Is Bruno Mars Even Black? The Cultural Appropriation Debate

This video addressing Bruno Mars cultural appropriation has sparked controversy.

Many Black fans have ran to his defense with fists in the air claiming, “the man is Black! Leave him be! Go after Iggy or Justin Timberlake!” But pointing our fingers at White people for cultural appropriation is picking the low-hanging fruit. We can hold Iggy, Timberlake, and Bruno Mars accountable. All at the same damn time. People are allowed to be concerned about more than one thing at a time.

People of color tend to get a pass for cultural appropriation merely because they aren’t White. And because the power dynamic isn’t as polarizing as a White person profiting off Black culture, it’s swept under the rug. So whether or not you agree with the claims that Bruno Mars is a culprit of cultural appropriation, it opens the important conversation about the relationship between non-Black people of color and Black people.

But first.

Bruno Mars has yet to confirm if he identifies as Black. Before we even accuse someone of stealing from Black culture, we must at least agree on whether or not someone is Black.

This isn’t the first time Bruno Mars’ identity was questioned. In 2017, he was accused of changing his name in order to hide his Puerto Rican heritage. He immediately cleared the air telling Latina:

 ““I never once said I changed my last name to hide the fact that I’m Puerto Rican. Why would I fucking say that? Who are you fooling? And why would anyone say that? That’s so insulting to me, to my family. That’s ridiculous. My last name is Hernandez. My father’s name is Pedrito Hernandez, and he’s a Puerto Rican pimp. There’s no denying that. “

In the same interview, Bruno Mars speaks about being mistaken for biracial(Black and White) while growing up in Hawaii. He’s identified with many things including Ashkenazi Jewish, Puerto Rican, Spanish and more. Everything but Black of course. Despite the numerous times he credits Black music as his inspiration, he never calls himself Black. He remains in the “safe zone” of racial ambiguity.

And I’ve already heard it.

Bruno Mars cultural appropriation? But How? Puerto Ricans are Black!

Nuance please.

If you’re Puerto Rican, chances are you MIGHT be Black. More African slaves were dropped off in the Caribbean than in the present-day United States. However. After the revolution, many Spaniards remained. Despite whatever ‘Latino’ label you want to give, Spaniards are White. Not even people of color. Spicy Whites perhaps. The ‘Mestizo’ race of people who were offspring of the White colonizers and indigenous Taino population in Puerto Rico also remained. Then of course you have the ‘Mulatto’ Black-Spaniards and tri-racial Creoles. Similar to Dominican Republic.

So to equate every person that’s Puerto Rican–especially when they specify that their mom is Spaniard– as Black is a grave generalization at best. An injustice to the Afro-Ricans that still experience anti-Blackness at the hands of non-Black people of color at worst.

Bruno Mars’ brown skin could just as easily come from his Filipino ancestry. Asians can also be of darker complexion. Cambodians. Filipinos. Indians. Vietnamese.

When a racially ambiguous person tells you they are all of these heritages except for Black, believe them.

Stop caping.

How I Broke Up with my Barber because of Race Politics

Breaking up with my barber because of politics seems silly to most.

But politics is everything. It’s how people treat us and view us according to sociopolitical structures. Especially when it comes to racism, you have a choice in who you offer business too in your neighborhood. In East Harlem, there are dozens of Black-owned barbers I could be a patronage of. So if I’m going to be a patron of a non-Black barber operating in a majority-Black neighborhood, it better be one that at least respects my existence.

Watch Almonte explain how he decided breaking up with his barber was the right thing to do when he featured in the Harlem-based “I aint talkin” Podcast.

3 Signs You’ve Won An Argument

You already won the argument.

But how would you know?

Many of us continue going down the rabbit hole after we’ve already won the argument. Maybe to feel good about ourselves. Maybe because we’re being manipulated into thinking our point hasn’t been made clear. Nonetheless, here’s 3 ways to know if someone is bluffing to cover up their loss:

  1. “It’s just my opinion.”
  2. “Ad Hominems”
  3. “You just want to be right.”

Artists Are Being Robbed by Venue Owners

Venue owners are laughing their way to the bank while artists continue to work for ‘exposure.’

Artists and venue owners fight over crumbs in New York City. Painters. Rappers. Singers. Stand up comedians. Poets. Musical theatre performers. The over saturation of desperate artists rushing to New York City opens a huge market of victims just waiting to exploited. Event organizers recruit artists to perform shows for free in the name of ‘getting exposure.’ And if they have a good turnout, they promise to book them again… for more free shows.

And that’s how the incessant cycle of doing free work usually is.

You think, well I love what I do anyway so I don’t mind doing it for free. Eventually it’ll pay the more popular I become. 

But, no. You don’t. Petty bourgeois capitalists like organizers hustling free labor will pay you as little as they can get away with. And as long as you are willing to work for free (since you don’t see doing something you love as work) they will exploit your ambitions. I’ve seen entire $50 ticketed, for-profit shows where rappers perform and the organizers take all the profit.

Here’s an example formula:

  • Venue owners charge organizers a rental fee up front.
  • Instead of hiring promoters to sell tickets, organizers recruit performers and even the DJ to perform for free and tell them to get their friends/family to support their show. The family/friends of the performers think their dollars are supporting the artists. But of course the organizers are paying their artists in ‘exposure.’ Oftentimes these events have no one important in the industry besides the friends and family of the artists
  • Organizers sometimes incentivize the performers to invite more people to the show by giving them a referral bonus.
    – Example: You get 4 dollars for every 20 dollar ticket you sell(a 20% commission). This word-of-mouth marketing pretty much does all the work for them. Organizers don’t even have to pour money into marketing besides a digital flyer performers can harass their friends with in their DMs. Now the performers are doing the job of a promoter.
  • Some events are even pay to perform. Not just cheap open mics trying to pool money for venue costs. But big price tags y0u’d see in beauty pageants–without the prizes– like charging artists $400 dollars just because some radio show execs will be watching you.
  • The show happens. Maybe some friends forgot to use the promo code and now the organizers don’t even have to pay for unaccounted referrals.

It makes sense that the artist gets a royalty  of the profits if they refer many people. However, this referral commission shouldn’t replace up-front payment for the time & skill it takes to perform. They’re performers. It’s their job to perform and entertain. Not to sell tickets.

Give me my damn money.

Scarlett Johannson’s popularity encourages casting agents to book her. However, they still have to pay for her on-screen performance up front. Not get her to do the job of desperately telling her fans to buy tickets while her pay is held ransom.

In the case of hip hop, organizers are responsible for recruiting performers they know are popular in the venue location and gauge what the turnout will be.

If an event organizer doesn’t even invest money and take risks ahead of time, what does that say about their faith in their event? They have no faith in their own value. They want the success of the event to rest solely on the backs of the performers. If the event flops, it’s okay because they didn’t pay the performers anyway. If plenty of people come, they walk away with most of the money. Or all of the money. Plenty of artists perform even without a commission bonus 100% pro bono. The work of the artist in this petty bourgeois capitalist scheme is reduced to a mere popularity contest.

And I’d be damned if I paid for an Uber to take all my DJ equipment to some guy’s crappy venue without an advanced payment for my labor.

What about the poor little ol’ venue owner that pays for everything?

Sure venue owners pay large costs in overhead, rent, inventory, etc. Boo hoo. That’s the risk of a business. Even McDonald’s pays workers for their time and labor(even if they steal the profits). McDonald’s sure doesn’t tell their workers to go beg their friends to buy a McDouble in order to be paid. Why are practices like these given a pass in the entertainment industry? Because it’s okay to exploit free labor as long as the worker likes their job? Artistry is work.Talent honed into skill. If you can’t afford to pay your workers and make a profit, you shouldn’t be in business. Period.

Artists. Get your sh*t together and stop putting up with this nonsense. Hustlers are gonna hustle. It’s up to the disenfranchised to liberate themselves of their chains. Don’t let yourself be a cash cow. Learn the game. Negotiate your rates with assertion. Collaborate with other honest artists. Make your own show. Whatever you do… please don’t think you have to ‘pay your dues’ by making these venue owners richer.

What to Do When You Have a Gay Son

The same thing you would do if you had a straight son.

Having a gay son is always made a spectacle

As if preparing for your child’s potential queerness is on par with being diagnosed with some terminal illness.

It’s not a tragedy to have a gay son. Not an inconvenience. Not some hypothetical hard premise to make small talk about at a dinner table. People are gay. People are straight. And all sorts of in-betweens.

What would I do if I had a gay son? The same thing I would do if I had a straight son.

But that’s not an interesting enough answer for you is it? Watch the satirical comedy sketch on what to do.

And enjoy the reaction people give you when you use this answer to such a silly question.


What’s the Big Deal about Almonte’s Nails?

Almonte joins Black Girl Politics to talk about Masculinity.
Of course, Almonte’s nails are a crucial point.

That’s the most concerning thing about masculinity, right?

It comes up at around 34:14

Even in the most casual, day to day choices like Almonte’s nails or tucking your shirt in, your masculinity is constantly challenged.

Almonte talks about being “otherized” even as a cis straight male by his cishet peers growing up in elementary school for wearing a messenger bag.

Do children even have a sexuality before they’re even thinking about sex? From birth we are bombarded with ideas of sex conflating with other dynamic ratios like masculinity:femininity , manhood:womanhood ,  etc. These challenges to your identity come from people all over the political spectrum.

Right wingers ask, “Are you gay? Why would you paint your nails if you aren’t?”

Leftists will ask, “Are you androgynous or agender? It’s great to see you reject the idea of gender.”

We constantly allow ourselves to be defined by these labels as if we weren’t the ones to create them in the first place. Even things as rigid as labels are fluidly defined according to how society changes. Otherwise, being called a bundle of sticks wouldn’t have been considered a slur if I had been in elementary school in 400 BCE.

So why does Almonte paint his nails?

Because he wants to. Nothing more nothing less.





PS: Real Men Suck Dick.

Gary V Hiring Slaves– Ahem — Interns. He’s Hiring Interns.

Are you looking forward to Gary V hiring you? Your pay is $15.


Look. I love Gary Vee. He’s the best motivational speaker leading this generation of entrepreneurs. But what could possibly justify paying someone McDonald’s money for video work?  He’s looking for dedicated young folks with the skills to create videos but, you know… young and ‘inexperienced’ enough to pay crumbs. The saddest part is that people would be STOKED to work with him. And that’s the exact issue with Gary V hiring young interns that would do anything to breathe the same air as him.

The problem is much bigger than Gary V honestly. Brands do this all the time. They gain a large audience and use their notoriety to exploit fans for cheap labor.

Keep it a stack. You would love work with big names like Jay Z, Beyonce, and Lady Gaga just for bragging rights.
At least your resume looks good(even if your bank account doesn’t).

Young creatives are just looking to get their foot in the door and establish some credibility. Getting paid crumbs can be overlooked if it means being able to hone your skills with their favorite celeb. Especially since being young usually means having less financial responsibilities like a mortgage or paying off a house. We even see this exploited when the social dynamic ratio of celebrity:fan is not so polarized. Example, videographers have to lower their prices to compete with the young cats unknowingly devaluing the market by doing extremely cheap work. I’ve been there; working entire music videos for 30 hours of shooting + editing for $150 commissions.

Popular brands continue this ageist tradition of targeting younger, impressionable creatives with too much ambition for their own good. It’s cheap and it works in a practical sense.

Look. Capitalism has never claimed to have the moral high ground. It’s up to us to take a stand and not engage in things like this.

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