As I checked in to join the online press room for Eurovision 2021 things still felt surreal. We’ve been waiting 2 years for this moment and it is finally here. There wasn’t much time to get acquainted with the new online platform but one “new” feature is the ability to connect and peruse the full attendee list of accredited folks and anecdotally… not much has changed.
The bulk of the press core seems to still be mostly male and White.
Back in December, I reached out to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) requesting a full demographic breakdown of the approved accredited media of the past 3 years at the Eurovision Song Contest. In particular, I was curious about the gender and ethnic makeup of the press core for the Song Contest. I followed up on January 11, 2021 and made sure to clarify that if they were not tracking this information to indicate that. [read more]
The EBU has not replied to any of my requests and the mainstream press doesn’t seem to be interested in covering this issue at all.
With the creation of the online press room, I was curious to see if optional demographic information would be collected. It was not.
So my requests have been ignored and the EBU has decided to not center diversity amongst its communications staff or the press core for the Song Contest. The EBU couldn’t even issue a statement.
A year after a historic amount of Black performers were set to perform on the Eurovision stage and not one thought about how that level of diversity could also be celebrated behind the scenes. I am disappointed that this request was seemingly ignored and not acted upon. REMINDER: The things I thought the EBU could do were very simple:
- Reserving a few press and fan accreditation passes for individuals from minority communities.
- Requiring media outlets to provide data on their hiring, team structure, and the racial and gender makeup of their teams.
- Ensuring that the press team working for the European Broadcasting Union is diverse in gender and race.
The reason why I brought up this issue, again, is that I am now seeing on full display in the online press chat WHY having a diverse press core is so important.
Helpful Facts, via Georgetown Law
- Adults view black girls as more adult-like and less innocent than white girls.
- Adultification is linked to harsher treatment and higher standards for black girls in school.
- Negative stereotypes of black women as angry, aggressive and hypersexualized are projected onto black girls.
- Adults attempt to change black girls’ behavior to be more passive.
- Adults have less empathy for black girls than their white peers.
- Nationally (in America), black girls are suspended more than five times as often white girls, and black girls are 2.7 times more likely to be referred to the juvenile justice system than their white peers.
As a Black woman and mother to a young daughter, I found myself so deeply concerned by the commentary surrounding Destiny’s styling. All of the points above are from a 2017 Georgetown University study called, “Girlhood Interrupted”. The above findings ring SO true in the online press chat and digital timelines of some Eurovision “fans”.
Earlier in the Eurovision season, I was surprised and equally disheartened by the “broccoli” jokes referring to the triumphant lyrics “Yu no man broko mi” of The Netherlands’ entry from Jeangu Macrooy. The song is hailing the “Birth Of A New Age,” but make no mistake, the undercurrent in the press chat and a few nasty thumb thugs (or trolls) is reminding me of an old age… We are supposed to be celebrating culture, diversity and music on the Eurovision stage. Are people so tone-deaf they can’t see why equating the line of a Black immigrant saying “You Will Not Break Me” to a vegetable is problematic?
As one of the most critical Eurovision bloggers in the space, I make a point to keep my critiques fair. I give notes to any and everyone (my “favorites” tend to get the most notes), and I realize that my desire for perfection is as much about my competitive nature and love of the Contest as it is a tool I developed to navigate and find success in a white world. I wasn’t able to just do the bare minimum EVER in life. I know what it is like to be singled out by superiors, while my white peers sailed through with no detection. I was raised in a society where I had to be perfect just to get the minimum recognition while my white peers were exulted for doing the bare minimum.
So bringing this back to Eurovision 2021, one could say that folks were lying in wait to tear down Malta because it was the betting odds’ favorite and people are thirsty for a “surprise” winner. One could say that the broccoli jokes were just a casual case of “misheard lyrics”. At the end of the day, there’s no denying that there is a contrast in how the performers of color are being judged by some. This isn’t the first year it has happened, but with a record number of people of color performing on the stage, the microaggressions and biases feel amplified.