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Why I Started the #BritsSoWhite Petition

24/02/2016 15:40 GMT | Updated 24/02/2017 10:12 GMT

On Thursday 14 January 2016 the nominees for the 36th annual BRIT Awards were announced. Boasting the ceremony's most diverse and eclectic rundown of artists to date, the shortlist left no genre unsung and no demographic disregarded.

Really? No.

In actual fact, counting categories where British artists we're eligible alone, out of 53 spots available just four were filled by acts featuring black artists. And I counted Little Mix twice! Meanwhile, the likes of Adele, James Bay and Years & Years secured four nominations each.

For a while this didn't phase me. I stopped watching the BRITs years ago and hadn't looked back. And to be honest, it peaked when Jarvis mooned Jacko.

But then I saw how the same was happening across the pond, leading people to critique the Oscars. And those people won. So I started a petition on Change.org calling on the BRITS to publish their voting academy's diversity figures. And with the BRIT Awards happening tonight, I feel more than ever that we can also win.

I've been blown away by the support the petition has received in the press from The Voice and Grime Daily through to Buzzfeed, Noisey and Channel 4 News. But ultimately I'm mostly humbled by the number of ordinary folk who've signed and backed something I started just three weeks ago today.

I've felt for ages that the BRITs - arguably our nations biggest music awards bash - isn't a truly representative celebration of the diverse music produced on these shores over a twelve month period, as it brands itself. For BME artists, the BRITs make it painfully obvious that the glass ceiling doesn't just exist - it's tripled glazed and Simon Cowell's swallowed the key to the lock for good measure.

Before I go further I should note that I don't exactly count myself as boffin when it comes to music of black origin. I'm more clued up with the UK DIY indie scene where I've had the pleasure of working with unsigned artists as both a blogger and gig promoter in my spare time. And as someone who defines as BME, I won't for a second peer through rose tinted glasses and pretend my beloved scene isn't a bit too crowded with white heterosexual guys strumming Fenders for my comfort (I can say this, right? Some of my best friends fit this description) - because it is. But I can see it evolving and becoming more inclusive of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, body image etc. Which is more than I can say about the BRITs.

Since starting the petition some people have defended the BRITs, arguing that nominations are based on record sales and chart success. Point taken. But I can't comprehend who the BRITs are trying to kid by overlooking black artists who made waves last year.

Did JME and Skepta not set up one of the most refreshing years for UK Grime in bare time? Did Stormzy not get rightfully "gassed" when he scooped 'Best Male' and 'Best International Act' at the MOBOs and BET Awards respectively? Did M.I.A. not make the year's boldest artistic statement and comeback of 2015 in one fell swoop giving her two pence on the migrant crisis via her thought-provoking video for 'Borders'? C'mon, BRIT organisers, as this clip illustrates - even OAPs know who Stormzy is!

Something needs to give.

We need to harness the positive momentum of last months Oscars campaign to make the music industry rethink it's processes and to champion the best BME artists, and be truly representative of British music.