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New report highlights intersectional bias facing black disabled people in music

By | Published on Thursday 22 June 2023

Black Lives In Music and Attitude Is Everything have published a new report exploring the experiences of black music-makers and music industry professionals with disabilities or long-term health conditions.

Utilising data from research undertaken by Black Lives In Music in 2021, alongside a series of new interviews, the report includes input from 99 music-makers and 50 people working within the industry. Titled ‘Unseen Unheard’, BLIM says the report highlights “pronounced instances of intersectional bias facing black disabled people in music”.

Among other things, it reveals that 74% of the black disabled music-makers surveyed felt there are specific barriers to success in the industry because of their race or ethnicity, compared to 58% of black non-disabled music-makers. Meanwhile, 81% of black disabled music-makers do not feel there is a clear career trajectory or path for them, and only 8% said they had felt supported through each career stage.

Of all the 149 people surveyed, only 38% felt that diversity and inclusion is really a priority for the music industry, and 91% said they felt unsatisfied with how they are supported by the business.

As well as the stats, the report also includes a number of calls to action for talent development organisations, music industry funders, industry support services, education providers and industry employers.

Commenting on the report, BLIM CEO Charisse Beaumont says: “’Unseen Unheard’ is another first of its kind report which will aid in reframing the music industry. The report highlights the intersectional barriers black disabled music creators and professionals face daily and what we as members of the music ecosystem can do to address these barriers”.

“The landscape feels like it is changing in some ways”, she goes on.” We have seen a reversal by organisations and the government of the commitments they made in 2020. However, what is encouraging is that we are seeing bold individuals and organisations who are resolute in demonstrating to the world that inclusion and authenticity is the new normal”.

Attitude Is Everything founder Suzanne Bull adds: “The report’s sobering findings highlight the many ways in which black disabled talent is being held back. This needs to urgently change. We need to see the ‘diversity’ conversation take place on conference stages, industry forums and boardrooms, not just in the meetings and spaces marked for the ‘diversity discussion’, but as the integral part of all conversations”.

“This is the way”, she continues, “that black disabled people will be enabled to speak truth to power, showcase their skills and talent, and pursue ambitions free of the barriers which are artificially created for the benefit of no one within the industry”.

You can download the report here.