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  • Writer's pictureAuthor T.D. McLaughlin Talks

Why seek validation from those who don't fully value you?

This past Sunday night marked the annual Grammy Awards, a pinnacle event in the music industry's calendar. Dubbed as a showcase of the year's musical highlights, the Grammys brings together artists from all genres, serving as a platform for what's perceived as the crème de la crème in the music world. However, beneath the glitz and glamour lies a lingering question for society and not just the entertainment industry: Why seek validation from those who don't truly value you?

The Grammy Awards have faced rightful criticism, with a segment of society feeling that they don't adequately value black artists. While it's true that notable black artists such as Beyoncé Knowles Carter (has the most Grammy's of all time), Lauryn Hill, and Alicia Keys have received recognition, instances like Macklemore winning Best Hip Hop Album over Kendrick Lamar (good kid, m.A.A.D. city) or Jay-Z (Magna Carta) raise eyebrows. Beyoncé's husband, the iconic entertainment mogul Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, as this years ceremony took to the Grammy stage to question why his wife, despite her monumental success and numerous trophies, has never won the coveted Album of the Year. Jay-Z's plea can be interpreted through two lenses. Firstly, as a loving and adoring husband advocating for recognition of his wife's hard work and sacrifices. Secondly, it underscores the ongoing struggle of black artists and black people seeking validation from institutions and people that often fail to fully appreciate our contributions.

Jay's speech brought to the forefront a question that has plagued the black community since we first stepped foot on "American" soil: why should black artists and black people continually seek validation from institutions that don't fully value us? Black culture boasts platforms such as Source Awards(no longer exist), the NAACP Awards and BET Awards, specifically celebrating black talent and genres. These platforms exist to recognize and honor the immense contributions of black artists to entertainment culture but winning these awards do not seem too mean as much to our black artist. These awards seem to be a microcosm of society where some see succeeding and thriving in the black community is not a win because it is not validated and stamped by "white America" or "American" culture.

Instead of clamoring for recognition from predominantly white institutions like the Grammys or MTV VMAs who don't wish to understand black culture but wish only to profit and loot from it. Why not nurture and elevate platforms like the NAACP Awards and BET Awards? Rather than begging for validation from spaces that historically undervalue black artistry, there's power in cultivating and amplifying platforms that inherently understand and celebrate black culture. Moreover, the tendency for white institutions to cherry-pick elements of black culture without investing in or fully acknowledging its creators is a longstanding issue. Tracy Chapman's impact, for instance, is profound, yet her most significant recognition did not come until a white artist covered her work.

It's time to reassess where we seek validation and recognition. The journey towards self-affirmation doesn't necessitate approval from those who may not appreciate our worth. Instead, it's about embracing platforms and spaces that genuinely celebrate our talents and contributions. The quest for validation should not lead us to spaces where our worth is not fully recognized and valued. Rather, it's imperative to uplift and champion platforms that authentically celebrate fully our cultural heritage and artistic achievements. As we navigate the intricacies of the entertainment industry and society as a whole, let us remember that true validation comes from within communities and places that genuinely appreciate our artistry and contributions.

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I understand what you are saying and I agree. However, it hurts my heart that there still exists such divides in our country. I have fought my entire life for no divisions, for one people, for one community. As I approach my golden years in life, I feel an incredible despair that such little progress has been made in that direction, and that little progress has come at such a high price. Even in our accomplishments and celebrations we remain divided. smh

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