George Floyd’s murder in broad daylight was initially about the ongoing problem of police brutality against African-Americans. However, the picture has extended far bigger than anyone could have imagined with systemic racism around the world falling under the microscope.
In the UK, a great deal of the conversation focused on how Black people in the country are represented across media, whether it be on TV or in the music business.
Networks, awards shows and record labels were among the bodies who pledged to do better for diversity and inclusion in regards to race.
Now, exactly a year to the day since Floyd’s murder forced societies to look at their treatment of Black people, has anything changed in the world of entertainment?
Probably the short answer to that is a resounding ‘no’. Racism isn’t going to be extinguished overnight, in a few months or even in any of our lifetimes.
However it’s a good time to start.
There’s still room for improvement but ITV has clearly made efforts to show an increased number of Black faces on some of their staple shows.
Loose Women has twice featured an all-Black panel, including the likes of Judi Love and Charlene White, for the first time in the show’s 22-year history. It was well-received with viewers hailing the inclusive episodes as a breath of fresh air.
Reflecting on their historic moment, Judi said: ‘Being a part of history in representation with regards to having four Black women, these amazing talented women, was such an emotional event.
‘I was so emotional because the fact this was such a big thing in 2020 made me realise how it was so different and how much it hadn’t been done.
‘And then it made me think of many other women of colour who have been in entertainment before me and they missed out on things because this wasn’t seen as something that viewers would watch, or it just wasn’t even thought about because of the demographics.’
Elsewhere on the channel, Alison Hammond was promoted to a weekly hosting slot on This Morning alongside Dermot O’Leary, replacing Eamonn and Ruth on Fridays. It was a particularly groundbreaking moment as Alison had been part of the show’s family for almost 20 years, but never given a regular gig until then.
However, TV has seen some dark moments over the past year.
Sharon Osbourne notably left The Talk over in the US after getting into an uncomfortable confrontation with co-host Sheryl Underwood. During their heated debate live on-air, Sharon shouted at Sheryl and demanded to be educated about racism, while also hurling expletives.
The former X Factor judge was defending her friend Piers Morgan, who in turn quit Good Morning Britain after receiving over 41,000 complaints about his criticism of Meghan Markle. Piers vehemently denied his attacks on the Duchess of Sussex had anything to do with her race, but many used his and Sharon’s tirades as examples of the treatment of women of colour on TV and in the media.
Piers’ departure from GMB also came after a tense clash with weatherman Alex Beresford over Meghan, and highlighted the need to prominently have diverse voices on the programme to better tackle racially-charged subjects with the sensitivity needed.
Despite a push to get Beresford a permanent spot next to Susanna Reid, it’s instead been a revolving door of temporary presenters.
Extending beyond the UK, the shambles that are currently the Golden Globes only serve as a mark of how much still needs to change in showbiz.
Days before the star-studded awards ceremony in March, it emerged that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) doesn’t have a single Black member out of 87 journalists. Even worse, it reportedly hasn’t had one since at least 2002.
For many, it explained the sensational snub of Michaela Coel from the Golden Globes nominations list, despite her series I May Destroy You being hailed as the best TV show of 2020.
It only got worse for the HFPA as NBC announced they would not air the awards in 2022, while Tom Cruise returned the Golden Globes he’d won in an admirable stand against the lack of inclusivity.
The HFPA has since released their plan to review their membership process by August.
There have been small signs of change being made in the world of music.
In October, a report from trade body UK Music revealed that there has been a significant increase in the number of Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff in the music industry since 2016. They found that the proportion of minority ethnic employees had risen from 15.6% in 2016 to 22.3% in 2020.
However, the report also noted that representation is worse in higher-paid jobs, which speaks volumes about the positions in which people of colour are being hired.
That same month, the trade body published a 10-point diversity plan that included the music industry banishing the word ‘urban’ to describe music of Black origin, and also the term BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic), which groups all ethnic experiences under one umbrella as though all the same.
Little Mix star Leigh-Anne Pinnock recently released her BBC Three documentary, Race, Pop & Power, exploring racism and colourism within the music business.
It included powerful testimonies from herself and stars like Alexandra Burke and Sugababes’ Keisha Buchanan about their experiences of being discriminated against as Black women.
However, another eye-opening moment saw Leigh-Anne attempt to arrange a meeting with her record label, Sony, to discuss how they can increase the number of Black people in the workplace, from photo shoots to recording sessions.
Leigh-Anne hit a wall however when the record label refused to meet on camera – that was after they put forward a Black marketing executive for the meeting.
‘It is almost like let’s put two Black women in a room to solve the issue of racism,’ Leigh-Anne noted.
Clearly, there has been some effort to improve diversity across entertainment but also some glaringly concerning obstacles that need to be addressed.
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