Is Bias Keeping Beyonce’ From Winning?
STOP! WARNING. IF YOU WISH TO REMAIN COMFORTABLE, CLOSED MINDED OR MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO, THIS READ IS NOT FOR YOU. MAY I SUGGEST DISNEYLAND?
Is it implicit bias or explicit bias that the Academy suffers from? Yes. This may get a little uncomfortable.
Could bias be at play in the Academy? Is art mimicking life once again? The challenge of bias is a reality faced by many in our corporations and companies daily. Surely the Academy is not immune.
As Adele approached the stage Sunday night to accept the Album of the Year Grammy, she read the minds of many watching. "What does Beyoncé have to f_!@#$& do to win Album of the Year?" she remarked. She maybe contemplated a few facts of her own.
• 25 released in 2015, not 2016 (6 months before Lemonade)
• 25 eclipsed the 10M physical copies sold
• 25 streaming was delayed for seven months, undoubtedly aiding physical sales
With six months less time in market, and releasing initially in digital platforms, B's Lemonade still eclipsed the elusive 10M physical copies sold; becoming only the second artist to attain this feat since 2004.
What are you feeling right now? "She was robbed! B should have won!" Or, “BS! Adele deserved it!” Did your agreement have to do with Beyoncé being Black or Adele being White? STOP! I really want you to think about this and be honest. Only you know. Initially, was your response an emotional one?
Yes. I raised the question. Is this a Black v. White thing? Or is the Academy's bias about "difference?" (This question may be my own "corporate" bias. The Black v. White question may still be a bit much to confront directly. If so, this is your out. Or is it mine...) Some may think there is a bias against R&B or Hip Hop, equating that to Black. Still others would offer David Bowie had to die to get his just due from the Academy. We see the world as we are, not as it is. Bowie was “different.” His talent crossed damn near every genre of music. It would not have surprised me to see him belt out a Chance the Rapper line if he were still here. Maybe that's the challenge? Difference.
Dig deeper into the data. Uncover the statistics, the facts, the Academy's history, and you may be inclined to ask, "Does the Academy have some bias to work on?" In a Rolling Stones article last week, the Academy’s Ken Ehrlich offered these words around music and politics, "It's the tenor of the times right now and you can't really divorce yourself from reality." What reality? Whose reality? Whose perspective was he referring to? Again, people see the world as they are, not as it is. More often than not, we remain "safe." Studies show we spend almost half of our day on autopilot. It is impossible to operate in autopilot, without engaging some bias. Biases help us to be efficient. In the decisions that you make, how do you keep your biases in check? What would the historical review of your decisions show? Biased much?
Studies still show White names on resumes accompanying applications, have a 50% greater chance at receiving a call back. To compete, some find it necessary to alter their names to sound more mainstream, increasing their odds for success. Though Airbnb is the answer to accommodations for many, still others find it necessary to change their profile picture for equal treatment. A myriad of changes have been made by the company to address the challenges. Yes. This still happens. Yes. This is 2017. We must consistently ask ourselves, "Are our biases in check?" We all have biases. Some conscious. Some subconscious. Some we pretend don't exist in us. However, at times, if we're paying attention we are reminded they're there.
Do you play it safe? Biases create efficiency. Some were intrigued by this post’s warning, but moved on from reading this at the first sign of discomfort. This was perhaps a bias to staying safe. By "safe" I mean the desire to maintain a myopic view and not challenge their own perspectives. Safe may mean they are in search of validation of their existing perspective, and not to challenge it? The brain is powerful. It efficiently filters input, capturing only information validating what it already believes to be true. Diligently challenging our biases can help stretch our thinking, moving us forward.
To borrow the words of Ms. Carter (that's Beyoncé) as she referenced why Lemonade was created, I wish "to confront issues that make us uncomfortable." My hope is that we get comfortable, being uncomfortable. Eleanor Roosevelt said, "You should do something every day that scares you." I add to that, "And stretches you." Will you play it safe? Or will you get out of your comfort zone, do something that scares you and stretches you? How will you confront your biases?
Kevin D Wright, believes leadership is personal. The author of Better Results! he's a dynamic international speaker, business growth consultant and executive coach covering leadership and performance. Kevin partners with organizations to get the most from their talent and customers; even tackling the tough topics. Visit www.leadershipispersonal.com to see how Kevin can assist you.