Since the BRIT Awards, One Direction has been enjoying a break from fame by hanging out in Los Angeles or traveling the world. However, without lifting a finger, One Direction is being roped into a serious discussion about the BRIT Awards and how it under-represents non-white U.K. residents.
According to Billboard and others, the discussion about racism/lack of diversity and the BRIT Awards began long before the ceremony convened on February 23. On Twitter, the hashtag #BritsSoWhite emerged because there were few nominations for musicians in the U.K. such as rapper Stormzy (2015 winner of the BET Award for Best International Act: U.K.).
After a couple of weeks, it was revealed on March 3 that there was a response as to why One Direction or Little Mix were the focus of the BRIT Awards winners instead of “black, Asian and minority ethnic” British musicians.
Ged Doherty, the head of the BRIT Awards, stated the following.
“The transparent BRITs Voting Academy is made up of 1,100 people from across the music industry, but, in truth, it needs to be updated.”
In addition to the BRIT Awards being accused of under-representing people of minority descent, the Grammys and Oscars in America have also been accused of the same issue, according to Billboard.
Addressing the issue in the U.K., Lily Allen was interviewed by the Sun around February 1, and she spoke about the edge that One Direction and others have.
“The Brit awards’ blindness to Black British talent goes on, as incredible years for Skepta, Stormzy and Lady Leshurr are shunned for music Alan Partridge would approve of.”
As the date of the BRIT Awards approached, so did the number of opinion pieces that wanted an explanation about the preference for bands like One Direction at the ceremony.
For example, on February 24, the Mirror reports Big Narstie stating the following about the BRIT Awards.
“The only diversity in [The BRIT Awards] is with the Americans. I’ve been saying for this for a while; for our country to do good, we need to embrace our country. Years ago when I was making music, I was sending it off to radio stations and getting told it was ‘too urban’.”
Big Narstie may also have been referencing Kanye West’s presence at the 2015 BRIT Awards. A year later, the Guardian quoted Wiley saying the following about the lack of “grime” at the 2015 BRIT Awards and how Kanye invited many of the U.K. rappers on stage during his performance.
“A statement was made. Kanye knows the Brits ain’t letting dons in there like that, so he kicked off the door for us.”
Alternatively, the Voice Online points out that some Black musicians feel that the BRIT awards “are out of touch” but “not racist.” Krept and Konan interviewed about the topic and stated the following.
“l just feel that the BRITS are not in touch with the culture, yet. I feel the year we had last year, it’s been crazy, it’s been wild, we’ve gone international. I don’t think they’ve caught up [this] year.”
In the end, could these arguments mean that One Direction supports racism? Although critics may feel that the BRIT Awards are kind of racist, One Direction does not directly promote racism.
In fact, with a little bit of online research, the only incidents of racism that One Direction has been involved with is where they are the victims. For example, One Direction fans were outraged when TV host Bill Maher said Zayn Malik looked like the Boston Marathon bomber, according to Metro.
One Direction was also in the headlines for racism when Neelam Gill and Zayn Malik broke up. During that time, the Mirror reports that Neelam Gill got racist verbal abuse from One Direction fans, but the band did not perpetuate or encourage these racist acts.
[Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images]