British singer Harry Styles won the highly coveted album of the year at the Grammys this year.
He won for “Harry’s House,” beating out Beyonce, Lizzo, and others.
The Associated Press reports the portion of Styles’ speech that came under fire:
While accepting the award, he said, “This is really, really kind. I’m so, so grateful… I’m just so — This doesn’t happen to people like me very often. And this is so, so nice. Thank you very, very much.”
The line, “this doesn’t happen to people like me very often,” drew criticism in the hours after his win.
Former NPR host Sam Sanders fired off a series of tweets on the phrase that garnered over 1.3 million views. He appears to believe Styles didn’t deserve the award because of his skin color.
“‘This doesn’t happen to people like me’ is the most white privilege-iest thing to ever be uttered at an awards show ever for all time,” Sanders said.
“This doesn’t happen to people like me” is the most white privilege-iest thing to ever be uttered at an awards show ever for all time— Sam Sanders (@samsanders) February 6, 2023
He also compared the phrase to “what the Karen says before she calls the cops on you for no reason,” “what the guy whose dad got him the job says when he gets that bullshit award at work,” and “what the legacy admit says when they get a full ride.”
Ashley Smalls, a Black feminism and pop culture doctoral student at Penn State University, tweeted, “Saying ‘this doesn’t happen to people like me very often’ when a Black woman hasn’t won that award since 1999 is crazy lol”
Another user wrote, “A black woman hasn’t won in over 20 years and a Hip Hop artist hasn’t won in 19 years. A white man won in 2015.”
Critics focused on skin color, not the content of his character, and certainly not his skills or album sales.