As I’m sure many of you already know, the Grammy’s took place this weekend , and once again black artists were snubbed for the most coveted category, “Album of the Year.” Adele’s “25” won over Beyonce’s “Lemonade.” While I do enjoy Adele, “21” got me through a break-up with a mad man, 25 sounded like a collection of songs that didn’t make the cut for 21, or her album “19” for that matter. That’s the thing about Adele and her albums, they lack progression, they’re lackluster, and it seems as if she has been in the same point in her life her whole musical career. While Lemonade sounds nothing like Beyonce’s solo debut “Dangerously in Love” or “B’Day,”or “I am… Sasha Fierce,” or, you get the point.
Beyonce` is continuously progressing, giving us new sound, new perspectives, new sides of her with amazing visuals, all the while being snubbed at the Grammy’s year after year. In comes white heroism. Everyone is talking about Adele’s speech and how amazing and brave she is, while I’m a bit unimpressed. First, let me say Adele’s acceptance speech was a nice gesture, but that’s just it, it was a gesture. Though Adele seemed seemed pretty genuine, traits of white feminism were present in that speech. Her language was not direct. If you are going to call out the academy and make a statement, truly do that, do not dance around it.
While speaking to reporters, she said she thought the the Grammy’s would roll with the tide this year and not be so “traditional.” Traditional in what sense? Traditional in the sense of inferior works of art will continue to be awarded for mediocrity? Or traditional in the sense of racially biased choices? I do not applaud half-ass activism and statements. Just as it is important for white allies to call out their peers, it is also important to be so direct with your words that there is no room for interpretation. If you feel as though the academy is racist, say just that and nothing else.
I’m also not impressed with Adele beginning her acceptance speech by saying she couldn’t accept the award, then proceed to accept it. If you feel as if someone was robbed, that their greatness was overlooked by your mediocrity, give up the award. Don’t break it in half to keep a piece for yourself. What bothers me most is that she didn’t say no, I reject this and give Beyonce` all the recognition she deserved to have by herself. She kept some of that shine and recognition for herself, and is now being praised for shinning a light on someone else.
So Adele is still the winner, the hero, and a Black woman still came in second place even though her work was clearly better. And now no one wants to talk about the Grammy’s bias because they’re satisfied that Adele “at least said something,” and thus the cycle of white feminism that gives gestures, but not actual solidarity to Black women will continue.
Then white comedian Gary Owen took it upon himself to “officially” invite Adele to every Black families’ cookout because of her acceptance speech. For those of you that don’t know, the cookout is special to us, it’s a social gathering for Black Americans where we get together with the ones we love to be loud, listen to the music we like, and eat the food we love; and to be invited to one as an outsider is to be considered an honor. The invitation to a cookout is an ongoing joke among Black Americans and is basically saying “we fool with you.” So after all of that I have to ask, who the hell gave Gary Owen the green light to invite others to cookouts he himself still needs to be invited to?
And before some of you say “Gary’s down, he has a Black wife,” let me stop you. Not saying Gary Owen has ever made any anti-Black comments himself, but interracial dating and marriage does not guarantee that someone is “down” and stands for all Black people, nor does it solidified or guarantee you automatic inclusion to Black spaces outside of your family. And it damn sure doesn’t give you ownership, authorization, or a plus one to those spaces. Gary Owen is a prime example as to why many Blacks are hesitant to have white allies and then allow those white allies in our spaces, y’all don’t know how to stay in your lane!!
And of course some of us got mad at Gary Owen for this intrusion, and instead of just taking the L and understanding that it is not his place to say who is allowed in our spaces, he attempted to make a joke (using Poetic Justice as an example to shove his knowledge of Black culture down our throats) that illustrated that he truly still doesn’t get it. Lucky (aka Tupac) and Justice were able to crash that cookout because they were kin by melanin. We will always welcome our melanated brothers and sisters into our spaces because our safe spaces are the few places we can go where we can let our guard down, be ourselves and feel… safe. Y’all, on the other hand, have to have permission, no matter how many BET movies you’ve been in.
But to be honest, I can’t even blame people like Gary Owen, his Adele invitation got a lot of support from us. Which makes me ask why? And not just with him and Adele, but with everyone. Why are we so quick to share our spaces without doing in-depth background checks? We don’t ask for non-Black’s receipts before extending invitations. The popular blog “The Shaderoom” even made a list of 13 white celebrities who were invited because of Gary, and most of which I couldn’t understand why. Meryl Streep made the list, and as much as I love her as an actress, she wouldn’t be invited to any cookout of mine. While she has called out Donald Trump for his racism, she has never directly stood up for Black lives. But, she has however deflected criticism for her film festival’s lack of diversity by saying “we’re all African.” She also made a whole movie about the Suffragette Movement and didn’t care to include the many Black women who made that movement possible.
Justin Timberlake also made that list, most likely because he makes “soulful” music, but he hardly gives credit where it’s due, and he also allowed Janet Jackson to take all of the heat following the Super Bowl when HE exposed HER nipple. And he isn’t a one time offender. His tweets following Jesse Williams’ amazing speech at a BET awards that dismissed and essentially silenced someone who asked about his culture appropriation illustrated that he too STILL didn’t get it, even though he claimed to be “inspired.”
Shit, we all loved Bill Clinton cause he went on a Black show and played the sax, but then looked dumb when we found out his administration was the reason why many of our daddies, uncles and brothers are in jail now (you know, the three strike rule).
I could go on, but I believe my point is made. We are so quick to invite someone to the cookout because they can dance like us, or sing like us, but then we wonder where our support is when we are cleaning the blood of one of our slain brothers and sisters off of the street. People borrow our sound and style, but never return it in the form of a check to the many Black neighborhoods, universities or after-school programs that desperately need it. Sharing (or stealing) culture does not mean sharing struggle. When Billy and Beth are done Milly-rocking, they don’t have to fear being pulled over by the police on their way home, they also don’t worry about their skin color getting in the way of landing certain jobs.
Adele was nice to have bowed down to the queen, but I don’t give praise to things that should be done anyway. If something is unfair and you know it, it is your job as a decent human to let it be known. Sharing culture is fine, but we have to be careful who we let into our space, because one day, it won’t belong to us anymore, don’t let history repeat itself once again.