The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Column: Black artists' struggle for recognition continues this awards season


An Oscar statue stands outside of the 84th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 26, 2012.

Photo Courtesy of Lionel Hahn/Abaca Press/TNS.

For as long as I can remember, I have sat in front of the TV to see if my favorite artists would win in their categories during awards season. While some artists rightfully get their flowers each year, it seems like Black and other minority artists are constantly snubbed of these coveted awards. 

At this year's 66th annual Grammy Awards, rapper Jay-Z accepted his Dr. Dre Global Impact Award and had a lot to say about his feelings toward the award show. “I don’t want to embarrass this young lady, but she has more Grammys than everyone and has never won Album of the Year,” said Jay-Z when talking about his superstar wife, Beyoncé.

While this comment shocked a lot of people, it was eye-opening. Beyoncé — who is by far the most decorated artist of our generation with 32 Grammy awards — never received the Recording Academy's most prestigious award. 

In 2023, Beyonce was nominated for nine awards, including AOTY, Song of the Year and Record of the Year. She went home with four Grammys, the only win broadcasted on TV being Best R&B song. 

In 2016, Beyoncé wrote her monumental sixth studio album “Lemonade.” This album embodies Queen Bey’s journey with her husband's infidelity and her journey with her racial identity. Associated Press even named it their album of the decade. Yet she was not given AOTY for this prized work. 

When singer/songwriter Adele went up to accept her Album of the Year award for “25,” she immediately praised “Lemonade,” shocked that Beyoncé did not (finally) receive the esteemed prize.

“The Lemonade album was just so monumental, Beyoncé, it was so monumental,” said Adele. “The way you make me and my friends feel, the way you make my Black friends feel is empowering, and you make them stand up for themselves, and I love you.”

Adele's decision to stand up for Beyoncé and Black artists while accepting her major award took a lot of courage and received applause from many. But nothing changed since. 

Beyoncé, unfortunately, is not the only Black artist to go unrecognized by the Grammys. According to Business Insider, of the 66 total Grammy award ceremonies, only 11 Black artists received the award for Album of the Year. Even more shocking, only three of those winners have been Black women.

Another Academy Awards show, the Oscars, also lacks representation of Black women and women in general for their powerful director roles. Even though the Oscars have been operating for 95 years, in 2002, Halle Berry became the first (and so far only) Black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress.

These celebrities represent the larger portion of talented Black creators who are pushed and shoved into categories like Best Rap Album, Best Supporting Actor/Actress or Best R&B Song, while white artists are allowed larger awards and are recognized in the spotlight. 

Looking at the lists of nominations and winners of the Academy Awards was a tough pill to swallow. With 66 Grammy ceremonies to date, and the 96th Academy Awards right around the corner, there seems to be a persistent cycle of white supremacy that invalidates the hard work of these talented individuals.

What makes these artists being cast aside sting all the more is the fact that these award shows often happen in February, which is Black History Month. These events happening during Black History Month reminds us that recognition, respect and representation is not a given. Black creators, actors and artists have contributed too much to society to continually be snubbed in the way they are.  


To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.