What J. Balvin’s ‘Perra’ clip reveals about anti-black and misogynist in Latin American communities

  • Colombian rapper J. Balvin apologized after the widespread reaction to his music video “Perra”.
  • The clip, which showed two black women on a leash, was called racist.

Colombian rapper J. Balvin recently apologized after a widespread backlash against his music video “Perra”, which was heavily criticized for its racist portrayal of black women.

The clip showed two black women on a leash, as well as black actors wearing prosthetics to make them look like dogs.

The video also features Tokischa, a Dominican rapper, in a cage as he sings about being a “b —- in heat”.

Critics of the video have exploded on social media, sparking the “racist J Balvin” trend on Twitter.

Even Colombian Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez spoke, citing the video as an example of one of two recent incidents that “violate women’s rights and their dignity” in an open letter.

In his apologies, Balvin said he removed the entire clip from YouTube on October 17 in response to the comments.

Despite the rapper’s apology and the video’s removal, Afro-Latinos say the video is emblematic of larger issues embedded in the culture.

Afro-Latinos say ‘Perra’ video is ‘painful reminder’ of rejection

Instead of treating the incident as an isolated or unique situation, Afro-Latinos are calling on white Latinos to lead broader conversations and take action to combat the anti-darkness and misogyny pervasive in Latin communities. American.

“We always think of Latinidad as this beautiful rainbow where we all live happily together and where there is no hate,” said Guesnerth Josue Perea, director of Afrolatin @ Forum, an organization that supports Latinos of African descent in the United States.

He told Insider, however, that “J. Balvin’s music video shows that there is still this continued lack of recognition among white Latinos that they enjoy white privilege.”

For Afro-Latinas in particular, the video was a painful reminder of the rejection and violence they endure even within their own community.

For me as an Afro-Latina it’s especially painful when it’s happening within what is supposed to be my own community. Angel Jones

“I was disgusted, but not surprised at the disrespect of black women in the video,” said Angel Jones, assistant professor of Afro-Latina education at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

“I always think of the quote from Malcolm X where he explained that black women are the most despised, neglected and unprotected people in this country and this continues to be demonstrated by the disrespect we receive.”

“For me, as an Afro-Latina, it’s especially painful when it’s happening within what is supposed to be my own community,” Jones added. “If I am not respected in the community at large, I should be able to come home to my community and feel the opposite and absolutely not.”

Some critics say it’s not a culture cancellation story

For some, the incident caused them to reassess whether they still identify as J. Balvin fans.

“I am very upset that he portrayed black women in a way that I find very appalling,” Anajia Owens, a musician, told Insider. “The portrayal he chose to go with is inexcusable, especially when all the information is at hand.”

“I can’t support him or support him,” said Owens, a black woman.

She added that she and her girlfriend, who is African-Dominican, feel the incident has created a “huge loss” for black and Latin American communities.

Afro-Colombian artists face injustice and racism in different ways that J. Balvin didn’t have to think of as a white Latino Guesnerth Josué Perea

However, she and others stress that this is not a culture cancellation story. For her, and for so many others, it is a story about responsibility and treating black women with the respect and dignity they deserve.

“It’s not all her own,” Katelina Eccleston, a reggaeton historian who recently interviewed Balvin for Paper Magazine, told Insider, adding that the video and its concept had been endorsed by several other people before its release. “It’s much bigger than a video.”

Reggeaton and the music industry reproduce anti-Blackness

Omar Vega / Getty Images

J Balvin performs onstage during the iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina at the Amway Center on October 16, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.

Eccleston said anti-Blackness is ubiquitous not only in reggaeton, but in the music industry in general.

“His mistake speaks of the industry’s larger problems,” Eccleston said. “As a black woman in space, there is a control that occurs to keep me in my place.”

Eccleston spoke of “altering black issues as non-Latino issues,” saying this process contributes to a cycle where black issues are viewed as “something foreign to Latinidad.”

She and Perea both noted that non-black Latinos rely on the idea of ​​“mestizaje,” a term used to describe mixed-race people, as a way of failing to recognize how they further marginalize black Latinos.

They say the industry fosters this dynamic.

Eccleston cited Jennifer Lopez as an example of the music industry “turning white Latinos brown.” Lopez was criticized last year for calling herself a “negrita” in a song even though it is not black.

There is a feeling that the music industry tends to view white Latinos as more authentically Latino than black Latino musicians, Perea said.

Perea compared Balvin’s mainstream success to that of ChocQuibTown, a Colombian black hip-hop group. Although the group has been nominated and awarded for several Latin Grammys, it arguably has not enjoyed a level of success similar to that of Balvin, who has collaborated with Beyoncé and Bad Bunny.

“Afro-Colombian artists face injustice and racism in different ways that J. Balvin didn’t have to think of as a white Latino,” said Perea.

Afro-Latinos call for responsibility and attention to dehumanization of black women

Balvin collaborator Tokischa and video director Raymi Paulus have since responded to criticism of the video.

Tokischa told Rolling Stone that she was sorry for the way the video was interpreted, while Paulus told the magazine that the video was meant to be a “satirical representation” of the “many contexts of the word ‘perra’.”

But many say they don’t want this moment to pass without more attention to the mistreatment of Afro-Latinos and the dehumanization of black women in music and beyond.

“We have to center black Latinos,” Perea said. “As we engage in these conversations about anti-black racism and white Latinity, we really need to discuss why this mestizaje identity is a problematic identity that alters black people.”

Jones agreed, referring to the numerous signs that read “Latinos for Black Lives” at the height of the racial justice protests of 2020 as further evidence that white Latinos may not recognize the way they erase black members from their communities.

“The anti-darkness isn’t going to go away if we don’t admit it exists and continue to ignore these issues,” Jones said.

“Black women matter and black women must be respected and protected,” she added. “We shouldn’t be used for sales and entertainment. We deserve better than that.”

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