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Rosalia, The White Colonial Agent Of Black Latin Music


Globalism has killed traditional cultures and movements, whether within the white or black European groups. The rise of technology allowed each and every one of us to evolve more rapidly, reducing the then gigantic spectrum of the world, to a small fraction of land available to any one in a simple click. Since the entry in the new millennium, a child lost in Colombia can connect with a Boricua kid living in the Bronx, thanks to the power of the Internet, for the most fortunate.

If the issue of influence is often studied through the white on black spheres, no one mentions how the black groups evolving in the Northern sphere, hence wealthier, greatly impacted the ones living in the southern sphere of the world (the said Third World). As white European groups began to deny their traditional roots deemed primitive and unimportant as technological progress has been since considered the basis of one’s valid culture, both the descendants of enslaved Africans deported to the US and the African immigrants, either kept, despite the trauma of displacement, or re-created their own new cultures, though belonging to the poorest spheres of society. Therefore, a great portion of lost white individuals who came from poor backgrounds, felt a certain attraction to these black cultures and sub-cultures due to their absence of identity.

With the emergence of colonial profiles such as Rachel Dolezal or Jessica Krug who both lied about being partially black to interfere in black political spaces, the white groups of the Western sphere do suffer from a lack and loss of identity they will automatically try to dominate through a new theft of identity. As technology and capitalism further the idea of transgression, for the advancement of the capital as a political tool. Both men and women can change their biological sexes and white people will, through the irrationnal problematic of transracialism, also be able to change their races, and so, to the joy of millions of self-hating black Africans, whether in the US or in Europe, who wish whiteness was a new form of blackness.

Therefore, if one’s biological identity can be changed through the advancement of technology and capitalism, cultures, traditions and customs can be worn like a costume without any limit.

Rosalia embodies such problematic.

1 How The Concept of Latinidad Contributes To Anti-Blackness: Northern European vs Latin Colonizers

Native Arawaks were massacred and Africans tortured, but this doesn’t prevent many modern Boricuas from claiming the false colonial narrative promoting the fraudulent tri-racial myth./Pinterest

Latinidad is not a concept forged in the idea of true unity and equality, but it is the Spanish, Portuguese, thus, Latin version of white supremacy through the spectrum of racial admixture and a false appearance of equality. This ideology was developed by the southern European colonizers to further their colonial and brutal policies in both South America and Africa. The purpose of Latinidad is to place both the Native and African clans under the domination of the white Latin European colonizers to which their identities, essence and heritages will be tied forever.

The promoters of Latinidad want their colonized subjects to embrace, recognise, and define their identity through a proximity to whiteness, elevation and thus superiority. The first argument used to define Latinidad relies upon the promotion of a tri-racial myth. Despite racism and colonialism, many modern Dominicans, Boricuas, Cubans or even Colombians believe in the false myth that three races came together to create their nations. This tale reduces the brutality regarding the barbarity of Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian colonialism in Latin America. The invasions were marked by a Native American genocide, the establishment of slavery, rape, attacks, torture, policies of racial admixture to eradicate blackness, but also the genocide of black groups as illustrated by the history of Argentina.

Then, the second element which characterizes Latinidad is the refusal of the colonizers to allow their colonized subjects to gatekeep or protect themselves. Preservation is a threat to them for the symbol of political organization. The Natives and Africans are forced and were conditioned to share what they have, since the concept of Latinidad based upon the concept of tri-racialism means that what belongs to the Natives and Africans, also belongs to the white colonizers.

Due to years of enslavement which led to a deep feeling of low self esteem and self-hatred, many black musicians in the Latinized world eventually accept the exploitation they endure as they judge it to be a form of appreciation from the Spaniards who reign as masters.

Though the two groups were white, the technique of colonization greatly differed between the Northern European and Southern European colonizers. The Northerners were always disgusted by the idea of racial admixture and mostly used brutality towards the Natives and the Africans to steal their resources. Racist policies such as the One Drop Rule are a proof of it. Wherever the Northern European powers went to colonize, they favored the structure of apartheid.

Due to this violence regarding their obsession with remaining pure through separation, the black groups which were crushed by their Northern European colonizers were allowed to gatekeep and claim the cultures they created. Despite the racist institutions, no white American could ever claim that jazz, hip-hop, R’n’B, Soul, Blues are not black in essence. Yet, if black Africans created salsa, merengue, rumba, axe, samba, the white colonizers still present as the co-founders of Afro-Indigenous genres they never formed in the first place.

Thus, behind the false idea of equality opposed to the strict racist US structures where races are separated, Latin structures do contribute to theft, colonialism and black erasure by any means necessary. In that sense, a black man who creates will be forced to share his creation in the name of a fake tri-racial identity which does not exist. This colonial reality helps us understand why profiles similar to Rosalia have emerged over the past few years.

2 The Improbable Identity of Rosalia

Photo Credit IG @rosalia.vt

Rosalia is a thief and a colonial agent. Over the past five years since she exploded internationnally, her identity fluctuated. Upon releasing her first album, she stole gimmicks, attitude, words, phrases and tones which directly came from the Roma people living in Andalusia. She played with ambiguity as well. With her long nails, aesthetics often panned by the good white Spanish society as being “ghetto” but used by many Roma women who are despised and curly dark hair, Rosalia was first thought to be an Andalusian. In reality, the singer was born to a father from Asturias, in the Northern area of Spain (the Asturian culture is Celt) and a mother from Barcelona, of Catalan roots. In that sense, Rosalia Vila is a pure white woman who has flirted with the exciting idea of exoticism through the theft of Roma culture in order to give herself some street credibility. In a 2018 interview, she claimed that her paternal great-grandfather was Cuban, without clarifying if the latter was of Spanish descent or not. This evokation was another way for her to place herself at the center of exoticism.

As two authors from the Peina Revuelta online website reveal, flamenco, the first genre exploited by Rosalia, was never Spanish, but Roma.

That’s what Flamenco is: the mourn of Romani people because of their heartbreaking persecution story; the living voice of Andalusia, impoverished land, moorish heritage streets, home of farm laborers, the forgotten ones. Flamenco is NOT Spanish. Spain has actually taken andalusian-gypsy culture as «Spanish culture», but that’s stealing. They laugh about andalusian accent and consider it an ignorance mark, but then they imitate it when they sing Flamenco. I mean, if you (an andalusian) study Journalism and want to work in Madrid, you really have to hide your accent. But if you are from Barcelona and pretend to speak Andalusian when you sing, you will be seen as a delicate soul. We are suffering from an institutional racism here, they are denying who we are. Spain is erasing us from our very art, art which essence has always been our survival voice.
Rosalía has constantly tried to disassociate Flamenco from Roma culture, but everyone here knows it has a racial meaning, a home land and a social statement: the poor who have nothing, and even that gets denied for them.”

Rosalia stealing from the Gypsy aesthetic, before colonizing Afro Dominican spaces/Christopher Anderson/Magnum, for The New York Times

This specific reaction from the two authors who describe themselves as Gitanas and Roma activists, reveals that the Latin colonizers began to operate through the system of Latinidad, thus whitewashing, within the realm of Spain itself towards the minorities deemed inferior from whom the culture was used to represent the culture nationally, while the members remained crushed and looked down upon. Rosalia was aware of it and showed it clearly through her evolution.

The singer was never Andalusian by blood at all. She is not mixed-race and was not born into the culture of flamenco. She rather “studied” it at the university. Like Rachel Dolezal or Jessica Krug, two other colonial agents, white intruders always infiltrate themselves through the door or elitism and want to reach the bottom for their own elevation for knowing that their whiteness would make them valuable and elevated in the broken black and brown spheres.

Rosalia knows about the dynamic of racism in her own country regarding the treatment of the white institutions she descends from towards the crushed Roma people. She knows that her whiteness will eventually wash her away from the negative association often tied to the Roma linked to crime and primitism. If Roma singers sing from the heart regarding the pain of their structures, Rosalia stole this essence to turn it into an aesthetic of fashion for credibility.

If flamenco, which was a Roma, African and North African Jewish creation was elevated by the white Spaniards as their symbol, they have kept their same disdain towards the originators of this culture. And Rosalia, though playing dumb, knows about this reality she entertains.

Black pioneers of reggaeton in Puerto-Rico
El General, Panamian pioneer

Then, since the release of her second album, the singer abandoned any connection to flamenco. Now that the late 2010s were marked by the rise of a whitewashed Afro-Latin culture while the orchestrated Black Lives Matter movements took place, Rosalia, like the other white cultural colonizers from South America and the Caribbean, became the whitewashed face of a genre which was originated by black people.

The roots of reggaeton are not confusing at all. It was always black. Jamaica was the birthplace of dancehall, and that genre was later reused in Panama within the black social groups where it was known as “reggae en espanol”. (Spanish reggae). El General, an Afro-Panamanian now a pastor, was one of the first originators. Then, the style was exported to Puerto-Rico, the Dominican Republic and the Bronx, due to the heavy Dominican and Boricua presence there. Upon arriving in Puerto-Rico, it was first censored and then commercialised, losing its black essence for replaced by white Latinos in order to make it global. As of late 2010s, reggaeton has officially been whitewashed to the point of Cardi B, a rapper, being the darkest form of “blackness” accepted by the industry.

So, Rosalia changed her aesthetic once again in order to steal from the black Latin sounds, visuals and fashion. There again, styles proper to despised communities evolving in the poorest areas of Latin American countries have been exploited by the singer so as to give herself some street credibility. In her mind, like for any white singer who steals, the poor, isolated and black individual represents the new image of exoticism for the privileged Whites who come from the Northern sphere. This same reality applies to the white French directors who enjoy filming in the ghettos, listening to black rappers who promote black on black violence as this atmosphere helps break them away from the routine of their boring white lives as privileged leftist individuals.

Though a genre originated by black people, here are the whitewashed faces of reggaeton. /Billboard 2021

The exploitation of Rosalia is also reinforced by her ability to steal different languages and intonation, especially from Afro-Dominican and Boricua spaces.

Because of it, many Mexican, Dominican or Colombian viewers have expressed their hatred towards Rosalia whom they accused of stealing their identity. The singer was referred to as “Latina”, was nominated in Grammy categories made for Latinos, while being a Spaniard. The reaction of the South American and Caribbeans denotes a total confusion regarding their own perception of their selves. Regarding history, Rosalia, a Spaniard, is the real Latin, for the Latin people were always Southern Europeans. The others who attack her on this matter either are descendants of Africans and Natives who have been Latinized through colonization. But this proximity to Spain, through the “Latin” or “Hispanic” label is embraced for it reinforces elevation.

3 The Brazilian Case of Afro-Brazilian Whitewashing

Three whitewashed agents of black music

During the 2019 Superbowl in Miami, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira were chosen to perform and represent Latin culture. As the discussions regarding Afro-Latinidad were becoming more and more important, many wondered why no black Latin artist was chosen to perform at a show, especially when the so-called Latin culture is nothing less than African and Native in essence, and not Spanish or Portuguese.

Shakira, a white Colombian of Italian, Spanish and Lebanese descent was backed by hundred of black dancers as if to say that the black body in the Latin world can only be trusted if a white agent leads the pack.

In another genre, Brazilian music, which is also African and Native, has several genres among which, axe, bossa nova, samba or funk. These genres were created by Black Brazilians, but despite this fact, most singers of black Brazilian music are white. Claudia Leitte, Daniela Mercury and Ivete Sangalo are the biggest names in axe. They are not only white, but shamelessly use the concept of Latinidad to exploit black African culture they believe to be theirs. If black Brazilians are always reminded about the importance of staying in their black and poor limits, the white Latins have no issue entering, exiting, taking, destroying, and crushing the black identity to advance and elevate themselves at the maximum.

The Brazilian industry would rather highlight white women who cosplay as Afro-Brazilian than promoting the black originators themselves/Claudia Leitte

The whitewashing of Black Brazilian culture is real and also exists in spirituality. There again, because of syncretism, Euro descendants have managed to Europeanize African spirituality while claiming the ideology of tri-racialism. Whether Nigerian or Kongo, African spiritualities respect a deep system of order often based upon lineages. White Brazilians who carry black African blood can practice it, but others, who came to Brazil through the prism of colonialism or immigration, thus a new colonial wave used to whitewash the country from its Native and black African roots, have no problem infiltrating these black spiritual structures for their own advantage, without fearing any repercussions for conditioned to believe in white superiority above everything.

Yemanja (also Yemaya in Cuba) the deity for water, though a black Nigerian goddess, was constantly whitewashed by modern practitioners of candomble since Brazil was built upon the hatred of black African bodies.

By Victoria “VKY” Kabeya. All Rights Reserved 2023.

[1] Rebelion Feminista “Rosalía es una Racista.“, July 16th, 2019, https://rebelionfeminista.org/2019/07/16/rosalia-es-una-racista/

[2] Bishell, Ellen Rebecca, “Rosalía: raising reggaetón’s ‘global cachet’ or robbing it of its roots?“, The Conversation, April 4th 2022, https://theconversation.com/rosalia-raising-reggaetons-global-cachet-or-robbing-it-of-its-roots-172577

[3] Cherian, Adam “‘Motomami’: One of the Most Confusing Cases of Cultural Appropriation”, Afterglow, July 13th 2022, https://www.afterglowatx.com/blog/2022/7/13/motomami-one-of-the-most-confusing-cases-of-cultural-appropriation?fbclid=IwAR1c-BkJBXGVuJuUURE850K_BtVPwVSqf39p8CrgKBfzscIPMruMyCYn2Gc

[4] Revolucion Flamenca, “ABOUT THE HUGE RACISM FROM SINGER ROSALÍA TO ROMA PEOPLE.”, Revolucion Flamenca, January 25th 2019, https://peinetarevuelta.wordpress.com/2019/01/25/about-the-huge-racism-from-singer-rosalia-to-roma-people/?fbclid=IwAR2IC6mhSEqZOVWHKmw8uokUKEjDKWZRaUtAOaRX8oSdIoCEtTmum6ZbpnI

[5] Vallim, Gabriella, “What would Brazil look like without the media whitewash?”, The Rave Report, June 19th 2022, https://www.theravereport.com/blog/gabriela-vallim-brazil

[6] Watts, Jonathan, “Brazilian funk star Anitta sparks new debate about skin whitening and race”, The Guardian, 2013 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/08/brazilian-funk-anitta-debate-race

[7] Klotz, Kelsey, “Brazil’s Black and Tan Fantasy of Whiteness”, Common Reader, 2016 https://commonreader.wustl.edu/c/brazils-black-tan-fantasy-whiteness/

[8] Shukla, Anu, “An erasure of Black voices and whitewashing:’ Unpacking the ethics around white producers sampling Black music”, Ra Magazine, July 8th 2022, https://ra.co/news/77263

[9] Yumiko, Naiara and Trippa, Carlotta,”Yemanjá, the Whitewashed Orisha”, Futuress, December 4th 2021 https://futuress.org/stories/yemanja-the-whitewashed-orisha/

[10] Travae, Marques, “I love being black!” – Popular white singer Daniela Mercury heavily criticized for honoring legendary Afro-Brazilian singer in blackface and afro wig” Black Brazil Today, March 10th, 2017

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