THE BLOG
26/02/2016 08:00 GMT | Updated 26/02/2017 05:12 GMT

#OscarsSoWhite and So Are The BRITs

James Bay triumphed over other nominees and was deemed the British Male Solo Artist at the 2016 BRITs. Following in the footsteps of recent winners Ben Howard and Ed Sheeran, a recurring pattern seems to be emerging. All three sing, play the guitar and happen to be white. It's the case that #OscarsSoWhite that they can't see diverse talent and the BRITs aren't much better.

Out of the 45 nominations in the British categories, ethnic minorities made up five of them. Leigh-Anne Pinnock's group Little Mix performed and were nominated twice, the other two nominations went to Naughty Boy and Rudimental. No ethnic minorities were nominated in the British male or female categories. Whilst FKA Twigs was nominated for British Female Solo Artist at last year's ceremony, you'd have to go back five years to find the last minority act to be nominated in the British Male category. Tinie Tempah was the last to be nominated in 2011; Dizzee Rascal was the most recent to win in 2010.

It's not that past winners didn't deserve their awards, but the voting panel which dictates who is the 'best' seem to focus on white artists. This means that ethnic minorities don't get the commercial success which comes with a BRIT award.

If Sam Smith was able to win four awards at the 2014 MOBO's, then why couldn't Stormzy have been nominated at the BRITs? Past MOBO winners such as Sound of 2014 runner up Ella Eyre and rap duo Krept and Konan ( https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/11/04/mobo-awards-2015-winners_n_8433856.html ) have yet to be nominated despite critical and commercial success with their both their albums and singles.

At a time when conversation about race and representation is so prominent in the USA, partly due to Kanye West's tweets, Grammy-winning albums from Kendrick Lamar and a Superbowl appearance from Beyoncé, why are we ignoring the obvious lack of representation of ethnic minorities in British music?

But is it the BRITs fault? Or is it more to do with the way that the record industry works? Last year's top 10 biggest albums were all released by white artists. The Weeknd and Gregory Porter are the only black artist tos feature in the top 40 chart, with their albums Beauty Behind the Madness and Liquid Spirit ranking at number 26 and number 37. There's no appearance from any British ethnic minorities. Record labels need to start investing in non-white talent. Artists like Stormzy shouldn't have to use Twitter campaigns to get their songs to chart. The record labels should be putting the time, money and effort into supporting their roster.

There's a plethora of non-white talent in the UK that hasn't been viewed by the BRITs let alone the general public. If the awards focused on record quality, rather than record sales then acts like Boy Better Know, FKA Twigs and Kwabs would have received a gong by now.

The BRITs only serve as a device to keep white music at the top, whether it intends to or not. The Grammy awards have received similar criticism. It's not enough for the UK record labels to rely on imported music from Beyoncé, Kendrick and Kanye to show diversity. Investment in British artists is needed so that girls from Peckham can become the next Rihanna, or boys from Bradford can become the future Frank Ocean. With pressure mounting from Stormzy Wolf Alice and Craig David, the organisers of the BRITs have pledged to increase the levels of diversity shown in the nominations. With the Oscars this weekend signalling the culmination of the 2016 Award Season, will 2017 be the year when minority talent is finally recognised?

Let's hope so.