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Rosalía’s VMA win shows a deeper issue regarding culture

Rosalía’s VMA win shows a deeper issue regarding culture

Rosalía’s VMA win shows a deeper issue regarding culture
September 14
20:56 2019

Cultural identities can be confusing enough as it is. Then, the blurry lines between cultural influence and cultural appropriation adds another layer of confusion.

Spanish pop singer Rosalía recently won a VMA for Best Latin Video, but she is not actually Latinx. In her speech, she also neglected to mention that she is not in fact Latinx. This sparked an online debate about who is actually considered Latinx. On top of this, Rosalía has been also been accused of “exploiting” Latinx culture. 

It is tiring to feel like an outcast in the community you are apart of, and it is incredibly confusing to cheer on those coming into a space without properly acknowledging the thing they are benefiting from. Meanwhile, actual native people are being denied success in the same area other people are benefiting from without claiming it. 

Going online and seeing people argue about who is actually Latinx and who is not stirred an identity crisis within myself. 

When I was younger, I would typically shy away from said labels that try to categorize my roots. Now, these labels seem to matter more than ever before. 

There have been countless times in my life where people have approached me asking things such as “What are you?” or have assumed I am not fluent in Spanish simply because of the way I look. It is incredibly jarring to hear.

When I go home to Monterrey, Mexico, I feel normal and accepted. There is no lingering question of who I am. I am with family members that normally are separated from me by a border, but my skin tone and appearance always seem to raise questions here in Texas. I don’t fit into the mold of what a Latinx is supposed to look like or “be” like. It’s unsettling to feel like something less than what I am, or be seen and treated differently once someone finds out that I am Latinx. 

Once you’re in, it’s a welcoming community that you can feel a part of, like you’re one of them no matter what you look like. But I’ll never be 100% Latinx, so I was baffled seeing a girl from Spain consider herself 100% Latina while I am left sitting shrouded in doubt. 

Rosalía seems to be using the Latinx label to warrant success by only bring benefit to herself. She should not be considered a Latinx based solely on her music that seemingly only has shreds of Latin influence. Rosalía went on a Billboard series called “Growing Up Latino” even though she is not Latinx. She was invited on the show as an “honorary latina,” which is insulting/ enough as it is.

She then proceeds to say in this interview that she “feels Latina” after going to Latin American countries and releasing songs with different reggaeton artists. This feels like a slap in the face to me along with many others who share the same sentiment.

Being Latinx means much more than the country you’re from, or the country your family is from. But, that certainly does play a part.

Music is a welcoming form of endearment that shouldn’t exclude anyone. Culture shouldn’t exclude anyone, either. Rosalía should be congratulated on her VMA win, not torn down during this big moment in her career. However, the bigger issue of all this is her becoming heavily involved in a space created by Black Latinx individuals when she is white and non-Latinx herself.

This is true especially when there are actual Latinx individuals struggling to get recognition for their work because they are not white. 

The roots of her more successful songs are of Afro-Latinx origin, which targets the Latinx demographic, so all of this feels very purposeful. There’s no direct appreciation for the culture when you have a large platform and don’t explicitly outright say that you’re not Latinx. When you don’t thank those who brought the culture to life for you, it is very demeaning to the culture. 

While there may not be barriers to music or culture, it is important for a European, like Rosalía, to acknowledge that she isn’t actually Latinx. Being marketed as Latinx and marketing your urbano heavy songs to back up claims that you are a Latinx is simply not okay. 

Being Latinx isn’t just about the music, it runs much deeper than that. You cannot just pick and choose when to be Latinx.

Sometimes to me it feels like an exclusive group that I don’t know really know if I belong to. For Rosalía however, it comes across as her trying to put on a mask.

Accept your own culture, and appreciate another instead of using it to better market yourself and your music. 

Featured Illustration: Miranda Thomas

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Natalie Thomas

Natalie Thomas

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