Why do so many non-Black Latinx artists still make space for white supremacy?
By Ruby Mora
Singer Sabrina Claudio was recently outed on Twitter for writing anti-Black tweets and frequently using the n-word. The discovery was made by another Twitter user who came across a currently-deleted Twitter account which turned out to be Claudio’s from years prior.
For all of those who are wondering what she said since it's been deleted pic.twitter.com/vlL9eT14hV
— 🦋🖤 (@forniaa) April 9, 2018
The singer has since then confirmed that many of the tweets were hers and issued a short and generic apology, but this doesn’t change the fact that Claudio, as a white Latinx figure in music, who claims influence from Black artists, believed that saying this vitriol was okay.
Colorism and anti-black racism have been ugly trends in Latinx cultures for as long as fair skin has been the ideal views of beauty, and it’s an issue that isn’t discussed enough, especially since it continues to grow. Take reggaeton singer J.Balvin—when he was asked to participate in “Fuck, Marry, Kill” on a Portuguese Youtube Show and queen/goddess/singer/entrepreneur Rihanna was brought up in said game, he boldly claimed that she is not marriage material, specifically that she “isn’t a good woman to marry, just fool around.” The nerve of him to believe that a mediocre cishet man such as him felt the need to be able to define how marriage-worthy Black women are, let alone any woman of color.
Writer/artist/speaker/sociocultural critic Zahira Kelly-Cabrera (@bad_dominicana) calls out this nonsense in one of the best ways:
THATS TYPICAL ANTIBLACK MISOGYNY. FROM A WHITE LATINO WHOS BREAD AND BUTTER IS APPROPRIATING AFROCARIBBEAN MUSIC. U KNOW, WHERE RIHANNA IS FROM? https://t.co/OREfr16JTn
— killmangú (@bad_dominicana) April 9, 2018
If white Latinx musicians aren’t being racist in ways similar to how J. Balvin was, they end up co-opting blackness for their own benefit, which is where singer Kali Uchis comes into the picture. The Colombian singer started her career back in 2014-2015 as overtly white-passing, but then suddenly started embracing her “brownness” before her debut album was released. Youtuber and queer chicanx Esperanz Maríe Aguilera Fuentes (@SoyEsperanz) wrote a thread calling the singer out, discussing that it “seems as though Kali is using ‘brownness’ for her convenience: aesthetics and capitalization” and Fuentes believes it isn’t by chance:
My original Keli Fuchis thread: pic.twitter.com/P0uFEV55ac
— Esperanz Maríe (@SoyEsperanz) May 31, 2017
The singer and the Twitter following she had at the time, pressured Fuentes into deleting the thread instead of initially taking the time to have in-depth conversations about her portrayal of brownness, and how her privileges and the intersections of these two things were essential channels into seeing why her actions were problematic. She was then defensive about the situation, which is so unfortunately common, tweeting and then deleting a bold claim that she does more and speaks more “on discrimination and afro latinidad than anyone…”
Actress and singer Selena Gomez, who has gained a larger fan base and public platform as a Latina that many of the artists I mentioned prior, is, to me, one of the biggest disappointments when it comes to her anti-blackness. She recently removed the comments section from images on her Instagram profile after receiving waves of backlash calling her out for supporting the March for Our Lives while ignoring Black Lives Matter. Her captions included: #notjustahashtag but when a fan brought up her lack of support for #BlackLivesMatter, Gomez allegedly responded by asking: “if I hashtag something I save lives?” Gomez failed to take into consideration fans of hers who might need her to support the movement in order to for them to believe that she actually cares about them and Black Lives, and yet she reacted defensively instead of having a necessary dialogue.
Selena Gomez: March For Our Lives isn’t just a hashtag!!!!
Also Selena Gomez: pic.twitter.com/s4eVhTasUB
— devon (@artfuIife) March 24, 2018
These and other white Latinx figures need to realize that it’s 2018 and their fans are passionate about racial justice and want their favorite artists to be self-aware enough that anti-Blackness isn’t ever justifiable, nor can it be ignored. Many of these artists’ fan-bases have mixed demographics and reflect Black and Afro-Latinx individuals who take their actions and words to heart—so why do many of these artists still hold these colonizer-paralleled ideals and standards?
In order to be able to dismantle this anti-Black racism and misogynoir that has been ingrained in multiracial, white or white-adjacent Latinxs for so long—especially ones who have an influential platform—they need to be mentally and emotionally open to checking their privileges to then be able to have discussions on how they can take part in dismantling anti-Black racism, misogynoir, and colorism in the many diverse Latinx cultures which exist. Fans need to continue to push these individuals to progress towards this goal instead of allowing them to stick with the colonizer mindset that they know and are clearly comfortable with, because as much as fans are influenced by the works of these artists, the artists can be influenced by the fan bases that gave them platforms in the first place, and an exchange like this can lead to such positive progress.
About the Author: Ruby Mora is a freelance writer and music photographer whose writing focuses on pop culture, identity, and feminism through a Latinx perspective. She’s written and photographed for the Philadelphia-based music site Rock On Philly.