Despite increased representation within the British music industry, the UK sector remains hostile to Black creators and professionals, according to a report that highlights the effects of systemic racism on mental health and a racial pay gap that disproportionately affects Black women.
The first Black Lives in Music study found that 63% of Black music creators had experienced direct or indirect racism, including explicit racist language or different treatment because of their race or ethnicity, and 67% had witnessed such behaviour. Racial microaggressions were rife, experienced by 71% of Black music creators and witnessed by 73%.
Anonymous respondents reported “having to repeatedly ask other artists to stop using the N-word”, “jokes about skin colour, Africa and persistent questioning about where I really come from” and being typecast as an R&B artist.
Those figures rose among Black music professionals, with 73% experiencing direct or indirect racism and 80% experiencing microaggressions.
One professional recalled being in a meeting for a white female artist that featured a “moodboard full of Black women and afro-textured hairstyles” that were described as “Rasta hair”. When they said a white male artist should not sing in Jamaican patois, they said they were told: “I did wonder if that is what you thought – that is why I was afraid to ask you.”