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Why We Are Tired of The White Latin Rhetoric Regarding Their Justification In Exploiting African Music and Identity

Vultures Daniela Mercury and Claudia Leitte/Photographer unknown

Racism in the Latin world has displayed its worst forms since 1492. There, the colonial powers which have dominated both the Africans and the Natives, have tried to hide their racist and white supremacist agenda behind the propaganda of Mestizaje, as mentioned several times on this website. This racial hierarchy began with the racial blood quantification of the enslaved Africans as well as the Natives. Brainwashed for over four hundred years, both the Native and African descendants submitted to the principle of Latinidad which placed the white Latin colonial entity at the center of it all. Due to low self esteem, and looking at themselves as useless human beings for not being white and because of the constant disdain they have been exposed to over the past centuries, the Afro-Indigenous group considers white approval a sign of social and cultural elevation. Indeed, in both African and Native branches, the original cultures were shamed, demonized and attacked by the white colonizers, so much so that, the latter can look down upon them.

Therefore, even if the violence of colonialism is hidden behind the principle of Latinidad, and thus, the triracial myth, white singers in South America are surely aware of this racist system, but they keep enjoying it anyway, at the expense of the Africans and Natives.

In 2020, during the orchestrated Black Lives Matter protests which had a great impact in Brazil, Brazilian axé singer Ivete Sangalo was asked by mixed-race Black Brazilian Tais Araujo why the axé performers, though axé is a black Brazilian creation, were always white, and why Margareth Menezes, the greatest female vocalist of the genre, was never pushed ahead as much as her and Daniela Mercury? Sangalo, though a humble woman in the heart, did not know what to answer. Her silence spoke for itself as it revealed how much she was aware of the racist structures in Brazil, and so in the music industry, from which she benefited and validated through the principle of Latinidad, and with the support many brainwashed black Brazilians who see no issue being ripped off their heritage for the sake of white performers.

The infamous interview

Brazil, despite its image of multiracialism, is one of the most racist and colonial countries in South America.

Actually, in multiracial and multicultural environments, seeing white people singing traditional African and Indigenous sounds or practicing African and Indigenous spirituality is not problematic. But it becomes a real problem when the only faces which represent Africans and Indigenous Natives are white. The state of Latinized culture today does not have to do with white people as individuals, but with the constant replacement of the originators by them in order to make more profit. This whitewashing will increase even more through globalism and the emergence of the multipolar world. Thanks to capitalism, anybody can buy anything from anyone. Therefore, the black presence could go extinct if the people in charge, in power manage to buy the black attributes/qualities they will place upon a non-black person who will learn and become a fusion with them. As a consequence, Afro-Brazilian women will no longer be needed, as any white girl who possesses a voice could mimick and exploit blackness.

The white Latin performers preserve this game well and often have the audacity to be angry or upset when the question of race is being evoked. Their first argument they choose to push ahead has to do with this idea of colorblindness. If the white Latin colonizers were to face the reality, they would understand that they have been intruses in Latinized America over the past five centuries. The creation of the myth of mestizaje and Latinidad, allows them to remain at the center of a multiracial world. Yet, the white groups could not hold such power and exist if this fraudulent, racist and colonial concept of mestizaje was not maintained. The racial admixture is celebrated for its elevates the mixed-race colonized subject closer to the white institutions. Yet, the white Latin colonizers want to keep their knowledge and political power to themselves.

Shakira is one great example of this exploitation. Born to a Lebanese father and a Colombian mother of Spanish and Italian descent, the singer became the face of a whitewashed South American culture. The white American corporations chose Shakira as the face of a culture which was supposed to blend Africans, Natives, and Whites. The problem remains in Shakira’s explanations regarding this exploitation, her blatant lies and her complacency in accepting to overrepresent cultures when she should simply leave the door open to the originators who are black Colombians.

Mercury knows how many people blast her

The first World Cup organized in Africa was set in South Africa. This country is perceived as the most Europeanized, and the white presence there reassures the racist Northern Europeans. Through this improbable image of South Africa being a “rainbow nation”, Shakira was once again chosen to perform there. A white face was to embody black African culture, with a stolen song, Waka Waka, she lied about writing when taken from the Cameroonian band Zangalewa.

When asked about her singing Waka Waka, representing the World Cup in Africa while not being black African or Afro descendant, Shakira claimed that this choice had nothing to do with race, but with coming together for Africa in support of a continent which went through so much. The argument of togetherness used by any colonizers to shut their detractors up was expressed once again.

The white TV host @03.12 is asking Shakira why, a white woman like her, was to represent Africa at the World Cup. Her answer was simple: The World Cup is about tolerance, integration, and the celebration of the African continent in itself. She used the typical white Latin colonil rhetoric of Latinidad and mestizaje and used it to shut the TV host up.

In Brazil again, Claudia Leitte, Ivete Sangalo, and worst, Daniela Mercury, have no problem claiming African culture through Bahia simply due to their proximity to it. If black performers remain in the shadows, these white women call themselves “African”, “Black whites”. If black descendants can not enter the white sphere as easily even when they descend from white people, the insult of these white performers allow them to get into a sphere they have become the faces of. They do not respect the boundaries at all.

Margaretg Menezes, queen of Axé in Brazil, overshadowed by usurpers of the genre. She is also a ministry of culture in her native country/Photographer unknown

In one interview dating back to the very early 2000s, Shakira declared:”“I am a fusion. That’s my persona. I’m a fusion between black and white, between pop and rock, between cultures—between my Lebanese father and my mother’s Spanish blood, the Colombian folklore and Arab dance I love and American music.” The singer is not black, does not have Indigenous roots, but claims to be the center of the black and white world, hence a thought which is the continuity of the white Latin feeling of superiority and colonialism. She is white, belongs to a sphere of privilege, knows about the racism endured by the black Colombian community she is not related to by blood, but claims to be their point of fusion, as if black Latinos needed Shakira to come to earth to revolutionize music in South America.

Three culture vultures

When Shakira performed at the Superbowl, the black Latin community was supposed to applaud the fact that the majority of her dancers were black Colombians. Yet again, the presence of a white Shakira reassured the masses and no black performer was chosen to sing as a solo act on stage. This decision was also motivated by the validation of racist, colorist black male producers in the United States, whether Diddy, Jay-Z, who greatly disregarded dark skin black women in order to favor the likes of Jennifer Lopez during the early phase of globalism in the late 90s.

Several white Brazilians who practice candomblé expressed their frustration online regarding the “Africanization” of this faith which is originally black African. Yemeya is often painted white, in order to whitewash the black African Orisha with roots in Yorubaland.

In 2012, Daniela Mercury, also a singer of axé in Brazil, performed in Bahia during a festival honoring Africa. She was chosen as the face of Africa for this Black Brazilian celebration. Once again, this blatant theft is justified by the principles of métissage. Daniela Mercury, one of the worst, is a (delusional) white Brazilian who even claim an African ancestry she does not have, simply for having been raised in Bahia, one of the blackest towns in the country. The singer was caught wearing blackface, and when exposed, she used the Bahia excuse to justify her disgusting behavior. Her obsession with the idea of race-mixing and colorblindess, as the cultural colonial agent she is, is a way for her to silence her critics and those who accuse her of contributing to the erasure of black originators, especially when she is white, but claims an invisible black ancestry.

The white exploitation of black African culture will happen the day black Africans, whether members of the diaspora or not, fight for their own rights, stop being gullible, reject submission and act with dignity.

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

[1] Shakira Cover Story: Cultural Fusion, Faze Magazine, early 2000s, https://faze.ca/shakira-cover-story-cultural-fusion/

[2] Bare, Alex, “The Arab, Congolese, and Afro-Colombian roots of Shakira’s Super Bowl halftime show”, The Colombia Reports, 2020 https://colombiareports.com/amp/the-arab-congolese-and-afro-colombian-roots-of-shakiras-super-bowl-halftime-show/

[3] Travae, Marqus, “The continuous white appropriation of northeastern Afro-Brazilian Axé music”, Black Brazil Today, 2012 https://blackbraziltoday.com/the-continuous-white-appropriation-of-northeastern/

[4] “Ivete Sangalo e Cláudia Leite acusadas de apropriação cultural”, Carga, 2020, https://carga.co.ao/noticias/ivete-sangalo-e-claudia-leite-acusadas-de-apropriacao-cultural/

[5] Fontes, Malu “Malu Fontes: Dos feminismos ao blackface de Daniela Mercury”, Correio, 2017 https://www.correio24horas.com.br/noticia/nid/malu-fontes-dos-feminismos-ao-blackface-de-daniela-mercury/

[6] Santana, Andrés, ““É caricatura, sim”. Daniela Mercury é acusada de realizar blackface no Carnaval”, Correio Nago, 2017, https://correionago.com.br/e-caricatura-sim-daniela-mercury-e-acusada-de-realizar-blackface-no-carnaval/

[7] Trippa, Carlotta, Yumiko, Naiara, “Yemanjá, the Whitewashed Orisha”, Futuress, 2021, https://futuress.org/stories/yemanja-the-whitewashed-orisha/

[8] Miranda, Beatriz, “‘The way I am is an outrage’: the Indigenous Brazilian musicians taking back a burning country“, The Guardian, 2020 https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/oct/26/brazil-music-indigenous-tribes-environment-bolsonaro

[9] Oliveira, Rosana, “Racismo religioso en Brasil”, El Comején, 2020 https://elcomejen.com/2020/12/18/racismo-religioso-en-brasil/

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