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Bruno Mars: Cultural Appropriation or Homage?

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We should point to this country’s ongoing colorism and bias, which were not created by him but from which he may benefit in terms of crossover acceptance

I really hesitated to post this but: All this talk about Bruno Mars and has me feeling some kinda way. Bruno is a person of color who was raised with this music. I also got riled about that recent radio interview with Amara LaNegra where the hosts couldn’t understand that she is Black just because she happens to be from DR and speaks Spanish. They were making her explain her claim to Blackness — really? The difference between race, culture, and nationality continues to confound people. Next folks will be saying that I’m not Black. And trust me, I am. (Sorry if you prefer “African American” but I use Black interchangeably.)

If you’re mad because Bruno is totally lifting the style, sound, and rhythm of from the ’80s in a way that is almost indistinguishable from that of the originators, and topping the charts with it, that is a completely different and valid argument. You can call what he does homage, or call it imitation, or you can say he is unfairly ripping off the past. Fine. But it’s not cultural appropriation. Instead, we should point to this country’s ongoing colorism and bias, which were not created by him but from which he may benefit in terms of crossover acceptance (hello, Beyoncé), and which, on the flip side, are fueling what seems to me like a tempest in a teapot.


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