BMI accused of having culture of 'casual racism'

Updated: Mar 3, 2021

Senior execs of BMI - the US performing-rights organisation - are being accused of making “casual racist remarks”. The claims are primarily focused on former vice president of creative relations, Doreen Ringer-Ross.

In March, Ringer-Ross posted a picture of a pool party in China on Facebook with the caption "Couldn’t deal with it then, now just makes me scream and recoil". The comment came during a time of rising hate towards people of Chinese descent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gingger Shankar, a composer who used to work with Ringer-Ross, spoke up about the Facebook post. Explaining that Asian-Americans were receiving a lot of hateful- and even violent comments right now and asked Ringer-Ross to not post things like this.

It wasn’t the first time Ringer-Ross made a distasteful comment on social media. In 2018, she posted a picture of her South Asian cab driver’s license and registration information on Facebook, along with the caption “Heading to JFK now”. Others commented on the post, making jokes at the driver’s expense or worrying for Ringer-Ross’ safety. In response, Shankar wrote an email to BMI President Mike O’Neill, asking:

“Is this how the head of the composer department is supposed to deal with other ethnicities? Making fun of a Sikh man who drives a cab? Encouraging her followers to do the same? … This kind of uneducated racism is disgusting to see from the head of the film/TV department at BMI, who represents many composers from many parts of the world.”

The comments by Ringer-Ross weren't just confined to her Facebook page. In 2014 she was involved with planning an award show. One of the categories of this show was for composers who worked on Spanish-language programming. During one of the meetings Ringer-Ross reportedly said:

“Why don’t they just award those at the Latin awards? Can’t they go shake their maracas for them there?”

Ringer-Ross isn’t the only BMI executive which has made some unsavoury comments. Barbara Cane, a long time BMI employee and the current vice president, once stated she preferred white doctors over doctors with other ethical backgrounds. This was during a routine meeting about the company's medical benefits, in front of multiple witnesses and even a representative from BMI’s human resource department. During the meeting she complained about BMI's health plan not offering enough Caucasian doctors, just "Asian's or Indian's". She later apologised for the comments. According to a number of employees, Cane made other racist remarks before.

During a town hall event last June, BMI President Mike O’Neill acknowledged the company has a long way to go to be more inclusive. He stated that his company is moving in the right direction and believes they are making progress, but too slow and not enough.


Source: Rolling Stone