Breaking Down Racial Barriers:
Anti-Black Racism in the Canadian Music Industry - Volume 1
2020 provided an unprecedented and eye-opening look at the systemic racism experienced by Black people worldwide.
Born of the collective frustration of a lifetime of conversations on the inequitable treatment of Black people in a music industry built on the blood, sweat and tears of Black music practitioners, professionals and creatives, Breaking Down Racial Barriers (BDRB) was initiated as a community roundtable series on anti-Black racism in the Canadian music industry.
Precipitated and catalyzed by the combination of the racial reckoning created by the Black Lives Matter movement, the police killing of George Floyd and the viral impact of #BlackOutTuesday, BDRB set out to conduct meaningful conversations leading to actionable, measurable solutions to anti-Black racism in the Canadian music industry. Music industry mainstays Ian Andre Espinet and David “Click” Cox initiated, curated and coordinated “Breaking Down Racial Barriers” - a 100% Black-led roundtable discussion series on anti-Black racism in the Canadian music industry. CENTRED in the voices and lived experiences of working Black music professionals from the vast segments of the music industry, the BDRB roundtable was presented by the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA), supported by the newly formed ADVANCE, Canada's Black Music Business Collective, and assisted promotionally by CIMA peer and partner organizations from across the national industry.
The 10-week discussion series (August to October 2020) featured first-hand testimonials and experiences of over 60 Black music industry professionals from across the country and provided a harrowing look into the systematic, systemic, institutional racism and oppression entrenched in all aspects of the music industry's public and private sector ecosystem.
Each episode focused attention on a specific area of the music industry in which anti-Black racism persists and served to expose the web of intersections, which have, and continue to create systematic barriers to Black music professionals. The series examined anti-Blackness in key areas including economics, media, creative spaces and live events; barriers faced by artists and professionals within organizations, corporations and institutions; and the impact which racism has and continues to have on succession and retention of Black people in the industry.
Upon conclusion of the series, CIMA commissioned this report to summarize the findings of the roundtable series. It provides a snapshot of anti-Black racism in the Canadian music industry, the spaces in which it proliferates and persists, and its systemic, systematic and institutional causes. Finally, it provides recommendations to be implemented.