Latin American culture is not Latin. It is not Iberian. Not Portuguese or Spanish. It is, in essence, truly African and Indigenous. It is the original people, the Natives no matter where they can be found, and the enslaved Africans who changed the faces and the cultures of their region. The propaganda which lies behind the promotion of a Latin culture and symbolized by a “Latinos Unidos” is problematic. It is rooted, in the end, in a desire to remain united and close to a white Iberian identity, almost feeling proud of carrying the blood of the rapists, the attackers.
The colonizers fear to be exposed and be rejected. As a thief of lands and illegitimate entity which has no place in the continent in the first place, he needs to erase the original Native entity and replace it as the original founders and creators of all great things of the sphere. The colonial Spanish/Portuguese entity is like a leech with no substance which has to remain attached to any form of creativity produced by the people formerly conquered. Indeed, why can’t we share cultures in a space where everybody is mixed race? Isn’t it the power of being “Latino”, eventually?
The Spaniards and Portuguese never brought nothing new to the sphere despite tears and anguish. Their only power remains political in their ability to forge systems which have allowed generations of Black and Brown people to remain at the bottom. It is the Africans and Indigenous Natives who created the music you like be it dembow, reggae, reggaeton, merengue, bachata, musica llanera, cumbia, salsa, son, rumba, funk, axe, samba, soca, kompa, zouk and many more yet these same people have been raised to deny their heritage, despise themselves and their ancestors to fit in with the White Latinos.
Contrary to what people can argue, it is totally fine and normal as a black or brown Central, South or Caribbean person to be angry upon seeing the visible whitewashing of musical genres which were originally ours. It is totally okay for White people to sing these genres but it becomes a problem when only White people become the faces of musical genres they never created. It is unacceptable to have frauds such as Claudia Leitte, Daniela Mercury (who is comfortable in black face and call herself an “African woman with white skin” all the while exploiting music from Bahia), Karol Gs, Rosalia and many more when the original creators are still here but forced to remain in the back.
White people in the music industry have always been extremely jealous of black people’s talents and do not like to promote singers and musicians who surpass them. Actually, slavery was never analyzed through the lens or prospect of jealousy from the Europeans towards the Africans and the Natives. Their ferocity could probably be explained by their inability to top the essence of those they conquered.
Music is politics and in this sense, the whitewashing of music is the Latin technique to promote a good vivre ensemble (live together) where nobody is discriminated against but where the colonizers exploit what is not theirs originally.
The same case can be applied to France, another Latin country with a horrific colonial past. West Indians and French immigrants were behind the greatest forms of French hip-hop but the genre is intellectually theorized by White French leftists journalists like Olivier Cachin or fraudulent movie directors such as Matthieu Kassovitz, Frank Gastambide, who do not like having African scholars write on such topics linked to that of life in the French ghetto. The Latin conquistador knows about the cultural, physical power of the conquered and let them create. Yet, once the genres become famous, he will have a say and promote white faces who sound like or sing like Blacks.
The same issue is present in Portugal today where, contrary to France, Black Portuguese are made to be invisible, are excluded from Lisbon and the first victims of gentrification. Though the Cape-Verdean, Mozambican, Guinean immigrants among others have had a tremendous culture and a great musical heritage, it is always white Portuguese rappers, singers or dancers who represent African traditions, not the immigrants themselves. The same enslaved Africans dispatched in Lisbon in the 17th century who created fado, the well-known Portuguese genre. It is the same African slaves who, along with the Gypsies, created flamenco around the same time. Yet, the new face of flamenco today is a white Spaniard, thief Rosalia who took the spot and place of socially excluded Gypsies living in the south of Spain. She was born and raised in Barcelona and does not even have any blood attach to Sevilla, yet, she thought it was “white” (right) for her to exploit such culture and the Gypsy aesthetics to remain relevant, simply because she “studied” flamenco for three years. (Minorities until this day have a hard time understanding that the conquistadores actually study them and have been doing so since 1492. Rosalia is no more different than her thief Latin ancestors.)
Race mixing is just a tool which eventually allows the conqueror to say “I was there too”, this is my culture too.
The real problem remains in the silence of these white singers performing black music in times of political crisis. They would justify their opportunism by using the Veronica Vega argument of “We aaaaaaall mixed” but will never step up to denounce the racism not only in the United States but in their own colonized countries. Maluma, Bad Bunny (whatever his name is), Karol G and the others never speak out against racism, but only like to exploit Afro-Indigenous music for fun. Actually, once the issues of favoritism, and privilege are being brought up, the white artists need to take a step back and think about a new strategy to put an end to the exploitation of black artists. And most of these White Latin singers hide behind the duty of their profession to stay away from issues regarding racial discrimination.
In reality, most genres created that white people dance to today were originally rooted in black love, acceptance and social protests. Born in Panama, reggaeton, or reggae in Spanish was created by Black and Brown Panamanians. The genre was later exported to Puerto-Rico within the poorest areas where the same black and brown people used it as a music of protest. In the 1990s, the genre was even made illegal in the colonized island. Black artists such as Tego Calderon, Ivy Queen, La Negra (not Amara yet, but La Negra another reggaetonera), Los Rakas in Panama had a lot to say regarding their social issues and gender discrimination. Up until the mid 2000s, the Black and Brown originators of the movements were still visible. Artists like N.O.R.E, Fat Joe featured in videos to honor the culture where all Caribbean and Southern Americans were represented, including Natives and Africans. Women such as the twin sisters who form Nina Sky or Kat De Luna were involved in the movement and really contributed to the unification of both Black and Brown people. WHINE UP became the Caribbean anthem of many of us. Yet, as soon as the global politics emerged, so did white faces.
Yet, fifteen years later, in our times, the movement has been totally whitewashed by the media. By the time Shakira released Hips Don’t Lie and La Tortura, the sign was here. The white establishment had found the new white face for black music. In 2010, Shakira was found guilty of lies regarding the origins of Waka Waka. Though originally from Cameroon, Mebarak lied and claimed to have created the song on her balcony.
Two years later during the Miami Superbowl, Shakira was once again appointed along with thief Jennifer Lopez, another culture vulture, to highlight “Latin” culture. Yet again, the Colombian singer used her power to give visibility to Black Colombians and Afro-Colombian cultures through champeta and mapalé. (and that was very good of her to do that, you could not count on J.lo for sure). The presence of Shakira was similar to that of a mother or entity which would ease the heart of the white audience as the industry always needs a white figure to validate the black culture they stole.
Due to this manipulation, many modern “Latinized” Caribbeans and South Americans consider African rhythms to be “Latin” when in essence it is African yes, but also Indigenous. Once again, through music, the erasure and genocide is still present.
However, with the emergence of the Internet, social media and other fields it is the duty of scholars, activists, artists, poets, singers, designers and anybody to expose such problematics and also financially support the Black and Brown groups which contribute to the greatness of what the elders did create. Because, nobody can sing with the soul and passion delivered by Black and Brown Latinized communities.
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