A new report has provided the first step towards amplifying the experiences of “unseen” and “unheard” Black disabled people who experience widespread discrimination in the UK music industry.
It highlights the intersectional* barriers that Black disabled music creators and professionals face every day.
The report says that 80 per cent of Black disabled music creators and 89 per cent of Black disabled music professionals who took part in a survey believed they had faced some sort of discrimination in the music industry.
And 74 per cent of Black disabled music creators felt there were specific barriers to success in the industry because of their race or ethnicity, compared to 58 per cent of Black non-disabled creators.
The report** is the first product of a new partnership between two campaigning organisations, Black Lives In Music (BLIM) and Attitude is Everything, which aims to amplify the experiences of Black disabled people in the music industry and break down the barriers they face.
It combines responses from nearly 150 Black disabled people who responded to a groundbreaking BLIM survey in 2021 and new interviews carried out by BLIM.
One of the Black disabled women who were interviewed for the report explained why she does not reveal her impairment until she secures a job.
She says in the report: “I’m a Black woman. Being a Black woman. Being a plus-sized Black woman. Being a Black woman with a child. Being a Black woman with a child with ‘special needs’. Then you’re going to add a disability to that?
“That’s why I don’t tell them. I don’t want to say. If I get the job, you’ll find out.”
Among the report’s recommendations is for industry events to consider disabled people and their access requirements “from planning through to delivery”, and for the music industry to ensure that Black disabled people are involved in marketing campaigns “in meaningful and non-tokenistic ways”.
It also calls for employers to consult Black disabled employees on their mentoring needs and support them to access career development opportunities.
Esta Rae, senior events manager at the Association of Independent Music, who writes in the foreword of her own experience as a “Black female creative working in the industry and being neurodivergent”, says the report provides “a small snippet of the voices of the Black creatives that are unseen in this industry, giving space for some to be heard”.
She says the report shows how “many feel they cannot progress and that they are not recognised as talented artists or industry professionals with vast potential to contribute to this industry we all love”.
Suzanne Bull, founder of Attitude is Everything, said: “The Unseen Unheard report and podcast series marks the first major intervention generated by our partnership with Black Lives In Music.
“It’s a rallying cry to the industry to listen to Black disabled artists and professionals and to respond to their experiences of race and disability-related barriers.”
Charisse Beaumont, chief executive of Black Lives In Music, said: “Together with Attitude is Everything, Black Lives In Music are on a mission for Black disabled music creators and professionals to no longer be unseen and unheard but instead celebrated, uplifted and granted the same opportunities as others.
“Eradicating discrimination and creating platforms and pathways to showcase their talent and skills so they can thrive and have the careers they truly deserve.”
Yesterday (Wednesday), the two organisations also launched an Unseen Unheard podcast series, which will interview Black disabled creators and industry professionals about their experiences within the industry, and will be hosted on the Black Lives In Music YouTube channel and on podcast platforms.
*“Intersectional” describes how different types of discrimination combine to create oppression, so that, for example, the experience of a Black disabled woman will be different to that of a white disabled woman or a gay disabled man
**Unseen. Unheard. Race and Disability – Black disabled experience in the UK’s music industry
Picture: Charisse Beaumont (left) and Esta Rae
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