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Foreign Artists Underrepresented in the AMAs, VMAs

by Sadie Presto

Artists of color are breaking records against white artists but continue to be discriminated against, especially at award shows.  

This year at the American Music Awards, the Favorite Album nominees were Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, and Taylor Swift. But according to Chart Masters, BTS is the first and only album of 2019 to surpass 4 million sales, while Billie has 3.4 million, Ariana 2.9 million, and Taylor 1.8 million.  

A past problematic occurrence that has been going on for 35 years is the Video Music Awards, or VMAs.  

Luis Fonsi released, “Despacito” in 2017; you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing it. Despite having over 6.5 billion views on YouTube and the most viewed video on YouTube of all time, the record-breaking hit was not nominated for Video of the Year. Instead, it was  narrowed down to the Latin Pop category.   

It took 11 years to both nominate a person of color, besides Michael Jackson, and for the first person of color to win Video of the Year. Of the 35 Video of the Year wins, only ten have been won by a person of color. Of the 20 Pop Video of the Year wins, only one has been won by a person of color.  

At this year’s show, BTS was not considered for Artist of the Year or Video of the Year.   

After millions went to Twitter and trended hashtags worldwide like #VMAsRacist, and #VMAsXenophobic, the VMAs didn’t fix where they failed, but instead created two new categories, just like they have for years, to narrow BTS away from white artists: Best Group and Best Korean Pop.   

“Why separate Korean Pop from the rest of the music categories?” wrote Luke Waltman with the UK HuffPost.  “I though America was built on breaking barriers, not making them.”  

There was never an issue for Ed Sheeran. There was never a specialized English Pop category. 

“Refusal to place artists of color on an equal playing field with white artists is willful ignorance and obvious xenophobia,” said Aamina Kahn, writer for Teen Vogue. 

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