So, the 60th Annual Grammy Nominations were announced yesterday morning, and somehow it left me with more mixed emotions than I’ve felt in a long time. On the one hand, we have many reasons to celebrate this year–the 2018 list of nominees is the most diverse group in all of Grammy history, especially when it comes to Black and LGBTQIA inclusion. Jay-Z, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, and more were all (deservedly) nominated for record of the year. Kesha and Lady Gaga were both nominated for two Grammys each, and out songwriter Justin Tranter was nominated for his first award as well.
When it comes to inclusion in the entertainment industry, we’ve come a long way, and these nominees are just one example of that. Unfortunately, this progress has not been reflected within the Asian American community, as you can clearly see by the lack of Asian nominees for the 2018 Grammys. I can’t say I’m surprised, considering there aren’t really any huge Asian American names in the music industry. But it’s not because we’re not trying–it’s because those who run the system aren’t listening. This year I got the chance to discover Alice Gao, Niki Zefanya, Yaeji, and several other incredible Asian artists whose music deserves recognition–but none of them are getting the attention they deserve.
While Grammy nomination entries can by submitted by any artists/record companies with commercially released music, all submissions are reviewed by a group of over 350 experts in the fields of jazz, R&B, rock, classical, new age, and more. These experts within the Academy go through several rounds of screening, being advised to vote in up to 15 categories in their areas of expertise as well as the 4 general categories (Record of The Year, Album of the Year, Song of The Year, and Best New Artist). Unfortunately, if you are a lesser known artist in the US (aka most Asian American artists) signed to a label with more well known artists, your label will most likely submit their song/album to be considered for Grammy nomination over yours. At the end of the day, it’s pretty much a self fulfilling prophesy. Since Asian American artists are almost never well known enough to qualify for the final rounds of nomination, their work is not often submitted. As a result, Asian Americans are continuously left out of the mainstream. The whole thing is a cycle that seems to have no end.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe we should celebrate the victories we achieve, but I’m honestly so tired of writing and complaining about Asian American representation. You guys have heard it all before and I’m not here to preach the same message all over again, but my soul is tired y’all. While we should celebrate and cheer on our fellow POC, let’s remember that the entertainment industry is still far, far, from being the all inclusive community that we so desperately need.