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Lil Nas X’s BET Awards Snub Is The Latest Example Of Our Failure To Recognize Black Excellence

Lil Nas X performs onstage during the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards on April 03, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The nominees for the 2022 BET Awards were revealed on Wednesday and to the surprise of many, hip-hop’s “Industry Baby,” aka Lil Nas X, didn’t make the list.

Now, while some users online didn’t see the issue with it, others were quick to notice and took to social media to raise the issue and call out the legacy platform for its questionable oversight two years of sequel, especially considering that: 1) the “That’s What I Want” artist had Three songs in the Top 10 of the Billboard charts at the same time and 2) his 2021 album Montero went platinum and earned him five Grammy nominations earlier this year.

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Lil Nas X himself finally took to Twitter to air his grievances, writing in a series of since-deleted tweets, “Thank you, BET Awards. An outstanding zero nominations again. Black Excellence! I will be selling fish plates outside of the BET Awards this year.

When asked by an online user asking what music he put out, Lil Nas replied, “IDK maybe 3 of the biggest songs of the last year and a critically acclaimed album. I feel like that would have had to help me out a bit.

He later added, “I just feel like black gay people have to fight to be seen in this world and even when we get to the top the mfs try to pretend we’re invisible.”

And you know what?? He is absolutely right. While the fate of acknowledging the humanity and contributions of black queer people has long been documented and continues to play out even in the year of the / our Lord/ Blue Ivy, let’s zoom out and remove the BET Awards — and Lil Nas X in particular — for a second. In fact, let’s just replace them with a very important and culturally significant award show for the black community and a non-gay black rapper who raised the exact same distinctions, respectively. In WHICH world would this rapper be not to be recognized? More specifically at this price reduction?

I can’t speak to any platform’s intention, nor will I speculate on their reasoning why they wouldn’t recognize this rapper’s success. What I will be to say is that in a time when the talk of black artists not supporting black platforms or regularly showing up for black awards abounds (with merit mind you) this doesn’t look good when said platforms and awards shows that are meant to be for us, by we don’t recognize black artists who are at the top of their game.

And it’s not exclusive to hip-hop/rap. I think of black country artists like Jimmie Allen, Mickey Guyton and Kane Brown who are all at the top of their game and who everything made history last year as the first black artist to win the New Male Artist award at the Academy of Country Music Awards; the first black woman to host the ACM Awards; and the first black solo artist to receive ACA Video of the Year, respectively. I’m also thinking of extremely talented artists like Jon Batiste who earned a record 11 Grammy nominations earlier this year and walked away with six wins, but who is also rarely recognized on black platforms on a regular basis.

If these institutions, and others like them, want to continue to be held in high esteem and seen as pillars and staples of culture, it may be beneficial for them to begin by redefining, reimagining and/or expanding what and who we deem worthy of recognition and accolades in black entertainment. It’s one thing to know and understand that blackness is not conceptually monolithic, but it’s quite another to recognize it, embrace it, and translate it into tangible action. Hopefully we can all do better on the latter as we move forward.


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