On ‘Masters of the Game,’ Lenny Kravitz explains what he really wants from Black media: ‘I’d like to be at the table’

OPINION: “I grew up around an abundance of Blackness, proud Blackness. I just want to be at the table with my brothers and sisters," the rock legend told theGrio.

CFDA Fashion Awards - Arrivals
Lenny Kravitz attends the CFDA Fashion Awards at Casa Cipriani on November 07, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Last year, Lenny Kravitz criticized Black award shows, and I was so here for it. I totally agreed. In late 2023, he told Esquire, “To this day, I have not been invited to a BET thing or a Source Awards thing. Here is a Black artist who has reintroduced many Black art forms, who has broken down barriers — just like those that came before me broke down. That is positive. And they don’t have anything to say about it?”

His critique was spot on. And it’s not about picking on a particular outlet — most of the Black entertainment media has allowed a sort of segregation to happen. Everyone says that Blackness is fluid and takes on many forms, but then we celebrate some forms of Blackness and forget all about others. In music, it’s especially clear that certain kinds of Blackness are put on a pedestal above other kinds. We love our Black MCs and our Black soul singers, but do we love our Black rock and roll stars? Don’t they deserve love, too? Kravitz thinks so.

“I’d like to be at the table,” Kravitz told me. The table he’s talking about is the culture. He just wants to be a part of the culture. He wants to be included alongside other Black music superstars and not be left out because he’s not in hip-hop or R&B. He wants to be at the table because he’s been a part of the culture his whole life. “I grew up around an abundance of Blackness, proud Blackness. I just want to be at the table with my brothers and sisters.”

Music

Kravitz’s rock and roll is a reminder that rock and roll was originally a Black art form. He sometimes has Black kids on the street asking why he makes white music because they don’t understand that rock was originally a Black art form. One can hardly play rock without referencing its Black originators like Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and, of course, Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Rock is a critical part of the Black music world. Kravitz is a critical part of that world. Black music media has got to include him. He’s a legend. Watch the latest episode of “Masters of the Game,” streaming now on theGrio and theGrio app.


Touré, theGrio.com

Toure is a host and writer at TheGrio. He hosts the TheGrio TV show “Masters of the Game,” and he created the award-winning podcast “Being Black: The ’80s” and its upcoming sequel “Being Black: The ’70s.” He is also the creator of “Star Stories” and the author of eight books, including “Nothing Compares 2 U an oral history of Prince.” He also hosts a podcast called “Toure Show.” He is also a husband and a father of two.

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