Whites, not blacks, under-represented in Grammy nominations and on the Billboard Top 100

Easily one of the most intellectually bankrupt social movements in recent times has been the absurd claim that blacks are under-represented in Grammy nominations and on popular music ranking systems, such as the Billboard Top 100.

An article at Vocativ claims that “[p]opular music hasn't been this white since 1981”:

“The recent drop in diversity comes after a long climb toward equality. The end of the civil rights era saw the number of black nominees and winners take a dive -- a slump paralleled on the Billboard charts -- which only got worse during the disco inferno of '70s [sic], the low water mark for racial diversity in modern pop music.

In 1984, the Grammys stretched toward parity as Michael Jackson took home a record-breaking eight awards. And by 1989, the number of black artists nominated (13) actually exceeded the number of white artists nominated (7) for the first time.”

Only a moment of thought is required to debunk this nonsense.

The Grammy Award is provided by “the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the mainly English-language music industry.”  Thus, our datum for racial equality is the demographic history of the USA, which is a currently a predominantly white nation (72.4%) with a small but significant black (12.6%) minority.

Keep in mind that in the other major English-language music countries that substantially contribute to Grammy nominations and artists appearing on the sales charts – such as the United Kingdom (87.2% white, 3% black), Canada (79.1% white, 2.9% black), and Australia (92% white, <1% black), among others – the white-to-black ratio among the general population is, at present, even higher than in the U.S.  Thus, the situation gets even worse for discrimination against whites if we also bring these nations into play during our analysis.

Back during the 1980s, the racial demographics of the United States ranged from 80% to 83% white and 11.7% to 12.1% black.  Thus, if Grammy nominations over this period were based on true equality – namely, each race receiving a number of nominations proportional to its share of the population – then whites should have received 7 times more nominations than blacks in any given year.

As a result, we must conclude that 1989 was a horrendously racist year for Grammy nominations – against whites.  Among the 20 nominations discussed in the Vocativ article, 13 (65%) went to black artists, and just 7 (35%) were received by white artists.  Had the nominations achieved racial equality, the number of black artist nominations should have been 2 or 3, with 17 or 18 of the nominations going to white artists.

Conveniently, Vocativ “crunched the numbers” on the number of Grammy nominations by race since 1959 and Billboard Top 100 artists by race since 1965.  As shown in the figures below, the results are shocking for their discrimination against whites in favor of blacks.

During the 1960s and 1970s, on average there were about three times more Grammy nominations for white artists than for black artists.  Based on American racial demographics at the time (83.1% to 88.6% whites vs. 10.5% to 11.7% blacks), there should have been 8 times more white artist nominations to reach racial equality.

The situation then got even worse for white artists.  By 2000, the ratio of white to black artist nominations reached just 1.5, while at that time whites outnumbered blacks in the general population by 6:1.  In other words, white artists were receiving severalfold fewer Grammy nominations than racial equality would dictate.

During the past few years, the ratio has increased in favor of white artists, back up to just over 3:1, but still constituting a gross under-representation of white artists as nominees and a corresponding over-representation of black artists.

For the entire history of the Grammy Awards, systematic racial bias is evident against whites and in favor of blacks.

The same applies to the Billboard Top 100 artist distribution by race.  At its highest, the white-to-black ratio reached 4:1 in the late 1970s and early 1980s – when the general-population white-to-black ratio was over 7:1 (i.e., discrimination against white artists, not blacks) – and in recent times, that ratio has been around 3:1, compared to a general-population ratio of just under 6:1 (i.e., more white under-representation).

In the 1990s and early 2000s, many years had more black artists in the Billboard Top 100 than whites, while equality based on American racial demographics would have mandated a white-to-black ratio of more than 6:1.  Another dark chapter for discrimination against whites on the Billboard Top 100.

There isn't a period – or worse yet, even a single year – of the Billboard Top 100 where there were an appropriately high enough number of white artists in the charts proportional with the nation's racial demographics.

On one aspect, the music industry race baiters are correct: if you accept the premise that any deviation from strict racial proportionality equals racism, there is substantial evidence of racism between whites and black artists.  But the data strongly suggests that the racism is against whites, not blacks.