India.Arie calls out racism, sexism in the music industry

The four-time Grammy winner says she will "never heal" from some of the egregious things she has endured in her career.

India.Arie has seen a lot during her two decades in the music industry. While she’s had success, the singer/songwriter took to social media to get some things off her chest about how shady the music business has been over the years.

In a series of Instagram stories, the platinum-selling singer wrote that she was set off by looking at some of her older photos. “Seeing old pictures reminds me how trash the music industry is,” Arie wrote. “SHEER and utter trash.”

Black Girls Rock 2019 Hosted By Niecy Nash - Red Carpet
India.Arie attends Black Girls Rock 2019 on Aug. 25, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET)

Arie then criticized the industry for its being a toxic environment. “The music industry is racist. sexist. deceitful. It steals from artists. Trash.”

Arie has always addressed these types of issues with her platform. On “Video,” the lead single from her 2001 debut album, Acoustic Soul, she denounced stereotypical imagery in Black music.

The “Strength, Courage & Wisdom” singer then got personal, posting about how the industry has personally affected her. “I’ll never heal from all of it,” Arie wrote. “Because some of it shaped my life in ways I can’t get back.”

Arie has not been shy about ways that the industry has mistreated her. In 2002, she had the second most Grammy nominations with seven nods for Acoustic Soul. However, she walked away with no awards.

Although the Recording Academy instituted the Best Contemporary Urban category the following year, which she won for her follow-up Voyage to India, the damage was done.

During a 2013 episode of SuperSoul Sunday with Oprah Winfrey, Arie said that although the Grammy snub had a positive effect on her album sales and critical acclaim, it sowed seeds of doubt in her. “All I felt was, ‘maybe I’m not meant to have all of that,'” Arie said, admitting she briefly felt that she didn’t “deserve” to win.

India Arie
(Photo: Getty Images)

Although Arie’s post did pivot to her affirming her love for herself and that her journey had to help get her to that place, she reiterated that the industry did a number on her.

“The industry made me feel like I wasn’t beautiful,” she posted.

Arie’s signature look has always been her natural hair, be it braided or cut short. She’s also worn head wraps and less-revealing clothes, the antithesis of the scantily clad, oversexualized Black female singers that dominate the industry.

She would again express her opinion through song, with the single, “I Am Not My Hair,” from her 2006 album, Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship. The album was her first to reach number one on the Billboard 200.

In the end, Arie posted that she had “grown free” and that the “journey was all worth it.” She thanked “everyone in the industry who hurt, used, sued, played, stole from, betrayed” her.

However, just when she was about to take the high road, she posted a golden hand giving the middle finger.

Have you subscribed to the Grio podcasts “Dear Culture” or “Acting Up?” Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download theGrio today!