Apparently, Lianne la Havas is not woke. Or at least she’s not as woke as fans thought she would be.
This all revealed itself last Thursday when the British songstress choose to remove her name from a Twitter conversation regarding the 2016 Brit Awards. Like every other mainstream award ceremony, the Brits decided to completely overlook talent of the African persuasion.
La Havas, who’s album Blood dropped July 2015 and ranked No. 2 for UK Albums, was one of these talented performers of color who was not nominated. In protest of the blatant snub, #BritsSoWhite began trending on Twitter. But the 26-year-old half Greek-half Jamaican songstress was not here for it.
In tweets that have now been deleted she says, “DO NOT include me with this horrible hashtag. We can slay whatever the weather – with or without awards.” Adding in response to another person, “I never said I didn’t care about the award. I think the hashtag is racist and unfounded.”
Bloop. Well… OK then.
What erupted was probably not what the singer expected, as fans and others began questioning her logic in not want to directly address the institutionalized racism in music.
The Guardian’s Yomi Adegoke breaks this argument down in the most eloquent way, noting:
In past years, white singers influenced by soul manage to clean up at the Brit awards and tend to then do the same several months later at the Mobos. The fact that many black musicians struggle to receive recognition at any ceremony at all doesn’t seem to bother them one bit. By their own admittance, many of these singers owe a great deal to the likes of Aretha Franklin, Etta James, James Brown and Whitney Houston – to the black pioneers of soul (hello Adele, Sam Smith), the blues (James Bay) and R&B (Jack Garratt, Jessie J). Considering they’re making music of black origin and subsequently raking it in by doing so, many show an unbelievable amount of contempt for the issues faced by those they emulate.
Ed Sheeran was nominated the “most important person in black music” by the BBC 1Xtra power list and swiftly implored sceptics to “listen with their ears, not their eyes”.
This does not mean that the nominated artists aren’t talented. It’s simply that black artists, whether they are more, less or equally as exceptional are not equally rewarded – even within a predominantly black genre…It’s white privilege at its most dizzying. Dominate a genre pioneered by black people, then balk and cry foul when this grim reality is pointed out every once in a while…The argument often goes that “people shouldn’t get rewards simply because they are black”. But when will we finally realise that in the business of making “black music”, musicians are continually rewarded simply because they are white?
Maybe La Havas should have read this piece before being so quick to dismiss the conversation.
Sadly, in an industry that shows racism in non-acknowledgement, simply being passé about an issue is hurting the cause.