Best Afro-Latino artist … without being Afro-Latino.
A new controversy surrounds the urban artist J Balvin, who this Sunday received the award for best Afro-Latin Artist by the American organization African Entertainment Awards (AEAUSA, in English).
The very interpreter of “Si te Dareves” reacted surprised after the announcement, because it was granted to him despite not being an Afro-Latino person.
Users of social networks accuse him of cultural appropriation, while pointing out the organization for not granting recognition to other artists who do belong to this community.
“I am not Afro-Latino, but thank you for giving me a place in the contribution of Afrobeat music and its movement,” the vocalist commented in a story on his Instagram account that was later deleted.
The organization Hasta ‘Bajo Project, dedicated to analyzing the cultural contribution of urban music, opined that the AEAUSA should have included in the category dozens of exponents with black and Caribbean roots who have never been highlighted by this aspect. Among these, the Puerto Rican Mike Towers and the Dominican Tockisha stood out.
Nina Váquez, a historian who is part of the Hasta ‘Bajo Project, commented that the Colombian won the award for using the music, dialect, rhythms and costumes of Caribbean black people, even when other musicians are more successful, better lyrics and they are also, precisely, Afro-Latin people.
“The organization in charge of these awards relies on the fact that this is one that is not based on race, however they called ita “Afro-Latino”. The name itself implies a racial presence in the category“said the Hasta ‘Bajo Project in a Twitter post.
“Balvin’s duty should have been to reject the award and explain why it did not correspond to him,” adds the group.
Another Twitter user, identified as Alicia Sánchez, affirmed that having awarded the award to the Colombian exponent demonstrates the prevalence of the myth of miscegenation in Latin culture.
Given the criticism, the president of the AEAUSA, Dominic Tamin, published a video on the entity’s Instagram account to justify what happened over the weekend.
According to the spokesperson, the recognition is awarded “not based on race”, but on “contribution to African culture.”
“You can be a black Latino person and be nominated. You can also be a white person and be nominated, just like we have white people who are African, that’s how we see it,” added the spokesperson for the non-profit organization founded in 2015.
It is not the first time that José Álvaro Osorio, J Balvin’s first name, has been involved in a controversy over the racial issue.
In October the video for his song “Perra” was removed from YouTube after being described as “sexist and racist.” The production was rejected by personalities such as the vice president of Colombia, Martha Lucía Ramírez, and the artist’s own mother, Alba Mery Balvin.
The audiovisual showed Afro-Latin women with chains around their necks, muzzles, and kneeling while being pulled by the musician. The piece made a comparison between the zeal of the canine female and the woman.
Balvin apologized for his video.
“I want to offer my apologies to all the people who were offended, especially women and the black community,” he said.
Later he was also criticized by the singer René Pérez, alias Resident, of the disappeared group Calle 13, after requesting a boycott of Latin artists to the Grammy Awards. According to Balvin, this award does not “value” the exponents of the urban genre, although a year earlier he himself had received 13 nominations and did not express objections.
“Your music is like a hot dog cart, which many people or almost everyone may like. But when those people want to eat well, they go to a restaurant and that restaurant is the one that earns Michelin stars. “Residente rebuked him at that time.
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The controversy over the award to J Balvin as the best Afro-Latin Artist of the Year – BBC News Mundo