Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The MOBOs and racism

For anyone who doesn't know, MOBO stands for "Music of Black Origin". The MOBOs are a fairly standard music business awards ceremony, where the various people basically take it in turns to pat each other on the back and celebrate making lots of money for the music companies, with one key difference: all the music must be of "Black Origin" - it must be performed, or composed, or produced, or otherwise constructed by black people. In essence, then, it's a form of positive discrimination.

Now, as I've mentioned before, I'm deeply uneasy about positive discrimination, on two grounds. Firstly, positive discrimination towards one group inherently means discrimination against all other groups. Secondly, by engaging in positive discrimination, you're actually sending the message "this group is not good enough to compete on a level playing field, so we're cheating to give them a chance" - hardly a good advert for the group in question.

That said, I can just about get behind short-term positive discrimination in two special circumstances: if we're dealing with a traditionally -ist group (racist, sexist, whatever-ist) and we're in the process of breaking down that barrier, or if there is a lack of, and pressing need for, proper representation across groups (for example, male teachers, especially at primary level, and perhaps female Muslim doctors).

However, that doesn't apply to the music industry, where many of the top acts are black, many of the up-and-coming acts are black, and where there don't appear to be any actual barriers to black people breaking in to the scene. (Arguably, there is an imbalance at the business level - but that's the one area the MOBOs don't touch.)

So, it's fair to say I don't like the concept of the MOBOs. It would be unacceptable to have awards for "Music of White Origin", so why is the other acceptable?


thechrlog said...

Yes, but MOWOs sounds awful.

Captain Ric said...

What about their wonderful charity work?