[Blackstudies-l] Exalting Blackness Amid White Noise: Afro-Latino Artists Speak on Navigating the World & Music Industry

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Sun Mar 11 08:16:05 EDT 2018


lisaparavisini posted: " A report by Marjua Estevez for Billboard. Arturo
Alfonso Schomburg, the late Puerto Rican historian, writer and activist,
was an indispensable component of the Harlem Renaissance. Born and largely
raised on the island, Schomburg dedicated his life to c"
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New post on *Repeating Islands*
<http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/> Exalting Blackness
Amid White Noise: Afro-Latino Artists Speak on Navigating the World &
Music Industry
<http://repeatingislands.com/2018/03/10/exalting-blackness-amid-white-noise-afro-latino-artists-speak-on-navigating-the-world-music-industry/>
by
lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>

[image: blackness-in-latin-america-fea-2018-billboard-1500]

A report by Marjua Estevez for *Billboard*.
<https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/latin/8097896/afro-latino-artists-interviews-black-history-month-video>

Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, the late Puerto Rican historian, writer and
activist, was an indispensable component of the Harlem Renaissance. Born
and largely raised on the island, Schomburg dedicated his life to
collecting and documenting the literary and artistic contributions of
African peoples in the Americas and across the diaspora. Concerning the
“lost black Hispanic heritage,” one figure Schomburg studied and discussed
at length was the prestigious Puerto Rican painter José Campeche, who in
his lifetime emerged a toast of the art world among white Spaniards, but
whose ancestors were little-talked-about — “a conspiracy of
silence” Schomburg spent all his years breaking. That is precisely what
this project has been about: undoing a dreaded history of silence.

Thanks to Schomburg and to works like Dr. Vanessa K. Valdés’
*Diasporic Blackness*
<http://www.sunypress.edu/p-6382-diasporic-blackness.aspx>, we know the
richness, brilliance, necessity and gravity of black narratives in places
like the Caribbean, from where lots of the music we Latinxs know and love
is rooted. At the top of 2018, *Billboard* sent out a particularly
non-traditional call to some of our favorite recording artists of varied
backgrounds, but bound by one exquisite attribute: *negritude*.

We solicited a number of video submissions that responded to the query: *What
has been your experience as a black Latino musician or recording artist
navigating today’s industry?* To my surprise, there were no apparent
concerns and no one required clarity on the topic, which I was fully
prepared to expound on. (My personal anxieties were rooted in the
arguable fact that for all intents and purposes the Spanish-speaking
world is years behind when it comes to discourse on race,
ethnicity, gender, sex etc.).

The cadre of artists we reached out to included the likes of Ozuna
<https://www.billboard.com/music/ozuna>, one of the most
successful reggaeton singers of his generation who almost always refers to
himself as a negro with light eyes on his songs; OG reggaetonero
Tego Calderon <https://www.billboard.com/music/tego-calderon>, a pioneer in
the genre that was generally disdained and perpetually associated with the
lower-class during his era; and award-winning and internationally-acclaimed
Colombian hip-hop group Chocquibtown
<https://www.billboard.com/music/chocquibtown>, whose very name derives
from their native Chocó, a Colombian department famous for its widespread
African population. Restoring said history of silence, the band’s
management remained mum before ultimately expressing feeling offended by
the request, saying it was unnecessary and irrelevant to speak about
their artists’ experiences in an industry that systemically appropriates
and then profits off their work. It was disheartening to say the least, but
not surprising.

"No one is asking what is it like being a white male producer in music, no
one is asking that knowing that [white men] have made millions off black,
queer and marginalized peoples and paid them dust in return,” says Maluca
Mala <https://www.instagram.com/malucamala/>, a Dominican
singer-songwriter, model and activist from Washington Heights, New York.
“See, no one is asking those questions. Marginalized communities need to
unify because we need to take up space. The youth needs that, they need to
see themselves and to hear themselves."

[image: Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 8.12.33 PM]
She adds: "I feel very empowered by my blackness. Because the public looks
to me as a tastemaker, and that's valuable. As an Afro-Latina, I know my
stock is up there. Because you need me for that cool factor, the
[universal] cosign. You need me to sell that record. My stock is worth a
lot."

In places like the Dominican Republic, there are all kinds of names that
allude to blackness: *trigueño*, *moreno*, *mulato* — anything but
*negro *because
that would mean a blatant call to that which we've long been conditioned to
hate. Esteemed urban Latin artist and Soberano Award-winning singer, Vakeró
<https://www.billboard.com/music/vakero> is proud to go by the latter.
“Don’t call me moreno, call me negro,” he says in his personal response to
the topic at hand, adding that the “perfect” color is the human one.

Fellow singer-songwriter and Roc Nation signee, Mr. Paradise
<https://www.billboard.com/music/mr-paradise> echoes the same in his take:
“The moment we start to categorize skin color is the moment we separate
ourselves and everything around us.” However honorable and righteous his
point of view, it leaves no room for the necessary discourse on the
black-and-white binary, which is inherently about separation, one that
black people themselves did not originally establish.

Latin Grammy and Grammy-nominated musician Concha Buika
<https://www.billboard.com/music/concha-buika> was born to
Equatoguinean parents and raised in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Trained in
the genres of flamenco, copla, jazz and soul, Buika celebrates her
blackness all year round along with her family. In the face of a
monopolizing and historically racist industry, Buika considers her personal
experience a fulfilling one, hardships and all: “To be a black woman in the
world of music has been and always will be marvelous, divine, difficult and
hard, but ultimately great because this is a profession of soldiers. I
cannot lie and say things are easy. This profession is hard, and things are
heating up. But with faith, hope and – above all – hard work, we can rise
to the occasion.”

She continues: “Even with all the obstacles, I am here because of two
reasons: a marvelous fan base and all the great maestros who guided me.”

Cuban music experimentalist and historian, DJ Jigüe
<https://www.instagram.com/dj.jigue/> has performed on stages all around
Europe and the Americas thanks to a traveling visa he obtained by a stroke
of luck. His work in the world of music fuses traditional bata drums,
elements of hip-hop and electronica, and is both performance and political.

[image: Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 8.12.45 PM]

Latin Grammy and Grammy-nominated musician Concha Buika
<https://www.billboard.com/music/concha-buika> was born to
Equatoguinean parents and raised in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Trained in
the genres of flamenco, copla, jazz and soul, Buika celebrates her
blackness all year round along with her family. In the face of a
monopolizing and historically racist industry, Buika considers her personal
experience a fulfilling one, hardships and all: “To be a black woman in the
world of music has been and always will be marvelous, divine, difficult and
hard, but ultimately great because this is a profession of soldiers. I
cannot lie and say things are easy. This profession is hard, and things are
heating up. But with faith, hope and – above all – hard work, we can rise
to the occasion.”

She continues: “Even with all the obstacles, I am here because of two
reasons: a marvelous fan base and all the great maestros who guided me.”

Cuban music experimentalist and historian, DJ Jigüe
<https://www.instagram.com/dj.jigue/> has performed on stages all around
Europe and the Americas thanks to a traveling visa he obtained by a stroke
of luck. His work in the world of music fuses traditional bata drums,
elements of hip-hop and electronica, and is both performance and political.
*lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>* |
March 10, 2018 at 8:14 pm | Categories: News
<http://repeatingislands.com/category/news/> | URL: https://wp.me/psnTa-zCl

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