The Recording Academy and Color of Change, the largest online racial justice organization in the U.S., have announced a partnership to “promote positive social change within the music industry.” The Academy announced to members last month that it has made a $1 million donation to Color of Change.
According to the announcement, the organizations will “work together to identify key opportunities to drive and influence change in the music industry, and will be dedicated to building power for Black music creators and professionals. This work will span several strategies, including the creation of a Black music advisory group, a membership campaign focusing on the Black music community to drive new voting members to the Academy, an industrywide diversity and inclusion summit, and partnership in advocacy and legislative efforts. Additionally, Color of Change will provide advisory support on the development and implementation of the Academy’s previously announced industry Inclusion Rider and Toolkit, which will be introduced in later in 2020.
“We wanted to make sure that not only were we investing in Color of Change, which is one part of the larger strategy, but that we’re being good partners with the industry and the people we need to lock arms with for the long term,” said Valeisha Butterfield Jones, the Academy’s chief diversity and inclusion officer. “We have to keep the drumbeat going, and the brilliant work of Color of Change inspired us to be partners in what we can do year-round to amplify the voices of Black creators and share the stories and experiences of creators in the Black community. The Academy is a 63-year-old organization that’s ready for change — we’re ready to do the necessary work, and this is just the beginning. We know we can’t do it alone, and partnership is how we’re going to get there.”
She noted that the Black music advisory group is separate from but will work alongside the Academy’s Task Force for Diversity and Inclusion, which was founded in 2018 and is headed by Tina Tchen.
Color of Change executive director Rashad Robinson added, “We’re happy to be partners with the Academy and we’re looking forward to the work ahead and the changes that we’ll be able to make. The industry that fuels so much of how we see music is very connected in terms of the issues that are important, and we’re excited to be a part of that and we’re focused on the work ahead.”
Asked how they feel the music industry is doing in this time of social change, Butterfield Jones said, “I’m very proud of the music industry’s response and most importantly its swift action — to see so many companies take a stand and use their voices during this moment has really been inspiring.”
Robinson added, “I think Valeisha being hired is a result of the industry recognizing that they had to put resources and intention behind what they want to see in the world, and I’m really happy that they brought someone on that has experience in this work and a commitment to trying to see results through.”