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Beyoncé: 'The onus is on everyone to study and understand what a lack of privilege really means'

I’m not surprised that women are leading change, writes Elva Carri.

Elva Carri

I LOVE BEYONCÉ. Lemonade is my favourite album of all time.

I’m not the biggest Adele fan but I will admit to standing on a chair, alone on my balcony, belting out Set Fire to the Rain (in the rain) after a bad breakup. But what I’m an even bigger fan of is her Grammy non-acceptance speech.

Check your bias

What Adele did at the Grammys should remind us all to check our egos and bias at the door, have our eyes open and our words ever-ready to say, “Hey! This isn’t right!”

Thanks to Adele’s very public show of this, my hope is that other people are inspired to do the same. I believe it is wildly important to claim your awards and revel in them as a woman and we’re holding a crowning-ceremony at this year’s SXSW to encourage that.

But if there’s something unjust at play as we walk to a stage, or accept a promotion or pay rise, we must speak up.

The statistics

The 59th Annual Grammy Awards - Show I was proud to watch Adele acknowledge Beyoncé's boundary breaking work of genius. Source: Matt Sayles

In the last twenty years, four artists or groups of colour have won album of the year – despite having over 200 perform at the awards in the same time period. The number seems off-balance. Are the awards based more on commercial success than artistic merit? And does the performative aspect of the annual ceremony offer a platform to showcase a more diverse set of artists than US album sales reflect? Or is there still bias at play in the selection?

I’ve heard a great phrase that you can tell the strong women because they’re the ones helping other women up. I’d take that a step further to note the collective power women have for lifting everyone up.

If you educate and empower the women and girls of a community, it benefits everyone economically as well as positively contributing to climate change problems. This is laid out in a wonderful book called Half the Sky, as well as being reinforced by studies from The World Bank, World Economic Forum, and the OECD.

Empathy and action

Misery loves company used to be a saying I hated, but when it comes to my women friends, I see it take an interesting form. Pain understands pain.

If you’ve faced misogyny as a white woman, it’s probably a smaller leap to understand the struggle of a man or a woman who’s faced racism, than it would be for your average straight, white man.

That’s not to say they’re excused, the onus is on everyone to study and understand what a lack of privilege really means and to put genuine effort and time into looking at how they deal with it, both internally, in forms of unconscious bias, as well as externally, in calling out or rectifying unjust actions or behaviours.

But I’m not surprised that women are leading change.

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Emotion and onwards

That moment may seem like just another celebrity news story to some, but it made me feel proud to be a woman and proud of my friends. I was proud to watch Adele acknowledge Beyoncé’s boundary breaking work of genius in a situation where others wouldn’t have braved it, even if they felt it. (Bar Kanye West of course.)

I was proud of my friends because the look on Beyoncé’s face as Adele spoke was the very same one I’ve seen on countless friends’ faces. That brief fragile moment when a friend crumbles and cracks as you merely acknowledge that what happened wasn’t fair, wasn’t right, wasn’t okay.

Reminding them that it does not denote their value or worth, before both of you take a breath, hug it out, put your crown on and walk onto the stage to perform.

Elva Carri is the founder of GirlCrew, an online and offline social network for women to have more fun, more adventures, and friends when you need them as well as providing an excellent space for professional advice and opportunities. GirlCrew has over 80,000 members and operates in 46 cities around the world, with a GirlCrew app launching in 2017. @elvacarri

Adele on her Grammy wins: ‘My idol is Queen Bey and I adore you’>

‘There isn’t a race problem’: Grammy President responds to criticism after Beyoncé loses out to Adele>

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Elva Carri

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