Black Oppression: In Living Color

A college friend reached out to me over the recent New York City snowstorm to vent about the new Bruno Mars and Cardi B video. His concern was that the video, starring two racially ambiguous stars, sullied a prevalent portion of black culture–gateway sitcom In Living Color. His assertions are definitively astute– marking a troubling pattern seen in white and racially ambiguous entertainers who appropriate what blacks made great, to further their brand and fester the wound of white supremacy. in-living-color

I’ll be honest with you, In Living Color was not good for the black collective. The show, like most media platforms, proved a means for blacks to become spectators and gawk at their own disenfranchisement. It also birthed The Wayans, a family that would resurrect caricatures of blackness that function to beat the black mind into mental subjugation years after the physical chains had been cut. Television, like music, sports, etc are deliberate means of escapism, serving a similar function to drugs in issuing the systemically disenfranchised a temperate high jlo-then-nowthey seek to recreate with each additional use. In Living Color, also placed Bronx born Latina Jennifer Lopez in the spotlight, who like Cardi B and Bruno Mars, gained fame and fortune for her proximity to blackness, but maintained prominence and versatility because she was not black.

Just as Lopez’s assets would be disregarded if she were black, Bruno’s sound would be deemed cliche and generic if he were a black man, Cardi’s “personality,” deemed “charming” and “real” by most consumers would easily be rendered gauche and aligned with the “welfare queen” caricature if she were a black woman. Perhaps most importantly, neither Bruno Mars or Cardi would garner mainstream appeal if black. If black, the perception of their celebrated attributes would circumscribe their appeal,  if not negate their opportunity for visibility all-together.
DSpHInQU8AAT2a5The irony of it all is that Bruno Mars and Cardi B exist in “living color.” They have “color” in the sense that they are not white, but they are not colored with what the white world still regards as the detriment of blackness. Although deviants of what author Alice Walker called the “black black woman” stolen from the shores of Africa, Bruno and Cardi stand on this illusive black black woman in their distant past  to assume a position above blacks but below whites.

Cardi literally stands on Nicki Minaj’s back as an obvious duplicate of Minaj’s caricature. nicki-minaj-why-lil-kim-not-surprised-stole-her-look-again-ftrCardi B’s resurrection from reality television to the top of popular culture illustrates that the Nicki Minaj image was never intended for the black female body. She illustrates that Nicki Minaj was a test, a test expected to fail. In her conventional success, Minaj now serves a doorstopper to allow the entry of non-black versions of a caricature first seen with lil’ kim, but gradually lightened over the decade that separates the pop/hip-hold meld attempted with Kim and perfected with Minaj. This is not to say that Minaj is in any way better than Kim, but that her lighter skin, finer features and crossover sound assumes a space Kim could not quite master with her brown skin, full features and conventionally “hard” lyrics. Just as Kim became a mark that Minaj was designed to exceed, Nicki now  exists as a mark that the racially ambiguous Minaj must exceed.

nicki-minaj-iggy-azalea-top-40-splitIggy’s ability to appropriate Nicki’s look, but not her personality could not quite carry the torch of appropriation terrorism. In short, Iggy was largely unlikeable and overtly unrealistic. Yes, Nicki sometimes resembles a candy land character, but she is easily the girl next door, or bad-girl turned good.. Blacks historically mastered code switching as a means of survival,  as a black female caricature, Iggy’s investors could pay for her assets but could not buy this survival technique.

Cardi, however, a Nicki clone, lighter and seemingly more embedded in the “hood”- cardi-b-instagram-4-1504612974-view-1functions as a deliberate means to imply that their are non-black people who incur a “blacker” existence than black people. Cardi B, a former stripper who had to choose whether to eat or strive for an education, functions to declare Hispanics as the new black. Despite her voluntary presence in the United States, the white media functions to illustrate Cardi B, as they do the LBGT community, those of Mexican ancestry and those of Muslim faith– as bearing a subjugation far worse that any black person– deeming the reference groups  more worthy of central placement than black bodies.

This of course is a smokescreen for the reality that the white media is far more comfortable with non-black persons of color than blacks, as their voluntary presence in the blood-stained North American continent, proves a symbolic profit to those who built bridges with the bones of the dead and signed checks in the blood of the murdered and defiled.  For it is far easier to celebrate the conventional “greatness” of those who proved victorious in conjunction with America, rather than those who rose in spite of its evils.

For many exhausted with the 808 sound of contemporary music, it is hard not to like Bruno Mars. It’s hard not to like his doo-wop soul sound that is a reminiscent of a young Frankie Lymon and men who used to sing on trains and street corners. But Frankie Lymon and all the other soul singers like Otis Redding and Sam Cooke who died prematurely and suspiciously, died to make room for Bruno Mars. So while Cardi B exists to illustrate the black experience as detached from black people, Bruno Mars functions as a brown version of Robin Thicke or Justin Timberlake—seeking to illustrate the “soul” or the “black sound” as detached from black people.

Furthermore, images like these depict a reality many are still unwilling to accept– that we as a collective remain under attack. Cardi B, Bruno Mars amongst numerous other racially ambiguous acts forced down the collective throats of black people, illustrate acts and tools of mentacide, or “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a person’s or group’s mind”  as gradually becoming darker and darker, unveiling our most lethal adversaries as literally “in living color.”

Black Power ❤

87 Comments Add yours

  1. SouthernGrl says:

    This entire argyment is based on the fact that Carsi B is not black. Yes she is black domican. Her hair and facial featires say so. You do us all a disservice when you aren’t factual in your write ups. Everything you said was based on a fallacy.

    1. Happy New Year and Thank you for your comment.

      As seen in the provided link:

      Cardi does not identify as a black women. She even states dating black men who do not date black women… As mentioned in the article, Cardi obviously descends from an abuducted black black woman (as Alice Walker calls it), but it has only a selective bearing on her identity and function. So while she may be a “diasporic” African to those familiar with the transatlantic African “disbursement,” Cardi does not claim black, or compartmentalize herself as such. Furthermore, it is the black collective that does a disservice to themselves and their people in claiming those who do not claim us.

      As black people, we also need to be especially weary of those whose popularity and celebration functions to fester our subjugation. Cardi is a violent figure to the black collective, a violence enabled by those within the collective who embrace her with open arms assuming an affiliation to blackness she has appropriated not articulated.


      1. Ryon J. Cobb says:

        Cardi B is an Afro-Latina. Rosie Perez, who helped choreograph the dance moves on In Living Color, is Puerto Rican. Nicki Minaj, like Cardi B, is Trinidadian.

      2. Omg. Incredible reply.

      3. Mariel says:

        Great response C. C.!

      4. Miriam says:

        Very well said SiStar. When will we ever understand the dynamic that the jim crow one drop rule has dissipated! With the census bureau came the option to choose other than black…and even though these folks have some characteristics, they don’t have enough to be a threat…in fact their blandness is sought in propaganda media because they can be easily whitewashed and manipulated.
        And why do our people continue to love to claim these people who do not claim us?! Jim Crow one drop is dead people!!

      5. Thank you for your enlightened comment Miriam!

      6. Andres Santana says:

        Honestly I just think Cardi b isnt articulate enough. Im black and My family considers themselves black, even though ethnically we are Dominican like my parents were born there all they know is DR. You do make a lot of valid points, but I don’t even think Cardi really knows what she’s saying like especially after watching the video for myself I was like, yeah she doesn’t know much or how to express herself well enough. You can see her frustration when trying to even come up with what to say. The question I pose out of curiosity, because I too I guess struggle with identity when seeing post like this is; if Cardi did claim her blackness would this be a conversation about solely Bruno, or just in regards to colorism itself.

    2. J L-Z says:

      I hope you saw the comment that just bodied you! I would think twice next time before popping off at the keyboard.

  2. Chimira M Wirlich says:

    This is a good article

  3. Chris Robin says:

    Cardi B does in fact identify as Black and this piece contributes to erasure of Latinx’s of African descent. I think the reality is that colorism has always been pervasive in pop culture. As much as we worship artists like Prince and Michael Jackson, they achieved greater acclaim because of their complexion, unlike their predecessors James Brown and Stevie Wonder. Hell, this is why Beyonce is more famous than Kelly Rowland!

    Also, if we follow your logic Cardi B should only be allowed to perform salsa or merengue and we shouldnt celebrate Black artists who are accomplished opera singers or classical musicians because certain art forms “belong” to certain ethnic groups.

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      As seen here:

      Cardi distinguishes between “black” and “Spanish.” The culturally enlightened understand that”Spanish” is not a race and that “Spanish” and “Black” are not mutually exclusive, but to the culturally unenlightened this line of demarcation is a building block in their identity. But while Cardi’s distance from blackness in identity but appropriation of a black platform to accrue wealth and fame is a problem–her function or fluidity, as manipulated by whites, is far more problematic

      It’s funny you bring up Salsa and Meringue, as neither sound is, nor could be dominated by black, American displaced singers. Bruno and Cardi, while they may face adversity in their American born status, could assume a position like the late Selena. But what black person could successfully appropriate Chicano, or latino music? None. Even in acting, Zoe Saldana played a black sorority girl in Drumline, Bernie Mac’s black daughter in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and a Columbian orphan in Columbiana. She even beat out black actresses to play Nina Simone. We all know Viola, Lupita, Tika, or even Angela Bassett would not be first in line to play Celia Cruz–although they are all “black.”

      So while I get that there is blackness “there,” privilege is “there” as well.

      In her autobiography, Assata Shakur recalls desiring to board a ride in a segregated amusement park. She is initially denied because of her skin color, but when her mother approaches the park guards speaking in Spanish they are allowed to board the ride.

      Her language didn’t change her blackness, but proved a means to further the “othering” of blacks displaced in North America.This is similar what we see with Cardi B, Bruno Mars, and others.

      Thank you for this opportunity of intellectual exchange.

      Black Power.


      1. Wow! That comment was a nuclear bomb!!!😲

      2. Royal Quran says:

        Wow! Nuclear bomb indeed!! Just as the article and your other replies. So powerful… And on point!
        Shut em down!

      3. Joe says:

        “It’s funny you bring up Salsa and Meringue, as neither sound is, nor could be dominated by black, American displaced singers.”

        Celia Cruz was an Afro-Latina. Which means she was black. and regarded as the QUEEN of Salsa.

        I had to just come up here and let you know that, since you obviously don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

        and I already know you’ll attempt to weasel your way out of that by pointing out the fact that you said “black, AMERICAN” so I’ll leave you with another example, tho a simple google search would produce DOZENS more

        Black and Latinos are basically the same in a lot of ways. You are no different from a white supremacist to me. You further divide people. You probably jumped Spanish girls in high school because they had better hair than you. *shrugs*

      4. Tony says:

        Excellent Response!

      5. Jillian says:

        I would really recommend that we be sure that we completely understand C.C.’s argument before disagreeing…

        I think C.C’s argument is actually based on a fundamental understanding of how privilege works: It is not a function of one’s desire; it is an advantage granted you by no “merit” of your own.

        What is interesting here is that *language is understood as privileged within larger critical conversations about race (or “Black-(North) Americaness”) in the USA.

  4. The Melanin Man says:

    Man, I used to like the Wayans Bros. show a lot. Comedy has it’s place, but it’s overemphasis amongst the Black entertainment realm has been extremely detrimental I agree. As I’ve gotten older that’s what I’m beginning to realize. Good observation 👍👍👍

    1. Sharra Rasheed says:

      I dislike that so much of Black entertainment is in or has been in comedy, seemed to me, all to often, all we were shown was Black clowns, and not anything like reality.

      Long time love for those like Richard Pryor, but was well aware how much of what he said was “laughing to keep from crying”… Things are somewhat improved now, but find a lot of that seems to be in TV and movies made outside of the U S.

      As for Bruno Mars, because of my personal experience in the islands of the Pacific, I like him and his music and style as a reminder of the talent of all the island mixes. I miss our diversity and the way we were all together.

  5. Anna Marie hsrold says:

    To a blue eyes person she they are black or mixed race not pure white

  6. A says:

    I love this article it’s on point !

  7. V.Page says:

    This is a great article. So strange, I was thinking about this, this morning. Not so much
    in your context, but on another level. Music. As a baby-boomer, I love and reminisce with
    soul, jazz and R&B from back-in-the-day…”Say it Loud..I’m Black and Proud”. As I see the
    change in music with and of Black Americans who migrated from the South, it’s obvious we no
    longer have control. Yes, our music is being changed and used by all people of color and
    less by American Blacks…which is a problem. We no longer have black female groups or
    black male groups that dominated the airwaves or concert halls, which propel many to become
    soloist, still identifying with Soul music. Unfortunately, we have to put blame where it
    belongs, many new black generations are not embracing our black-in-the-day, but creating
    their own style. So when you have Bruno embracing black-in-the-day, it gives black Americans
    a good feeling. Hopefully other black Americans who ancestors migrated from the South will
    update and add some Aretha Franklin, some James Brown, some Smokey, some Betty Wright, some
    Glady Knight, some Teddy Pendergrass, some Barry White some Temptations…and many more into their music or add collaboration with some artists that are still alive

  8. Reblogged this on theladyonthelake's Blog and commented:
    This is so well said

  9. Nunya says:

    This was ignorant. Completely. They simply aren’t “black enough” for the author.

    1. Charlie P says:

      They aren’t black at all is what the author was stating.

    2. A Minor says:


  10. James L says:

    I agree with you naming colorism, and how that shows up in white media. But your assessment of where latinx people are is off base.To say that folks from the diaspora in the Caribbean are here voluntarily in the US ignores the scale of imperialism and colonialism. More specifically, you ignore the opression black people outside of the US mainland face.

    Light skin and racially ambiguous people have more privilege, no doubt. But If you feel that way about cardi and Bruno and their music, im curious about how this applies to artists like Prince, who also benefited

    1. Charlie P says:

      Prince has openly identified as a black man. That’s the difference champ.

      1. James L says:

        Its a difference, but I dont know if its THE difference. Self identification isn’t a sole idicator of power dynamics. Jesse Williams identifies as black as well, but his message is arguably more palatable to white people because of his proximity to whiteness.

        My point is that I think there is a way to lift up how the media consumes black culture and uses colorism to divide in a way that doesn’t pit afro-latinx people against mainland black folk.

        Cardi not identifying as such is a consequence of colonialism and anti-blackness, but it doesn’t negate her experience and oppression as a black latina in an anti-black community.

        How does OJ simpson apply to your rule if hes like “I’m not black, I’m OJ?”

  11. This was a TERRIBLE article, if we can even call it that. Disappointing.

    1. Thank you for reading!

  12. joshua Williams says:

    Great article! Being a teacher and an african american historian I do agree with certain points made in this article. Great job of starting the discussion!

  13. Rachelle says:

    This was brilliant. Thank you. And your replies are on point as well.

  14. williamgarcia1987 says:

    Afrolatinos are under attack. This article is trying to take down Afrolatinos by making it seem like Afrolatinos are being used as a form of anti-black and (colorism-based) multicultural-neoliberalist marketing move. Lol “yeah right”. What y’all thought, that once we gained visibility, these nativists were gonna share the limelight.

    1. More division within the division. It would be comical if it wasn’t sad.

  15. Great article CC! Keep dropping those truth bombs! Don’t pay any attention to the naysayers. I’ve learned over the years that truth always offends people. But it can’t be denied. Keep it up 👍🏿

    1. Thank you for your support Prince! I could have never anticipated the response I received. I suppose my post was a stone thrown at a pack of dogs, and these comments depict “who” got hit ;’/

      1. Yeah you got a huge response! I see on your page it’s been shared over 10,000 times on Fakebook…I mean So you better expect a lot more traffic. You’ll probably get more hateful trolls. That happened to me a few years ago. Some guy shared by Boule post on YouTube and over 20,000 people watched the video. It’s a blessing and a curse. You get silly trolls but also your blog can get more popular in the process. But I’m not worried,I know you can handle them. And yes you’re correct, the only dogs that yelp are the ones that get hit. LOL!!!!

  16. Rav says:

    Article is very disingenuous.You keep posting a youtube video to an interview where Cardi says “she isnt black” to try and validate your claim of misappropriation.Its obvious that Cardi has a limited understanding of race/ethnicity so its sad that somebody educated would attempt to twist her already twisted words.She clearly states in the video that as a spanish/hispanic,they have European/African etc in them but it doesnt matter because Whites view “us” all the same anyways.So its very clear she isnt trying to separate herself from blackness in the manner that you want people to believe.
    Women like Cardi,Jenny,etc grew up on blocks and hung with people that you probably wouldnt even set foot on or around.You nor your colleagues are not in any kind of position in the black community to be decertifying anybody’s blackness,especially those who are actually doing for our hip hop culture.Cardi is very “good in the hood”.When is the last time you’ve been there?

    1. Charlie P says:

      Cardi decertified her own blackness as you watched in the video. Accept it. She isn’t black! White people do not view us all the same.

  17. E Gordon says:

    It’s ironic that as much as you try to advance the idea of a collective, there is little evidence of what that would look like or who its arbiters would be. Who gets to be in this collective? What are its parameters? Am I Black enough? Do you need receipts proving I’m not a deviant plotting appropriation terrorism? Because as long as we fail to articulate what we are fighing for, we just continue to fight what we’re against.

    That said, you writing is incisive, enlightening and unapologetic. I’m all in.

  18. EducatedAfroLatino says:

    You need to do more research on Afro-Latinos. As both an Afro-Latino and Afro-American, this article is quite disrespectful to the Afro-Latinx experience.

  19. Simone says:

    Your article is so on point. It is enlightening, factual and thought provoking. Your statement’s on truth’s about us AA and how we’re perceived in Hollywood that try to eliminate our contributions and presence. Thank you for keeping us aware.

  20. Shaniqua Deslandes says:

    awesome article so many afro latinos dont identify with black people but love the culture, a woman who is famous for her r&b said they want our music and our ways but dont want us, paul moony said this which is what your article said in more of an elegant and intelligent way “everyone wants to be a nigga but dont no one wants to be a nigga.”

  21. Russ smith says:

    I entered these comments on the reposted link, but felt I had something worthy of the author’s attention.

    Harsh criticism for sure. I think that these two artists represent the future of America, like it or not. This comment about ambiguous racial identity strikes of colorism….and I think unfairly. Both of their “island origins involved stopping points for the slave ships from africa….we as a people need to focus on where we all originated, not where our ancestors landed (paraphrasing John Henrick Clarke). Whether the music performances are authentic soul is up to the consumer. I don’t listen to either with any expectations that they will cross into musical genius. They are pop musicians, and the center weight of their audience…and purchasers of their music…Is young, loves pop, probably ignorant of authentic soul, and probably white. As the racial blending continues…physical blending, cultural blending, artistic blending will continue. This is just the beginning.

    New after reading other comments: we seem to be in a new era of identifying or supporting degrees of blackness that is unprecedented. Sure it’s an easy call to question a person with almost 0% recent racial contact as one who is not black (like Rachel Dolezal). It’s less a call for those who share mixed parentage…Halle Berry, Obama. Most self identify as black…mostly because they look black. People from the carribbean islands try to deny their African ancestry when clearly they have the appearances indicating non-European blending. I think we can embrace them as black … if that is important…regardless of their self identity or ambiguousness.

    I grew up in Detroit, and love Motown era music. But some say that wasn’t soulful enough. So pop music never really satisfies the deep roots of the African experience in America. But these artists are not creating museum pieces… they’re trying to turn a buck.

  22. Hey CC,did you see this video clip? It’s from Love and Hip Hop. Listen to the exchange between Amara La Negra and this guy. It proves the racism in Latin countries. It’s undeniable they have a problem with blackness. But I’m proud that Amara stood up for herself and put this clown in his place. This correlates exactly with this post. Let me know what you think.

    1. Thanks for the video and the support!’

      I love Amara!

      Lol exactly, he doesn’t even see her as Spanish or whatever. Any black woman who has gone to the Dominican salon knows how they treat you differently based on your “look” and “hair type!” I wish you were in new York! I’d love to vent and trade stories lol

      1. I know right?? That video is so telling but not surprising. The anti-blackness is through the roof with some of these afro-latinos.. I have met some that were cool though. I went to school with some students from the Dominican Republic,Columbia and Belize. A few of them dated African Americans and were cool with us. I dated a girl in high school from Honduras. She was kind of like a Zoe Saldana type. But her family was real nice to me. But it kind of depends on the type you meet. And even some of the Afro-Latinas will date black men but still have a disdain for Black American women. I do not like that crap! I will put them in their place real quick! They don’t understand that they are not better than black Americans. The only reason I’m attracted to Afro Latinas in the first place is because they look black. Some of them can’t seem to grasp that concept.
        I’ve never been to NY. I’ve been wanting to go forever. I’ve been to Virginia,Maryland,Philly,North Carolina,Oklahoma,Florida,Atlanta and Texas. But I want to go to NY if possible. If I do I’ll give you a heads up. Yeah we would be trading stories

  23. bwillis12 says:

    “But while Cardi’s distance from blackness in identity but appropriation of a black platform to accrue wealth and fame is a problem–her function or fluidity, as manipulated by whites, is far more problematic”

    The latter part of your reply here is spot on and could’ve been a more appropriate focal point in your criticisms of Cardi B. Because, while she may have a problematic view of Blackness, she has indeed claimed her Blackness. The video that you continue to reference shows this problematic perception but doesn’t speak to all the other times, whether explicitly or implicitly, she has claimed to be Black. You can’t snatch someone’s Blackness away from them because they did a terrible job one time expressing said Blackness.

    There is something to be said about how she is perceived and accepted by society, and her response to both of these phenomenons. You pretty much say it here or allude to it, and I agree with these points. But we gotta take a more nuanced approach when it comes to Cardi’s identity because her expression of it is complex. We do a disservice to her when we simplify that expression and relegate her as other, instead of bringing her in and asking her to do better.

    1. Charlie P says:

      Expressing said blackness???

      When did she express blackness?

  24. MariSol says:

    I understand the point of view presented in this article better from reading the authors responses, that it’s not really about those artists but the entertainment industries exploitation of our differences within the diaspora, and who eventually becomes successful with the white audience. However, I think it’s off that In Living Color is the target. In Living Color was a representation of NY street culture, that is not and has never been exclusively Afro-American. Hip Hop was definitely created by Afro Latinos and Afro Americanos together… and the contributions of Filipinos to B-boy culture are immense. So really Cardi and Bruno fit right in that world.

    1. RedLam Ani says:

      Marisol, I didn’t see in any of the author’s responses where she released responsibility of appropriation and/or exploitation of Black culture from the artist. Cardi B. is not a victim here. The WHOLE issue with Cardi B. is that not only does she not identify as Black; she has made incredibly offensive remarks soaked in denial and colorism towards Black women. Her “otherness”, or delusion of otherness and distance from Blackness, is completely voluntary. No one is kicking her out of the club. She decided she is not a member. However, proceeds to profit from her watered down, pop version of music she learned from her proximity to club members. Look at other ambiguous Black women such as Zendaya, Amandla, and Paula Patton (sp) in the business who embrace their Blackness.

      As for this,

      “In Living Color was a representation of NY street culture, that is not and has never been exclusively Afro-American. Hip Hop was definitely created by Afro Latinos and Afro Americanos together…”

      Hip-hop was exclusively created by peoples of African descent. Full stop. That would include Latinos, Caribbeans, and all others where African music and ideologies were passed down to them from their ancestors. There is no need to differentiate these people by national origin. I have NO idea what “Filipino B Boy” culture is or how this branch, twig, or leaf of Hip Hop culture worship would be any different from the “immense” contributions to Hip Hop made by other nationalities, including other Asians. Some of these contributions are awesome immulations and celebrations of Hip Hop culture but they are not at the root nor building blocks of a culture that was well-framed before their “immense” contributions. That is foolish.

      1. Very articulate response!

      2. well said Nubian queen as a Afro Latino pioneer of hip hop culture from the 70s I totally agree….d.martinez original member of the legendary rock steady crew 1977″…shalom queen

    2. I do agree somewhat with your comment. Young cc is a lioness of Judah..i was present when hip hop was founded.i am afro Latino from Havana Cuba born and raised in the hip hop culture as a pioneering member of the legendary rock steady crew..we black and brown people the Rican’s did build Hip Hop culture together..we lived side by side with each other and shared the same struggles which were immense at the 1970s nyc south bx and you will see what I mean..i however do understand were cc the young lioness is coming from..if your willing to go to war with my people then as and Afrolatinos are together on this…i am Derrick”D Rock” Martinez original founding member of the legendary rock steady crew formed in the summer of hell in the burning fires of the South Bronx in 1977″..shalom to you again cc young lionesses of Judah and shalom to you as well my Nubian queen..

  25. elevateandtransform says:

    Good article. I’m curious as to how Cardi would be interpreted if she said she was Black. Would she still be understood as means to further the othering of Black people in America?

    1. Yes, of course! I actually think the scenario you presented would make her function worse. Like a Clarence Thomas who knows he’s black but only uses it when he feels individually attacked.

      1. elevateandtransform says:

        The scenario I was setting up was of an Afro-Latina who identifies as Black, not one who uses it for convenience. We know that light-skinned Black people in the US have enjoyed a privilege not granted to darker Blacks and this privilege is a function of white supremacy, to not only maintain racial oppression but to be utilized as a divide-and-conquer strategy amongst Black people.

        Acknowledging this, as well as how Afro-Latinx identity is often used similarly, I’m personally less likely to place blame on folks who have not verbally distanced themselves from Blackness (unlike Clarence Thomas) while calling out how white supremacy is showing up.

        IMO, Cardi claimed Latinx identity which she said included African. That’s not saying, “I’m not Black.” And if she did say she wasn’t Black we’d have to ask her to qualify that, as some folks I know from the Caribbean associate the word solely with Black Americans and are not denying African-ness with that statement.

        This piece was brilliant but I do have concern that it in some ways perpetuates the divide-and-conquer strategy of white supremacy.

      2. Thank you for your comment.

        I think it’s important to acknowledge that admitting African ancestry is different than saying you’re black. Jessica Alba’s kids have African ancestry because their father has a black parent-in the future their acknowledgement of a black grandparent is not the same as saying they are black.

        I have no contest to the observation of the divide and conquer technique, but displacing the technique as implemented by me a black Woman—who is a victim of said technique—and not the whites who maintain their placement at the top of the hierarchical structure for creating said division, is not only ignorant but cowardly.

        Black power.

  26. elevateandtransform says:

    I think it’s disingenuous to use Cardi’s garbled response about why she chooses to use the n-word as proof that she does not see herself as Black. It’s reaching, IMO.

    Making the suggestion that your argument could perpetuate the divide-and-conquer tactics of white supremacy is not mutually inclusive to suggesting that white people are not to blame for racial oppression or intra-racial division.

    We always have to be willing to de-colonize and question where and how we may be perpetuating the things that we loathe.


  27. Hasani Obatala says:

    The moderator is a best. I’ve BEEN saying this about Cardi B….. She’s not Black. SHE said she’s not Black.

  28. Hasani Obatala says:

    The moderator is a beast. I’ve BEEN saying this about Cardi B….. She’s not Black. SHE said she’s not Black.

  29. marcusrob2010 says:

    This was a good article (as a huge Bruno Mars supporter, I do have to agree with mostly everything stated). I’m very glad we have people who share this level of awareness when it comes to the industry’s (and the elites’) attempts to appropriate blackness onto the acts/artists that seem to stay in our orbit (again, through the industry’s top dollar promotion of them on our channels, radios, social media, etc.).

    With that said, in Bruno Mars’ case ( a guy who has vocally/consistently tried to be as genuine about his passion for our style as much as possible), I’m lost on what more he can do in order to steer free of the criticism. Probably nothing, but I simply CANNOT equate him to Justin Timberlake. I don’t really see any TRUE genuineness in Timberlake “brand” at all, nor legit SOUL. I DO see that with Bruno Mars. If he didn’t have a fat label contract, I feel like he’d legitimately still be singing/writing/performing the same type of music. I’ve never felt this would be the case at all with Justin.

  30. Dwayne says:

    Bitch, You sound STUPID AF! You are a disgrace to the culture. Ever heard of Afro-Latinos? Diaspora? Walk into a room, black or Latina, we are all the same. Stupid Bitch!

  31. jerseytjej says:

    Excellent article. I wish I had the ability to express myself so eloquently and succinctly! Mainstream America and world always applauds knock off’s of Black, because the real thing is less desirable in their eyes. Any attempt to retain ownership of our abilities is labeled as divisive or racist.

  32. Tet Ndeti says:

    Some questions I’d like to pose in light of this conversation. How would one characterize artists like AWB, Bobby Caldwell, Teena Marie, and more recently Amy Winehouse. Where does appropriation end and appreciation begin. Back in the day, the first two artist, were never known to be black until many of us saw them on Soul Train in my youth.

    Without the benefit of a 24/7 onslaught of a visual medium as well as social media back then, not everyone knew. I’m pre-mtv…and black radio played soul music from other artists like David Bowie, Michael McDonald and Gino Vannelli and so on. The revelations were always eye-opening, yet appreciated.

    I feel the term “cultural appropriation” really came to more popular use in the music video generation of the 80’s (and no I haven’t forgotten about the earlier misgivings of Elvis). People really began to put a face and a persona to the artist(s). Other than that, all than that mattered was musics ability to move you.

    I’m not always a “stay-in-your-lane” kinda person. To a degree, I think we are all influenced by a variety of things outside of our culture and filter them through our own experiences. It can be applied whether it’s in music, fine art, dance architecture, etc. In the end how does it move me.

    Ultimately I look at today’s media as a virtual accelerant for information lacking context. I’m not saying your statement lacks credibility, but sometimes one size does not fit all.

    Thank you for opening this discussion.

  33. Sick and Tired of Colorism says:

    I’m just wondering if black girls normally call darker skinned black girls roaches, because Cardi B has called many dark skinned girls Roaches… You have to understand the colorism in Latin America to have a perspective.. Some PRs talk about “whitening their race” and MANY of them discriminate against people from DR, because they, as opposed to Cardi B, are considered BLACK to Latinos, and dont let them start talking about Hatians, you will hear a lot of jokes then. The 1 drop rule has been dead for Latinos for DECADES if not CENTURIES… don’t let that girl fool you… Also we don’t need anymore whoremodels, let’s call her Latino, AA black women are the ish, I dont know any PR counterparts to Oprah, or Michelle Obama, or Ursula Burns, or Mellody Hobson…

  34. Luna Peace says:

    Reblogged this on Luna Peace and commented:
    What do you think?

    Personally I feel that is sad that we have to analyze everything this way but it is necessary. They want the hip hop sound and all the good things we create but they don’t want it from us. They want it from a lighter shade.

  35. JuJu says:

    It’s crazy to me how the points are going right over people’s heads in these comments. Like some Black commenters (or I’m assuming that they are Black) are advocating for people who haven’t explicitly identified as Black and those who are Black with “light skinned” privilege. And there is nothing wrong with pointing out those privileges to reference the main points the author is creating the space for (intelligent and informed) dialogue and critical thinking. Then there are clearly butt hurt Latinx person in the comments very defensive about being exposed for the white supremacy they comply with and benefit from. They big mad we see how they consciously and deliberately exploit their black adjacency.

    She said what she said.

    1. Thank you very much for this articulate and enlightened comment! ❤

    2. aem says:

      “Then there are clearly butt hurt Latinx person in the comments very defensive about being exposed for the white supremacy they comply with and benefit from. They big mad we see how they consciously and deliberately exploit their black adjacency.”


      And thanks to the author for creating this conversation!

  36. BB says:

    Why are you so angry? You should be able to express yourself and state your point of view without hurling insults at anyone. This is meant to be a debate, an exchange of opinion. Thanks.

    1. BB says:

      This was meant to be a reply to this comment, WordPress messed it up.

      January 7, 2018 at 11:14 pm
      Bitch, You sound STUPID AF! You are a disgrace to the culture. Ever heard of Afro-Latinos? Diaspora? Walk into a room, black or Latina, we are all the same. Stupid Bitch!”

  37. nineteenthharmony says:

    Interesting read. In addition to calling out cultural appropriation, we should also hold Black artists accountable for abandoning our sound. Can’t blame Bruno for flourishing with throwback R&B when our own artists abandoned it for Euro, electro or auto-tune. I imagine if Usher had Bruno’s current route, he’d still be at the top of his game.

  38. diamondlaine says:

    And whoever checkin for lit black women and girls on the mic I recommend Kash Doll, Kia K and Poca Dinero aka Pronto…and much hate as she gets I believe azalia banks to be someone who gets bit a lot while her music is overshadowed by controversy

  39. Faith says:

    This was a really well thought out article. I feel very conflicted because I am biracial (half black and half white) and both Bruno and Cardi look more “black” than I do — especially Cardi — in the way the choose to present themselves in interviews and through their music. It’s really confusing that Cardi B. (and many Dominicans) do not identify as black, especially considering that where I live, for example, most Dominican people I meet assume I am also from The DR because of how I look. I don’t want to speak for an experience that is not mine, but I do think it’s important to consider the history of anti-blackness (Trujillo) and things like The Parsley Massacre between The DR/Haiti.

    On a slightly different note, one of the main dancers featured in the video teaches frequently in NYC and LA. To my knowledge, she does not identify as black/identifies as Dominican. I took her class once and a woman was wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt, and she quite literally replied “Latinas too, my nigga.”

    Being a talented artist of color shouldn’t be an excuse to perpetuate anti-blackness. Still, I wonder what would happen if the media we place so much value in actually created space for more than just a “black” or “not black” identity.🤔

  40. billiambloom says:

    Interesting article to say the least…. has anyone ever wondered why carnival was so important???? My theory is that it was disguised to intentionally mixed down the African numbers in Brazil and surrounding areas. Any thoughts on this?

  41. Sista this was a good post. I agree with many of the sentiments you were talking about in this article. You pretty much points out what I have been talking about, but broke it down in more details and hits it right on the head.

    1. Thanks for the positive energy! Black power!

  42. Adrienne says:

    This is an incredibly interesting article and really highlights global systemic racism. Its structure promotes anyone who benefits from it to promote it, in insidious ways either actively or passively. People that benefit or even feel like they might benefit from it will double down on whatever “that thing” is that keeps their status, especially if they feel like it could be taken away. Humans do wild things to exist in a different spaces but they also do wild sh*t to stay put.

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