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Color Of Change Demands Country Music Association Address Its Racist Culture

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 10, 2021
CONTACT: media@colorofchange.org

Color Of Change Demands Country Music Association ‘Face the Music,’ Address Its Racist Culture and Norms

Racial justice organization’s new campaign calls on the Association to adopt an inclusion rider, take steps to ensure a less hostile environment and greater support for Black musicians, creatives

NATIONWIDE — Ahead of the 55th Country Music Association Awards airing on November 10, Color Of Change — the nation’s largest online racial justice organization — today launched a new campaign to hold the Country Music Association (CMA) accountable for its anti-Black culture, its complacency in the industry’s habitual devaluation of Black people, and its incentive structure that jeopardizes the safety and wellbeing of Black artists and their careers.

Following the CMA’s refusal to enact Color Of Change’s recommended steps for dismantling its racist, anti-Black culture, the organization is now publicly calling on the Association to immediately overhaul and reimagine its policies and practices to create an inclusive environment for Black people, women, and other communities that face oppression. The organization is also introducing the #NotMyCMAs hashtag in conjunction with the campaign.

For the past several decades, country music has been almost exclusively dominated by white performers and decision-makers, despite the genre’s deep roots in Black culture. Out of nearly 200 artists signed to the six largest country labels, only 10 are Black. Meanwhile, only two of the CMA’s 77 board members are Black — and neither are in leadership positions.

“Country music would not be what it is today without Black artists who have shaped the genre from its inception, including legendary figures like Darius Rucker, DeFord Bailey, Charley Pride, and Linda Martell. Yet, the industry continues to systematically exclude Black country musicians and creatives — particularly Black women artists like Mickey Guyton, Rissi Palmer, and Miko Marks, who frequently report being tokenized, harassed, and made to feel unwelcome,” said Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson. “By rejecting calls for structural change from racial justice advocates, country music artists, and fans, the Country Music Association is demonstrating a disturbing commitment to upholding a status quo rooted in racial discrimination. The CMA has an opportunity to lead the way for the country music industry — to change patterns of exclusion and degradation and to take action toward meaningful progress on racial equity and inclusion.”

Color Of Change is demanding the Country Music Association:

  • Agree to a racial equity audit that meets Color Of Change’s requirements for a transparent and accountable audit.
  • Immediately remove Morgan Wallen as an eligible candidate from all award categories, following the news uncovering his use of a racial slur.
  • Rewrite their bylaws to address hate speech and sexual harassment from CMA staff and members, and to eliminate exclusionary barriers that prevent more Black people from joining the board.
  • Review (and rewrite) CMA nomination eligibility requirements so they no longer systematically shut Black artists out of the nomination process. The CMA must develop new requirements and implement them before the next CMA Awards.
  • Restructure the CMA board and Award voting bodies so they reflect the diversity that makes up our country, while also eliminating “Lifetime Director” positions.
  • Adopt an Inclusion Rider before the production of the next CMA Awards — one that sets forth a process for hiring and casting to expand and diversify the awards candidate pool, and encourages the hiring of qualified cast and crew who have been traditionally excluded from productions.

Color Of Change is a leader in holding the entertainment industry accountable for upholding racially unjust policies and practices. The organization successfully pressured RCA/SONY to drop R. Kelly in 2019 and actively partners with the Recording Academy to advance diversity initiatives.

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About Color Of Change:

Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by over 7 million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America. Visit www.colorofchange.org

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