4 Moments From the 2016 Grammys That Were Powerful Political Statements
The Grammys usually give us a lot to talk about, and this year's were no different. It was some night. Here are 4 moments that people are definitely talking about--and should be.
1. Kendrick Lamar on black lives
Kendrick Lamar won 5 awards--the most of anyone--including Best Rap Album for To Pimp a Butterfly. That alone is fire. (What he didn't win was Album of the Year. More on that one in a sec.) But he also gave an incendiary performance. coming onto the stage as part of a chain gang, with his band in jail cells, to perform "The Blacker The Berry"--then transitioning onto a set with a gigantic bonfire and African dancers. If people thought Beyoncé's Super Bowl performance was a controversial political act, let them ponder Lamar's haunting statement about what it means to be a black man in America.
The Staples Center crowd leapt to their feet when Lamar was done. We bet a lot of people at home did too. Or were rendered speechless. Or both.
Kendrick's performance last night was like a punch to the gut. It made me feel in ways I haven't via live tv. Kudos to the man.
— Craig Owens (@craigowens) February 16, 2016
— xoNecole (@xonecole) February 16, 2016
kendrick's performance was so important he stood in front of a crowd of white ppl and celebrated his blackness while calling them out
— cait (@cocainezayn) February 16, 2016
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 16, 2016
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) February 16, 2016
2. Lady Gaga on gender identity and gender fluidity
Lady Gaga did a gender-bending tribute to David Bowie, whose death shook the music world (OK, the whole world) last month. Bowie himself was well known for his influential gender-bending, and Lady Gaga channeled that in her Grammys performance. OK OK not everyone was a fan, including Bowie's son, who clearly thought Gaga was hyper and overwrought ...
"overexcited or irrational, typically as a result of infatuation or excessive enthusiasm; mentally confused." Damn it! What IS that word!?
— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) February 16, 2016
... but let's not overlook the statement made by an iconic female artist performing as an iconic male artist who performed and reinvented his own gender along the whole spectrum and inspired so many people to break out of their narrow notions about sex and gender roles and norms.
Lady GaGa does a tribute to David Bowie at the Grammy's showing Just how much gender assignment really doesn't matter #GRCMedia
— Torey Buenger (@torey_15) February 16, 2016
Lady Gaga killed it. Perfect successor to Bowie. Plays with notions of gender and sexuality and plays on the forefront of pop avant garde
— Alex Pennington (@TheNotoriousACP) February 16, 2016
3. Stevie Wonder on disabilities
Stevie Wonder was there not to perform or to vie for an award, but to present one. How'd he do that? By reading the winner from a Braille card. But first, he jokingly mocked everyone else on stage for not being able to read it. And then took a moment to make sure everyone appreciated what that means and how crucial it is to make everything accessible for all.
— Tommy McFLY (@TommyMcFLY) February 16, 2016
Thank you, Stevie.
YES FOR ACCESSIBILITY!!!!
— Nyle DiMarco (@NyleDiMarco) February 16, 2016
4. Taylor Swift on women owning their power
1989 was crowned Album of the year. Taylor Swift didn't just shake off her haters--she went after them, head-on. First she celebrated the fact that she's the only woman ever to win Album of the Year twice. And then not only did she do the live version of subtweeting Kanye West for his new lyric about how he made her famous, but she went even further, to send a message to every young girl out there about how to rise above others' efforts to sabotage you or take credit for your success.
The Internet is pretty divided over whether Album of the Year went to the right album or not, but pretty united in thinking Swift absolutely slayed.
She threw her shade while inspiring an entire generation. Legends only. pic.twitter.com/lyrbwU3Hte
— May (@fearlessgomez13) February 16, 2016
I'm not sure Taylor deserved that Grammy, but I can't deny Kanye deserved that clapback.
— jay smooth (@jsmooth995) February 16, 2016
How many ppl keep refreshing their Twitter to see what Kanye is going to say back to that TSwift shade lol
— PAPI FUEGO (@LouMiceliJr) February 16, 2016
If you care about these 4 issues, here are 4 ways to take action right now:
Holly Epstein Ojalvo
Holly’s mission is to inform, inspire, and empower engaged activists who will change the world. She was previously an editor at The New York Times and a high school teacher. She spent her brief 20’s slump at a mousepad factory. Holly earned a B.A. at Lafayette College and M.A.'s at U Delaware and NYU. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, daughter, and cat, Tomie Twotone. Follow: @heoj.