David Bowie Once Challenged MTV For Refusing To Play Black Artists

by
Jessica Renae Buxbaum
Upset over MTV’s whitewashing, Bowie confronted the channel about their racism in an interview.The exchange is a powerful reminder of the rock singer’s courage.

David Bowie

As the world mourns the loss of the legendary pop icon who died from cancer at age 69 on Sunday, fans are remembering the incredible legacy David Bowie left not just for the rock n’ roll industry but for social justice as well. 

In the 1980s, MTV received a slew of backlash for refusing to play African-American artists’ music. When the “edgy” network didn’t air Rick James “Super Freak,” the artist called out the blatant discrimination in an interview with Rolling Stone.

"Me and every one of my peers — Earth, Wind, and Fire, Stevie Wonder, the Gap Band, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson — have great videos. Why doesn't MTV show them?” James said.

Bowie, upset over MTV’s whitewashing, then challenged MTV veejay Mark Goodman about the channel’s racism in an on-air interview. The exchange is making waves online as a powerful reminder of the rock singer’s unabashed courage. 

After the tense conversation, MTV must have listened because months later the network released Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and “Thriller.”

Bowie was never one to let one’s discomfort or conventional norms pressure him to shy away from being his authentic self, and this confrontation recognizes the fearless impact the star had against a conformist society.

Hopefully, we can all learn from Bowie not to let society dictate who we are. 

Read more: 7 Times David Bowie Owned The World

Banner image credit: Reuters

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