees in this category was R&B singer, SZA. Ultimately Alessia Cara took home the award for Best New Artist, leaving many questioning whether or not the Grammy's had snubbed another Black artist in favor of a white one all while calling Alessia Cara undeserving of the award. Unlike Alessia Cara, SZA and Khalid were both nominated for their albums which were released in 2017; SZA's being "Crtl" and Khalid's being "American Teen." The issue with Alessia Cara's nomination is that she was nominated based on her album, "Know-It-All," which was released in 2015.
According the a May 2017 article on the Grammy's official website, "Our Best New Artist category probably has the most complicated set of rules of any of our categories. Essentially, a "new artist" is defined for the Grammy process as any performing artist or established performing group who releases, during the eligibility year, the recording that first establishes the public identity of that artist or established group as a performer. A Grammy nomination in a performance category in a prior year disqualifies an artist from competing in this category, unless the nomination came from a single or a guest spot on another artist's recording, and the artist hadn't yet released a full album." If these are the requirements to be nominated in this category, Alessia Cara should not have been nominated, thus she should not have won. Still she was nominated and as much as many SZA fans many not want to hear it, I believe that she was the best of the 5 nominees. Overall Cara is a better vocalist between the two and while that isn't the sole criteria for determining which nominees will win the award, it does factor in (Cara singing, SZA singing).
The larger issue is that Black people are rooting for everyone Black because we have a deep desire to have our people represented within the the spaces that so frequently tell us that we aren't adequate. We have now entered a moment in time where rooting for everyone Black is necessary, in order to promote the image inclusivity within a variety of spaces. I too am rooting for everyone Black. Why? Because I love my tribe so much that I want to see us at the very top. I am rooting for everyone Black because I want the next generation of Black leaders, creators, musicians, artists, and intellectuals to be at the top. Still, I am not willing to lower my the expectations that I have for my tribe in order for us to win - this is exactly what White people have done, which is why the term "white mediocrity" is relevant now, more than ever. I think Alessia Cara is the better vocalist and I think that because she won, SZA is going to come back with a vengeance. SZA is a powerful artist in her own way and I look forward to seeing the way she channels this loss into her future music.
*Disclaimer: God's good grace brought this blog to life.