In the final minutes of last night’s Grammy Awards, we see Adele accept the award for Record of The Year.
“ANTI” is Rihanna’s best album, but alas.
Adele thanks her team and Beyoncé and declares that “…I want [Beyoncé] to be my mummy.”
This is true for most of us.
Faith Hill quips about wanting the same and announces the nominees for Album of The Year.
“Lemonade” obviously. Show over. Goodnig—
Except Faith says “25” and it feels like Election Night all over again.
It’s Super Bowl 51 Part Deux as I watched the Falcons flounder a 25 point lead. It is the Warriors blowing a 3-1 series (an event I, personally, may never recover from.) But most of all, it is the harsh reminder that Black (Woman’s) Excellence always comes second.
“Lemonade” was a finely crafted, poignant anthology of the struggles and triumphs of black womanhood. We universally rejoiced in the power of “Freedom” and no-effs-given “Don’t Hurt Yourself” and mourned in the love and loss of “Pray You Catch Me” and “Love Drought.” “Daddy Lessons” was a conversation on the influence on fathers in their daughters lives. There was a completeness in the album that, even for those who don’t regularly relish in its entirety, resonates but for a moment.
And “25” was another album of heartbreak songs.
It was a beautiful body work, but it was not artistically greater than Lemonade. Its impact and importance alone was not greater than “Lemonade” and is that not what the Recording Academy insists it highlights? I know this. You know this. Beyoncé knows this. Adele knows this and also announced this very sentiment to the world.
Olivia’s been here.
Black women are so regularly told that we have to work twice as hard to earn half as much as anyone else that it is difficult to stomach when that effort is not recognized where it should be. It feels like our successes are shelved for years until someone uncovers our stories months or, in some cases, decades later (go see “Hidden Figures”). We do the hard work and fight the good fights and are still regarded as less than.
Lemonade was an ode and a gift to black women, meant to be enjoyed by all, but focused on a few and that is likely the problem.
Beyoncé losing AOTY is the time I had to step down from a leadership role in order to spare the feelings of a one of my white classmates. It is every time my opinions in my work place are heard and never implemented—until it’s someone else’s idea. It is every time the feelings of Black women I know (and don’t) are diminished when we voice concerns about representation. We’re complaining, we’re hostile, we make everything about race, we’re too loud, we should wait our turn, we should focus on all women, we don’t have it that bad.
Arguably the biggest name in music today’s obviously deserving album is spurned for a lesser work from her White peer in the most universal category, but is awarded in the one focused on people of color—Urban Contemporary. Are we not good enough to represent the masses?
Black women do not have the same leeway to make mistakes or falter as our peers. We don’t get to dress up or dress down as we wish without being judged unfairly—First Lady Michelle, anyone? We’re policed to an inch of our lives about things that shouldn’t even matter and, all the while, we have to take our losses on the chin, smiling humbly and being gracious. Because Black women are only ever strong and forgiving. Please.
In her speech for the Urban Contemporary win, Beyoncé says:
“It’s important to me to show images to my children that reflect heir beauty so they can grow up in a world where they look in the mirror…and see themselves. And have no doubt that they’re beautiful, intelligent, and capable.”
Beyoncé’s loss—and Rihanna’s zero awards in eight nominations—is a blow to this powerful sentiment.
I adore Adele. Her music and realism is gorgeous. As much as I appreciate her pointing out the discrepancy for what it was, she still walks off the stage with that trophy.
The work continues.