There has been an ongoing conversation about racism in country music throughout the past few years and this week, Luke Bryan shared his thoughts on the topic.
The country superstar and American Idol judge recently appeared on a Television Critics Association panel alongside fellow Idol cohort Lionel Richie, where they were asked about racism within the country music genre as well as a lack of diversity on Idol.
According to Insider, the “Up” singer acknowledged that while racism exists in the genre, however, the issue goes beyond country music.
“First of all, there’s racism throughout the whole country,” Bryan said. “To just sit here and single out country music as some kind of racist format is not altogether natural and true.”
Bryan continued, “I’ve been privy to various board meetings where we recognize our problems as an industry, and things take time. I think this country learns every day about the severity of racism. And like I said, I think sometimes you have to open your eyes and understand other people’s side of the story.”
Reporters then shifted the topic of conversation to Morgan Wallen, who was filmed using a racial slur in early 2021.
“You bring up the Morgan situation — that’s a situation that I think country music and the industry is doing everything they can to recognize, and these things take time,” he said, according to Insider. “They take time in the National Football League. They take time as a country.”
The panel came just days after Wallen appeared at the Grand Ole Opry for the first time since the controversy. His appearance sparked outrage on Twitter and prompted artists such as Jason Isbell to speak out about it.
“First of all, country music, they’re not racist. Personally, I’ve never seen that,” she said, adding, “I’ve just never experienced that.”
The “Baytown” singer came under fire on social media with many Twitter users calling her out for downplaying the experiences that Black people and people of color face within country music.
As for the solution to problem, Bryan said, “I think we are going to grow, and you are going to see tremendous changes.”
When it comes to American Idol, Bryan and Richie agreed that they don’t allow a contestant’s race or sexuality impact any decisions that are made on the show.
“We represent America and the music business and we come from very different walks of life,” Richie said. “But at the same time, we can come together and celebrate one thing: Each other.”
“We look at them with an open heart and an open mind,” Bryan added. “And do you know what? For the most part, I’m proud [that] we feel like our viewers at home are doing the exact same thing. Are we ever going to bat a thousand? Never. But we damn sure work hard to give everybody love.”
Bryan wrapped up the conversation assuring that he, Richie and fellow Idol judge Katy Perry “don’t care” what the contestants look like when they audition for the show. That’s because for them, it’s all about the music.