Race Music Inequality

Dear Latinx artists, your silence is very loud right now

Social media and celebrities have played a huge role in the recent explosion of Black Lives Matter protests and anti-racist advocacy. Due to the influence that media has had in today’s society, many people respond to what prominent artists and celebrities are doing because of the reach of their platforms.

As someone who is bilingual, I am fortunate enough to be able to access celebrities, their content, and art in both English and Spanish. However, the current political climate has made me realize how problematic the Latinx community of artists can be when it comes to supporting the Black community.

Especially in these times, it is important to pay attention to what people with big platforms are saying, and silence is also very loud

The Latinx community already suffers from racism and colorism rooted in a deep history of oppression by our own people. Many older generations of Latinx and Hispanic folk have been taught that people with darker skin have less inherent worth, feeding into racist beliefs.

Historically, the entertainment industry has heavily relied on colorism and has perpetuated the belief that lighter skin is more beautiful. Even in telenovelas, lighter-skinned actors typically play the leads while darker-skinned actors played the villains.

This is the type of colorism that is maintained in the industry. 

The sad truth is that folks learn from what they are seeing on the media.

I see this in my own family members who are from the Dominican Republic and have darker skin. They have tried to lighten or bleach their skin to look more “beautiful” like the women they see on TV.

I see this in the way many Ecuadorians in my family tell me not to marry a Black man because God forbid my children are mixed and end up with darker skin and “nappier” hair than mine.

These are the kinds of mentalities that we have to challenge in our communities. 

There have even been many instances in which non-Black celebrities fail to acknowledge their privilege and the struggles of the Black community. Just recently a very prominent Latina rapper Karol G made a comment saying that “All Lives Matter,” and completely disregarded the point of the Black Lives Matter movement. In the past, even Latina actress Gina Rodriguez has made comments rooted in colorism and completely dismissing the Black community’s struggle. Antiblackness is alive and well in the Latinx community. 

Celebrities and artists must use their platforms to challenge these misconceptions about race and color.

This is not the time for Bad Bunny to completely go M.I.A. on Instagram just because, all of a sudden, he can’t continue to promote his music.

This is not the time for Jennifer Lopez to say that “All Lives Matter,” which is an argument that has been used as a counterargument to the Black Lives Matter movement. As young Latinxs like myself try to educate our communities, it is also important to artists who our family members look up to help us and help the cause.

The gag is…racism is bad for all of us.

Black, brown, or any other type of minorities are all affected by racism to some degree. It is time that Latinxs start to understand this and realize that we must fight for our Black brothers and sisters. In this time we want to educate Latinx and Hispanic folk who blatantly disregard their ancestry and participate in colorism.

As some of my favorite American and English-speaking artists have used their platforms to spread messages supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, I am highly disappointed in the lack of response from some Latinx artists and celebrities.  Now, I personally hate the narrative that you have to post all you do on social media.

It’s as if they’re thinking, “my donation to a local bail fund doesn’t count unless everyone sees it,” and I’m sure there are many celebrities who feel the same way. 

Even before the global pandemic and the recent brutal murders of innocent Black people, there were many celebrities who were donating to many important causes or participating in philanthropic work to some degree and not posting about it. I completely support doing that, but not in the current state of the world. 

Especially in today’s political climate, these false ideas about identity and worth of a human based on their skin color can be detrimental to some communities. The recent protests and lootings in my community of the Bronx have highlighted how some Latinx and Hispanic people are blatantly racist against Black folks, ignoring the intention behind the protests and feeding into the narrative that they are “criminals” or “thugs,” in some instances even supporting the actions of police because of their deeply rooted racism.

This is my call to Latinx artists and celebrities to use their platforms as a way to educate their communities about the danger of spreading racist and colorist mentalities in these times. This is a time in which we must unite to fight the white supremacy and all systems of injustices that are in place to help us fail. This is for our own future success and for the greater good of society. Please question your silence and acknowledge the privilege you have to be able to stay quiet.

As celebrities, their reach to millions of people from the Latinx and Hispanic communities is a privilege that should be used for good in these times.

I am disappointed that they have not gotten the message, but it’s not too late. Stand with us now as we fight for Black lives and fight for a more vibrant future in which the color of a person’s skin won’t be a death sentence.

This is not just a moment.

The Black Lives Matter movement won’t die down even if the protests do.

If Latinx artists don’t speak up, they will be adding to the polarization of marginalized communities of people and continue perpetuating racist and colorist beliefs. 

By Sharon Quituisaca

Sharon Quituisaca is a public service leader, change-maker, intersectional feminist, and social justice warrior with degrees in Sociology and Policy Studies. As a first-generation Latina from the Bronx, NY, she is committed to advocating for womxn, inner-city youth, and the environment, while inspiring younger generations through mentorship.