NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Country music radio stations, organizations, artists and labels are taking a stance after one of the industries biggest names was caught on camera using a racial slur.
The move comes after video of multi-platinum artist Morgan Wallen surfaced, showing the 27-year-old returning to his Nashville home after a night out with friends and using the slur to describe someone else.
Those in the country music industry who have been working on bringing social justice to the platform say Wallen’s actions are devastating for the industry.
Beverly Keel Dean of the College of Media and Entertainment at Middle Tennessee State University explained, “It just sickened us. What this did is reinforced all of the stereotypes about country music as being the soundtrack for white southern racist America and it is unacceptable.”
Female country artists were the first to sound off against Wallen’s actions online.
“They are leading the social justice movement on Music Row,” said Keel.
Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris and Mickey Guyton are among the women that went to Twitter to speak out.
“They are taking a strong, bold stand that even could have some career ramifications, but to them social justice is that important and I’m very proud of them for doing that. The question should be where are the white male artists? Why aren’t they speaking out? The time is now. We’ve got to speak out louder and more often until that message resonates across America that there is no room for racism in country music,” Keel stated.
Organizations like CMT and CMA pulled Wallen’s digital content, while the ACM banned the singer from receiving an award this year. Wallen’s label, Big Loud, also suspended his contract indefinitely.
“I’m proud of the reaction we are seeing from the Nashville music community, because they are taking a stand and saying there is no room for hate in country music,” said Keel.
The reaction was swift, something Keel said she doesn’t believe would have been the case over a year ago.
“It shows you how far our nation has come in a year following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and others following the January 6th insurgency. We do have a new awakening in America, but it’s not enough so we have to keep listening and learning.”
That’s exactly what many hope Wallen does next – listens and learns.
“It’s too early to see yet if this is a major setback to just a blip in his career, but I honestly, I hope he will have meaningful dialogue with members of the African American community to learn the damage and pain associated with that word and why he should never use that word under any circumstances,” said Keel.
Wallen issued an apology to TMZ after they obtained the controversial video. However, he was silent Wednesday on social media.
Wallen’s publicist said they would release a statement, but have still yet to do so.